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Field Notes on Kono, a Southwestern Mande Lect of Forest Guinea1

Notes de terrain sur le kono, une variété du groupe mandé sud-ouest,
Guinée Forestière
Полевые заметки о коно, идиоме юго-западной группы манде, Лесная Гвинея
Maria Konoshenko

Résumés

Kono (knu) est un parler mandé-sud-ouest de la République de Guinée, à ne pas confondre avec le kono de la Sierra Leone (kno, groupe Kono-Vai). Il est membre de la macro-langue kpelle conjointement avec le guerzé (kpelle de la Guinée, gkp) et le kpelle du Libéria (xpe). Cet article est une brève description de Kono sur la base des notes de terrain de l'auteur recueillies dans la République de Guinée en 2009 et 2014. Je décris la phonologie segmentale et tonale de kono ainsi que sa morphologie de base et des constructions grammaticales. Des listes Swadesh de 100 mots sont aussi données pour le kono, le guerzé et le kpelle du Libéria. Comme je le démontre dans cette esquisse, le kono est lexicalement et grammaticalement assez différent pour être considéré comme une langue indépendante. Certains phénomènes phonologiques et grammaticaux en kono, par exemple, l’harmonie consonantique, l’élision de la première voyelle dans les structures CVLV et le doublement pronominal obligatoire des syntagmes nominaux définis, suggèrent que, contrairement à d'autres parlers kpelle, le kono a subi une forte influence des langues mandé-sud.

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1. Introduction

  • 1 This paper is written with financial support from the Russian Humanitarian Science Foundation, proj (...)

1The Kono (knu) lect described here belongs to Southwestern Mande group. It is one of minority lects of the Republic of Guinea, not to be confused with Kono of Sierra Leone (kno, Kono‑Vai group). Kono is spoken by ca. 90 000 people in Lola Prefecture located in the eastern part of Forest Guinea, bordering the Ivory Coast and Liberia.

2Kono is a member of the Kpelle macro-language also comprising Guinean Kpelle (gkp) and Liberian Kpelle (xpe). Since their taxonomic status is somewhat controversial, I use the terms “lect”/“variety” to refer to these three language forms. However, as I demonstrate in this sketch, Kono is lexically and grammatically distinct enough to be considered a separate language. To date, no descriptions of Kono are available.

3Though it is undoubtedly a Southwestern Mande lect, Kono has some phonological and syntactic properties shared with neighbouring Southern Mande languages, e.g., first vowel elision in CVLV structures and obligatory pronominal doubling of definite noun phrases.

4The data presented here were collected at several sessions with two speakers of Kono, Sèni Doré (born in 1965) and Bala Bamba (born in 1956) during my field trips to the Republic of Guinea in 2009 and 2014, where I primarily worked on Guinean Kpelle as my primary area of research. I am also very grateful to Souanan Doré and Jean Gbemou, both native speakers of Kono, as well as two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and corrections.

5Guinean Kpelle data mentioned in this paper are based on my own field materials; they pertain to the hɔ̰́ɔ̰́kwɛ̀lɛ̌ variety of Guinean Kpelle spoken in Nzérékoré, the capital of Forest Guinea, which I assume to be the “basic” Guinean Kpelle dialect. All information concerning Liberian Kpelle is taken from Welmers (1962), Leidenfrost and McKey (2005). Other sources on Guinean and Liberian Kpelle are mentioned in the references.

6The following are some general typological properties of Kono:

  • There are seven oral vowels and five nasal vowels.

  • There are labiovelar /kp/, /gb/, /ŋm/, labialized /kw/, /gw/, /hw/, /ŋw/ and implosive /ɓ/ consonants, among others.

  • Initial consonants make up a system of morphophonemic alternations with binary contrast for sonorants and three-way contrast for obstruents.

  • There is a binary H vs. L tone system with contextual mid tone, H tone spread, tone polarity, downstep and downdrift.

  • Basic word order is S Aux O V X.

  • There are three types of possessive constructions distinguishing between kinship terms, body parts names and free nouns.

  • There is inclusive vs. exclusive distinction in person markers.

  • TAM markers in the auxiliary slot inflect for person and number and generally co-occur with lexical subjects.

2. Segmental phonology

Table 1. Vowels

Oral

Nasal

Front

Central

Back rounded

Front

Central

Back rounded

i

u

ŋ

e

o

ɛ

ɔ

ɛ̰

ɔ̰

a

Comment: Word final /ŋ/ is treated as a vowel because it carries tone.

Table 2. Consonants

Labial

Coronal

Palatal

Velar

Labiovelar

Labialized

Glottal

Voiceless stops

p

t

k

kp

kw

Voiced stops

b

d

g

gb

gw

Implosives

ɓ

Voiceless fricatives

hw

h

Voiced fricatives

v

ɣ

Voiced affricates

dz / z

Oral sonorants

ɾ, l

y

w

Nasal sonorants

m

n

ɲ

ŋ

ŋm

ŋw

Comments: 1) [dz] and [z] are variants of the same phoneme.
2) /ŋm/, /nv/ and initial /ŋ/ segments only appear as a result of initial consonant alternation (2.4), they do not occur in lexical representations.

2.1. Alveolar flap /ɾ/

7Kono has alveolar flap /ɾ/ occurring intervocally, represented here as r for typographic simplicity. Intervocalic /ɾ/ and /l/ are contrastive after word-initial labials, velars, labiovelars and labialized consonants, but only /ɾ/ occurs after word-initial coronal and palatal consonants. This restriction suggests that there are elements of consonant harmony, or “homoresonance” in Kono, which is also attested in Southern Mande languages (Le Saout 1979; Bearth 1992), but not in other Kpelle lects. In Liberian Kpelle, etymological contrast between /ɾ/ and /l/ is preserved after all initial consonants, and in Guinean Kpelle these two phonemes merged into /l/. Consider the series of cognates in Table 3; cf. also Table 4 below.

Table 3. Intervocalic /ɾ/ and /l/.

Kono

Liberian Kpelle

Guinean Kpelle

Meaning

pɛ́rɛ́

pɛ́rɛ́

pɛ́lɛ́

‘house’

kéréŋ́

kéréŋ́

kéléŋ́

‘burn’

kɛ́lɛ̂

kɛ́lɛ̀

kɛ́lɛ̂

‘beat’

kplá

kpálá

kpálá

‘be dry’

yírê

ɣílà

yílê

‘dog’

lɛ́rɛ́

lɛ́lɛ́

lɛ́lɛ́

‘good’

2.2. Vowel elision in stems with intervocalic /l/

8In stems with intervocalic /l/ such as CVlV, CVlVŋ, CVlVV etc., the first vowel is often dropped in Kono. ClV and similar structures are not attested in other Kpelle varieties but they are typical for neighbouring Southern Mande languages, e.g., Dan‑Gwɛɛtaa (Vydrine & Kességbeu 2008) and Kla‑Dan (Makeeva 2012). Consider the series of cognates in Table 4.

Table 4. Vowel elision in CVlV and similar structures.

Kono

Liberian Kpelle

Guinean Kpelle

Meaning

klɔ́ŋ́

kɔ́lɔ́ŋ́

kɔ́lɔ́ŋ́

‘know’

kplě

kpēlē

kpèlě

‘drink’

ɓláá

ɓálá

ɓɛ́láá

‘sheep’

2.3. Vowel shortening

9CV1V1 stems with identical vowels, as well as stem initial CV1V1‑ structures in non‑monosyllabic stems are shortened in Kono; cf. Table 5.

Table 5. CV1V1 shortening.

Kono

Liberian Kpelle

Guinean Kpelle

Meaning

ká

káá

káá

‘see’

hě

sēē

hèě

‘sit’

hwèrɛ̌

fēērɛ̄

hvèèlɛ̌

‘two’

2.4. Initial consonant alternation

10As in other Kpelle lects, initial consonants make up a system of alternations in Kono.

(1)

p→m/b

t→n/d

kŋ/g

kw→ŋw/gw

kp→ŋm/gb

hw→nv/v

h→ɲ/dz

ɓm

ln

yɲ

wŋw

11The alternation appears as a result of the voicing and nasalization of non-nasal consonants (given to the left) in *NC sequences. Lexical obstruents, e.g., /p/, alternate with nasal and non-nasal voiced alternants, e.g., /m/ and /b/. Non-obstruents, e.g., implosive /ɓ/, alternate with nasals, e.g., /m/.

  • 2 In Liberian and Guinean Kpelle, these alternations also mark definiteness, but there is no such mar (...)

12This process has been morphologized for 1sg *ŋ́- and 3sg *ŋ̀- pronominal prefixes2 encoding verb and postposition complements, inalienable possessors and single arguments in stative-resultative construction (6.17). 1sg and 3sg pronouns are realized as initial consonant alternation with high in 1sg or low in 3sg tone modifying lexical tone; for further details concerning tone, cf. section 3.6.

  • 3 Alternants for obstruents are always the same for 1sg and 3sg prefixes in Guinean Kpelle and as suc (...)
  • 4 Other nasals – /ŋm/, /nv/ and word initial/ŋ/ – are never lexical; they only occur as a result of t (...)

13In stems with initial lexical obstruents, the nasal alternant appears in 1sg while voiced non‑nasal appears in 3sg, e.g., for lexical /h/ in hɔ́ŋɔ́ ‘nose’: é-hɔ́ŋɔ́ ‘your nose’, ɲ́ɔ́ŋɔ́ ‘my nose’, dzɔ̀ŋɔ̀ ‘his nose’; for lexical /k/ in kɔ́ɣɔ́ ‘leg’: é-kɔ́ɣɔ́ ‘your leg’, ŋ́ɔ́ɣɔ́ ‘my leg’, gɔ̀ɣɔ̀ ‘his leg’3. Though this requires further phonetic investigation, in stems with initial lexical non‑obstruents, /ɓ, l, y, w/, as well as those with initial lexical nasals /m, n, ɲ, ŋw/4, the initial nasal is pronounced slightly longer in both 1sg and 3sg forms, with high or low tone depending on the pronoun, e.g., é‑lèě ‘your mother’ with initial lexical /l/, but ńéè ‘my mother’ – ǹèě ‘his mother’; for lexical /ɲ/ in ɲíní ‘breast’: é-ɲíní ‘your breast’, ɲ́íní ‘my breast’, ɲ̀ìnǐ ‘her breast’.

14The alternation also occurs synchronically following a word final nasal /ŋ/. In this case, the /ŋ/ is deleted and the following word appears with a nasal initial consonant, e.g., ɲíŋ́ kɔ́ɔ̀ [ɲí ŋɔ́ɔ̀] ‘tooth’, lit. ‘teeth bone’.

3. Tone

15There is a binary H vs. L contrast with occasional contextual M in Kono. The two tonal elements H and L make up five basic fixed lexical patterns or melodies: /H/, /L(H)/, /LHL/, /HL/, /L/, as shown in (2) for CVCV structures (however, longer structures, e.g., CVCVCV, have no restrictions on tone combinations).

16(2) /H/ kɔ́ɣɔ́ ‘leg’

17/L(H)/ hùyǒ ‘meat’

18/HL/ yírê ‘dog’

19/LHL/ yɔ̀wâ ‘axe’

20/L/ ɲàlè ‘cat’

21I adopt the following conventions in this paper. Tonal melodies are given in slashes: the /H/ melody. Tonal elements comprising tonal melodies are written without brackets: H tone. Surface realizations are given in square brackets. Hyphens mark a syllable boundary in surface representations when needed, e.g., /HL/ is realized as [H-HL] on CVCV as in yírê ‘dog’.

22(H) represents an underlying floating H, which always follows a linked L in an /L(H)/ melody. It is marked with haček on final vowel in the orthography: pǎ ‘to kill’, hùyǒ ‘meat’, mɔ̀ŋ̌ ‘hear’. Phonetically, /L(H)/ is realized as low level tone; I mark it as [L°] in the surface transcription. For the sake of clarity, the conventions for /L(H)/ are represented in (3):

(3)

Underlying:

/pa/

Orthographic:

pǎ

Surface:

[pà˚]

(level L)

|

L

H

23(L) is a floating low tone that is specific for person markers encoding alienable possession – see 3.2 and 4.1. It is marked with a ` sign after the stem.

24The /HL/ pattern is realized as [H-HL] on CVCV stems and as [H-L] on CVV stems.

25The following tonal rules exist in Kono: downdrift (3.1), downstep (3.2), contour simplification (3.3), tonal polarity (3.4) and H spread (3.5). I discuss the propagation of prefixal high and low tones in 3.6.

3.1. Downdrift

26Downdrift is a general phonetic phenomenon whereby every next high tone is pronounced lower after a low tone and every next low tone is pronounced lower after a high tone, e.g., Hɛ́ní àà pá ɓɔ̀ [Hɛ́ní àà pā ɓɔ̏] ‘Hɛni has come here’.

3.2. Downstep

27Downstep occurs when high tone is pronounced lower after a low tone, which in turn, is deleted. This occurs at least in three types of phonetic environments in Kono.

28First, downstep takes place after a falling contour on word final syllable [-HL] in /HL/ and /LHL/ melodies; final L of the contour is then deleted; cf. contour simplification in 3.3. This is shown in (4).

29(4) -HL + /H/ → [-H] + ![H]: /yírê ká/ → [yíré !ká] ‘to see a dog’

30This type of downstep is also attested in Guinean Kpelle (cf. Konoshenko 2014).

31The second type of downstep is unique to Kono; it is attested on ClV(ŋ) stems with an elided vowel (see 2.2) and bearing lexical /H/ melody. In such stems, H tone is downstepped in alternated prefixal 3sg forms described in 2.4, e.g., for lexical klɔ́ŋ́ ‘know’ in (5-6):

32(5) [ŋá Hɛ́ní klɔ́ŋ́] ‘I know Hɛni’.

33(6) [ŋá !glɔ́ŋ́] ‘I know him/her’.

  • 5 Surprisingly, ClV(ŋ) stems behave differently as opposed to stems with no elision such as kéréŋ́ (...)

34There is no downstep in (5), where the verb appears in its lexical form. In (6), H tone of the verb with 3sg object prefix is downstepped. I assume that this form is underlyingly /*gɔ̀lɔ́ŋ́/, which is how it is actually realized in Guinean Kpelle. The downstep occurs after the first vowel is elided5.

35Finally, downstep occurs after alienable possessive markers. Except for the 3sg marker with only linked L given in (7), they all bear linked H and presumably, floating (L) triggering downstep on the following noun with /H/, as in (8); cf. also 5.1.

36(7) /ŋɔ̀ ɓláá/ → [ŋɔ̀ ɓláá] ‘his sheep’

37(8) /ŋ́` ɓláá/ → [ŋ́ !ɓláá] ‘my sheep’

3.3. Contour simplification

38Contour simplification is a process whereby any word final (i.e., linked to word final syllable) falling sequence HL becomes [H] before another tone.

39When word final -HL is followed by L, which may be /L/, /L(H)/ or /LHL/, its L is absorbed into the following L (9).

40(9) -HL + /L/ → [H] + [L]: /yírê kà/ → [yíré kà] ‘saw a dog’

  • 6 This process is not usually labelled “contour simplification”, but I mention it here because it is (...)

41When followed by H – /H/ or /HL/, final L of the contour is deleted and the following H is downstepped (cf. 3.2).6 Since contours are always simplified before H or L, they only occur utterance finally or in isolation.

3.4. Tonal polarity

42Tonal polarity is a property of resultative person markers (sections 4.3, 6.7). Their tone is always the opposite of the following tone, as shown in (10-11).

43(10) [àà pá] ‘he has come’

44(11) [áá hè˚] ‘he sat down’

45The tone of adverb nii ‘yet’, used in negative resultative construction (6.8) and of the future marker kɛɛ (6.12) is the opposite of the preceding tone:

(12)

[hó

nìì

pá-nî]

2sg.b.neg

yet

come-stat

46‘You have not come yet’.

(13)

[hò

níí

pá-nî]

3sg.b.neg

yet

come-stat

47‘(S)he has not come yet’.

48Thus, both progressive and regressive polarity is attested in Kono.

3.5. H spread

49Linked H tone of /H/ spreads on the following /L/ melody, which becomes [HL], as shown in (14). The domain of this rule is a syntactic constituent: verb phrase, noun phrase and postpositional phrase.

  • 7 Verbs in (14) and (15) get underlying /L/ in Affirmative Past construction – cf. 3.7, 6.3.

50(14) /H/ + /L/ → [H] + [HL]: /ɓláá kà/ → [ɓláá kâ] ‘saw a sheep’7

51However, there is no expected change after floating (H) in /L(H)/:

52(15) /L(H)/ + /L/ → [L] +[L]: /wòlǒ tò/ → [wòlò tò] ‘sang a song’

  • 8 What seems to happen here is L plateauing between two floating (H) tones, so the resulting tone is (...)

53H tone, either linked in /H/ or floating in /L(H)/, also affects the immediately following /L(H)/ melody, though only in the verb phrase. In this case, the tone of the verb becomes higher than flat low, but lower than high. I label it “contextual mid- tone”:8

54(16) /H/ + /L(H)/ → [H] + [M]: /ɓláá hèɣě/ → [ɓláá hēɣē] ‘to take a sheep’

55(17) /L(H)/ + /L(H)/ → [L] +[M]: /wòlǒ tǒ/ → [wòlò tō] ‘to sing a song’

3.6. Surface realization of 1sg and 3sg tone prefixes

  • 9 The term “prefixal” is etymologically rather than synchronically adequate because there are no segm (...)

561sg person prefix is marked by consonant alternation and prefixal9 high tone (cf. 2.4). Prefixal high tone is born by initial nasal alternant and also spreads on stem, partly replacing its tone. Prefixal H spreads vacuously on stems with initial H: kɔ́ɣɔ́ ‘leg’ – [ŋ́ɔ́ɣɔ́] ‘my leg’. All /L/ stems and nouns with lexical /L(H)/ switch to /HL/: ɲàmǎ ‘blood’ – [ɲ́ámâ] ‘my blood’. Verbs with lexical /L(H)/ receive contextual M. Interestingly, resultative person markers, which undergo tonal polarization (3.4), are realized with H in this case: for wàǎ ‘wash’ [áá ŋ́wāā] ‘he washed me’, similar to [áá ŋ̀wàà˚] ‘he washed him(self)’. Thus, resultative markers ignore prefixal tone and polarize against the stem tone, which functions similarly to phonological L.

573sg person prefix is marked by consonant alternation and prefixal low tone (cf. 2.4). For stems with initial lexical non-obstruents /ɓ, l, y, w/ and nasals, prefixal low tone is realized on initial nasal alternant in 3sg form. Stems with initial lexical obstruents have non-nasal alternants in 3sg form; cf. 2.4. Prefixal low tone spreads vacuously on stems with initial L, e.g., ɲàmǎ ‘blood’ – [ɲ̀àmà˚] ‘his/her blood’ and it changes lexical /H/ to /L(H)/: kɔ́ɣɔ́ ‘leg’ – [gɔ̀ɣɔ̀˚] ‘his/her leg’. However, ClV stems with /H/ patterns are downstepped in this case (cf. 3.2).

3.7. Morphologically assigned tones as input to surface rules

58Tonal rules apply on lexical tones as well as on morphologically assigned tones. For example, in (17) above, the verb tǒ ‘fall’ has lexical /L(H)/ melody. In (15) the verb is assigned a replacive /L/ tonal morpheme, completely overriding lexical tones in past construction (see section 6 on basic TAM constructions). Both lexical and – in specific constructions – grammatical melodies serve as input or underlying structure in the case of phonological operations discussed in this section. In the following, I mark underlying tones in language examples, except for forms with 1sg and 3sg prefixes and those few cases where I am unsure about underlying tones.

4. Person markers

59There are several morphosyntactic types of person markers in Kono: strong pronouns (4.1), person indexes (4.2), predicative (4.3), possessive (4.4), locative (4.5) and conjunctive (4.6) person markers. The general property of all these types is the difference between exclusive and inclusive forms, which is also characteristic of Guinean Kpelle but is not attested in Liberian Kpelle.

4.1. Strong pronouns

60Strong (free, emphatic) pronouns are the only type of person markers in Kono that can be regarded as pronouns sensu stricto. They are used in focus constructions, with copulas and as second conjuncts in noun phrase coordination (5.6).

Table 6. Strong pronouns.

1sg

2sg

3sg

1pl.excl

1pl.incl

2pl

3pl

ɲá

ɓíé

yà

nɔ̀wá

gɔ̀wá

káá

dɔ̀wá

4.2. Person indexes

61Person indexes encode verb and postposition complements, inalienable possessors and single arguments in stative-resultative construction (cf. 6.17); 1sg and 3sg markers are realized as initial consonant alternation with high and low tone, respectively (cf. 2.4, 3.6). They do not co‑occur with full noun phrases in the same syntactic position, except for possessive construction with kinship terms (5.1), or in cases when the noun phrase has a definite marker (5.4), or the noun phrase is encoded by person index with quantifier hɛ́nɛ́ ‘all’ (5.5), or when there are conjoint noun phrases (5.6).

Table 7. Person indexes.

Table 7. Person indexes.

4.3. Predicative person markers

62Predicative person markers, often called subject pronouns, are portmanteau forms encoding person‑number and TAM meanings. Historically, they appeared as a result of fusion between person markers with auxiliaries or predicative markers. Crucially, most such markers co-occur with subject noun phrases in the same clause; they function as local agreement markers if there is an overt subject noun phrase (18) and as anaphoric markers without an overt subject (19). Therefore, I label them predicative person markers rather than subject pronouns.

(18)

Gɔ̀pú

aa

pá.

Gɔpu

3sg.res

come

63‘Gopu has come’.

(19)

Aa

pá.

3sg.res

come

64‘(S)he has come’.

65In all TAM constructions where they appear, basic negative person markers do not co-occur with full lexical 3sg subjects containing no definiteness marker. In (20), a default negative marker is used that is underlyingly toneless; in (21), a basic negative person marker is used after a lexical subject with definiteness marker –kí. In (22), basic negative person marker is used anaphorically.

(20)

Hɛ́ní

ho

é-klɔ́ŋ́.

Hɛni

neg

2sg-know

66‘Hɛni doesn’t know you’.

(21)

Lóhòrò-kí

hò

Hɛ́ní

klɔ́ŋ́.

child-def

3sg.neg

Hɛni

know

67‘The child doesn’t know Hɛni’.

(22)

Hò

é-klɔ́ŋ́.

3sg.neg

2sg-know

68‘(S)he doesn’t know you’.

69The difference between the uninflected default marker and 3sg marker is that the tone of the former is spread from the subject (cf. 23-24), while the latter always surfaces with low tone. Thus, the default negative marker is inherently toneless in Kono (cf. hó in Guinean Kpelle, fé in Liberian Kpelle).

(23)

Pépèè

[hò]

Hɛ́ní

klɔ́ŋ́.

Pepee

neg

Hɛni

know

70‘Pepee doesn’t know Hɛni’.

(24)

Yàràmɔ́

[hó]

Hɛ́ní

klɔ́ŋ́.

Yaramɔ

neg

Hɛni

know

71‘Yaramɔ doesn’t know Hɛni’.

72Basic negative person markers are used with overt subjects in 3pl (25), as well as with singular noun phrases bearing a definite marker as shown above (5.4), noun phrases encoded by person index with quantifier hɛ́nɛ́ ‘all’ (5.5) and conjoint noun phrases (5.6).

(25)

Ḿáráŋàà

dùhó

é-klɔ́ŋ́.

1sg\friend.pl

3pl.neg

2sg-know

73‘My friends do not know you’.

(26)

Dùhó

é-klɔ́ŋ́.

3pl.neg

2sg-know

74‘They do not know you’.

75Neutral person markers (6.15) have the same rules of co-occurrence with lexical subjects.

76Existential person markers, which are used in non-verbal predication, e.g., for localization, as well as in affirmative progressive verbal construction (6.9), do not co‑occur with full noun phrases in subject position (27-28), except for noun phrases with definite markers (5.4), noun phrases encoded by person index with quantifier hɛ́nɛ́ ‘all’ (5.5) and conjoint noun phrases (5.6).

(27)

Hɛ́ní

ká

nɔ́ɔ́

yírí-nî.

Hɛni

be

sauce

cook-stat

77‘Hɛni is cooking a sauce’.

(28)

Gá

nɔ́ɔ́

yírí-nî.

3sg.exi

sauce

cook-stat

78‘She is cooking a sauce’.

79It should be noted that the paradigm of existential markers is made up of person markers and two different predicators, ká and nà. Interestingly, ká occurs with low tone person markers and nà with high tone person markers (cf. table 8). However, only the nà marker is used in negative progressive construction (6.10).

80A full paradigm of predicative person markers in Kono is given in table 8.

Table 8. Predicative person markers.

Table 8. Predicative person markers.

81The main affirmative and negative TAM constructions with predicative person markers are described in section 6.

4.4. Possessive person markers

82Possessive person markers are used in alienable possessive construction. They function as deictic/anaphoric markers and co‑occur with full noun phrases in the possessor position (cf. 5.1).

Table 9. Possessive person markers.

1sg

2sg

3sg

1pl.excl

1pl.incl

2pl

3pl

ŋ́`

wɔ́`

ŋɔ̀, ŋ̀

nùá`

gùá`

káá`

dùá`

4.5. Locative person markers

83Locative person markers are fused with the locative postposition ma ‘on’. They function as deictic/anaphoric markers (30, 32) and co‑occur with lexical complements, with some restrictions (29, 31).

84Similarly to basic negative markers discussed in 4.3, locative person markers do not co‑occur with singular full noun complements, except for noun phrases with definite markers (5.4), noun phrases encoded by person index with quantifier hɛ́nɛ́ ‘all’ (5.5) and conjoint noun phrases (5.6). A “default” uninflected form of the postposition is used following singular complements (29). Locative markers are optionally used with plural nouns as complements (31).

(29)

Pépèè

wɔ́ɔ́

ká

Hɛ́ní

ma.

Pepee

love

be

Hɛni

on

85‘Hɛni loves Pepee’.

(30)

Pépèè

wɔ́ɔ́

ká

mà.

Pepee

love

be

3sg.on

86‘(S)he loves Pepee’.

(31)

Pépèè

wɔ́ɔ́

ká

lɛ́ɛ́plɛ̰̀à̰-ŋàà

mà / dùmá.

Pepee

love

be

child.pl-pl

on / 3pl.on

87‘Children love Pepee’.

(32)

Pépèè

wɔ́ɔ́

ká

dùmá.

Pepee

love

be

3pl.on

88‘They love Pepee’.

89As with basic negative predicative and neutral person markers, the difference between the 3sg locative marker and the uninflected “default” marker is that the former always has low tone as in (33), while the tone of the latter is spread from the complement (cf. 34‑35). Thus, ma is lexically toneless in Kono (cf. ɓà in Guinean Kpelle, mà in Liberian Kpelle).

(33)

Ɓaa

lɛ̰̀ǎ̰

lóhòrò‑kí

[mà].

2sg.res

forget

child-def

3sg.on

90‘You forgot the child’.

(34)

Ɓaa

lɛ̰̀ǎ̰

Pépèè

[mà].

2sg.res

forget

Pepee

on

91‘You forgot Pepee’.

(35)

Ɓaa

lɛ̰̀ǎ̰

Hɛ́ní

[má].

2sg.res

forget

Hɛni

on

92‘You forgot Hɛni’.

93A full paradigm of locative person markers is given in Table 10.

Table 10. Locative person markers.

1sg

2sg

3sg

1pl.excl

1pl.incl

2pl

3pl

má

ɓíê

mà

nùmá

gùmá

kámá

dùmá

4.6. Conjunctive person markers

94Conjunctive person markers are used for noun phrase conjunction (see 5.6).

Table 11. Conjunctive person markers.

1sg+3

1pl+3

1+2

2+3

3+3

nà

nwà

gwà

kà

dà

5. Noun phrase

95The order of nominal modifiers in the noun phrase is as follows:

96(36) Possessor NP – possessed NP – attributive modifier – numeral/plural marker – demonstrative – definiteness marker

5.1. Possessive constructions

97As in many other Mande languages, nouns are classified into two major groups in Kono: free and relational; the latter group comprises kinship terms and body part names. The difference between free and relational nouns is two‑fold. First, relational nouns are almost always used with a possessor. Second, relational and free nouns are used with different series of person markers encoding possessor, so‑called person indexes (4.2) and possessive markers (4.4) respectively.

98Inalienable possession markers used with relational nouns are person indexes that also encode verb and postposition complements, as well as single arguments in stative-resultative construction (6.17). 1sg and 3sg meanings are encoded by consonant alternation with high and low prefixal tones, respectively (cf. 2.4, 3.6).

99Within relational nouns, there is a syntactic distinction between kinship terms and body part names in possessive constructions: person markers co-occur with possessors of kinship terms, but not of body part names. This yields three types of possessive constructions in Kono, given below for the nouns ɓláá ‘sheep’, lèěmother’ and kɔ́ɣɔ́ ‘leg’.

Table 12. Possessive constructions.

Anaphoric possessor

Lexical possessor

Alienable (with free nouns)

ŋɔ̀ ɓláá ‘his/her sheep’

dùá` ɓláá ‘their sheep’

Hɛ́ní ŋɔ̀ ɓláá ‘Hɛni’s sheep’

lɛ́ɛ́plɛ̰̀à̰ dùá` ɓláá ‘children’s sheep’

Inalienable (with kinship terms)

ǹèě ‘his/her mother’

dǔlèě ‘their mother’

Hɛ́ní ǹèě ‘Hɛni’s mother’

lɛ́ɛ́plɛ̰̀à̰ dǔlèě ‘children’s mother’

Inalienable (with body part names)

gɔ̀ɣɔ̌ ‘his/her leg’

dǔkɔ́ɣɔ́ ‘their legs’

Hɛ́ní kɔ́ɣɔ́ ‘Hɛni’s leg’

lɛ́ɛ́plɛ̰̀à̰ kɔ́ɣɔ́ ‘children’s legs’

100In non‑anchoring possessive constructions, the head noun is marked with /L/ melody:

(37)

mààŋ̌

kɔ̀ɔ̀

rice

bone\l

101‘rice grain’

5.2. Plural marking

  • 10 I am not sure about the underlying tones of these markers, which may have surface forms [-nî] / [- (...)

102There are two plural markers in Kono: -ni for kinship terms and usually -ŋaa10 for other nouns (however, cf. (41) with -ni marking ŋɔ̀ɔ̌ ‘bird’).

103(38) é-léɣê-nì ‘your elder siblings’; yírê-ŋàà ‘dogs’; wòlǒ-ŋáà ‘songs’

104Some human nouns have irregular plural forms; these are given in Table 13.

Table 13. Irregular plural forms.

Singular form

Plural form

Meaning

nú / ní

núáà

‘person’

hìnènû

hìnàà

‘man’

nɛ̀ɛ̀nû

nɛ̀àà

‘woman’

lókòrò

lɛ́ɛ́plɛ̰̀à̰

‘child’

námû

námlà̰à̰

‘chief’

dzòɣómúŋ̀

dzówáà ~ dzòɣóɓláà

‘organizer of male initiation’

máráŋ́

máráà ~ máráŋàà

‘friend’

105Irregular plural forms may be reinforced by a regular plural marker: lɛ́ɛ́plɛ̰̀à̰‑ŋaa ‘children’.

5.3. Demonstratives

106yà ‘this’, yàmɛ́ŋ̀ ‘that’

5.4. Definiteness marker

107Definiteness is marked by the definite article -kí or sometimes -ɣí after vowels and -í after word final :

108(39) yáriver’yá-kíthe river’; ḿáráŋ́ ‘a friend of mine’ḿáráŋ-í ‘my friend’ (selected among friends of other people).

109NPs with a -kí marker are always followed by resumptive pronominals, regardless of their syntactic position, i.e., direct objects, possessors of body part names, postposition complements and single arguments in stative-resultative construction (6.17; cf. section 4 on the distribution of person markers in Kono). This is illustrated for direct object position in (40‑42):

(40)

Ɓò

ŋɔ̀ɔ̌-kí

gbɛ̀!

2sg.imp

bird-def

3sg\hunt

110‘Hunt the bird!’

(41)

Ɓò

ŋɔ̀ɔ̌-ni-kí

dǔ-kpɛ́!

2sg.imp

bird-pl-def

3pl-hunt

111‘Hunt the birds!’

(42)

Ɓò

ŋɔ̀ɔ̌

kpɛ́

/ * gbɛ̀!

2sg.imp

bird

hunt

3sg\hunt

112‘Hunt a bird!’

113In (40‑41), a definite noun phrase in direct object position is doubled by 3sg (40) and 3pl (41) person prefixes. This is not possible for indefinite noun phrases as shown in (42).

114Obligatory doubling of definite noun phrases is a very interesting syntactic property of Kono, which is not attested in other Kpelle varieties. However, it occurs in neighbouring Southern Mande languages, e.g., Dan-Gwɛɛtaa (Vydrine & Kességbeu 2008:70-71).

5.5. Quantifying expressions

115I have collected the following quantifying words, represented here with their surface tones: hɛ́nɛ́ ‘all’, tɔ̀nɔ̀ ‘one’, hwèrɛ̀ ‘two’, hàɓà ‘three’, nááŋ́ ‘four’, lɔ́ɔ́lú ‘five’, mɛ̀ŋdà ‘six’, mɛ̀hèrà ‘seven’, mɛ̀hàɓà ‘eight’, mɛ̀nááŋ́ ‘nine’, pòù ‘ten’.

116When there is quantifier hɛ́nɛ́ ‘all’, person indexes, but not lexical noun phrases, are doubled by resumptive pronominals, regardless of their syntactic position, e.g., direct objects (43-44):

(43)

Ŋ́

dǐ-hɛ́nɛ́

dǐ-kà

Lɔ̀ràà.

1sg.b

3pl-all

3pl-see\l

Lola

117‘I saw them all in Lola’.

(44)

Ŋ́

ḿáráà

hɛ́nɛ́

kà

Lɔ̀ràà.

1sg.b

1sg\friend.pl

all

see\l

Lola

118‘I saw all my friends in Lola’.

5.6. Noun phrase conjunction

119Noun phrase conjunction is encoded by conjunctive person markers (cf. section 4.6 for the full paradigm).

120Noun phrases are conjoined with an inclusory strategy (Haspelmath 2007:33) following a 1>2>3 person hierarchy. The conjoint participant higher in the hierarchy is encoded by a conjunctive person marker, while the participant lower in the hierarchy is expressed by a full noun phrase (45) or a strong pronoun (46) following the person marker.

(45)

Nà

Hɛ́ní

nǔ

pà.

1sg+3

Hɛni

1excl.b

come\l

121‘I and Hɛni came’.

(46)

Nà

yà

ɓó

pà.

1sg+3

3sg.aut

foc

come\l

122‘I and he came’.

123First person exclusive markers distinguish between two and more than two participants, cf. (45) and (47).

(47)

Nwà

Hɛ́ní

nǔ

pà.

1pl+3

Hɛni

1excl.b

come\l

124‘We and Hɛni came’, but *‘I and Hɛni came’.

125Other conjunctive person forms are ambiguous as to whether there are two or more participants:

(48)

Dà

Hɛ́ní

dǔ

pà.

3+3

Hɛni

3pl.b

come\l

126‘He and Hɛni came’ (2) or ‘They and Hɛni came’ (>2)

127Two full noun phrases are conjoined by dà (47).

(49)

Yàràmɔ́

dà

Hɛ́ní

dǔ

pà.

Yaramɔ

3+3

Hɛni

3pl.b

come\l

128‘Yaramɔ and Hɛni came’.

129All examples discussed here may also have a comitative interpretation, whereby the second participant is interpreted as accompanying the first one, e.g., ‘Yaramɔ and Hɛni came’ or ‘Yaramɔ came with Hɛni’ (in 49).

130Similarly to noun phrases with definite markers (5.4) and person indexes with the quantifier hɛ́nɛ́ ‘all’ (5.5), conjoint noun phrases are always doubled by person markers, regardless of their syntactic position, e.g., direct objects:

(50)

Ŋá

[dà

Hɛ́ní]

dǔ-kà.

1sg.b

3+3

Hɛni

3pl-see\l

131‘I saw him/them and Hɛni’.

6. Verb phrase

  • 11 As demonstrated in Konoshenko (2014), postpositional phrases are clause adjuncts in Guinean Kpelle (...)

132The basic word order is (S) Aux O V X. Verb phrase consists of two essential elements in Kono: Aux, which may be realized as a predicative person marker (4.3) or as an uninflected predicative marker, e.g., after a lexical subject in negative constructions (57), and V, the verb. When there is no lexical subject, Aux is always realized as a predicative person marker. In what follows, I only provide special comments for those constructions that pattern differently with and without a lexical subject, (cf. 4.3), but they are by default the same. In transitive constructions, there is also a direct object before the verb. A third argument in ditransitive construction is encoded by a postpositional phrase following the verb.11

133In various TAM constructions, the verb can have either lexical tone or low melody marked as /L/, which completely replaces lexical tone. In other constructions, the verb appears with lexical tone and a suffix. In this section, the basic Kono TAM constructions are described; each affirmative construction type is followed by its negative counterpart.

6.1. Affirmative stative

134Affirmative stative: basic affirmative person markers + verb with lexical tone

(51)

Ḿáráŋàà

dǔ

é-klɔ́ŋ́.

1sg\friend.pl

3pl.b

2sg-know

135‘My friends know you’.

6.2. Negative stative

136Negative stative: basic negative person markers + verb with lexical tone (default negative marker ho after lexical subject)

(52)

Mó

Yàràmɔ́

klɔ́ŋ́.

1sg.b.neg

Yaramɔ

know

137‘I don’t know Yaramɔ’.

6.3. Affirmative past

138Affirmative past: basic affirmative person markers + verb with /L/

(53)

Ḿáráŋàà

dǔ

é-klɔ̀ŋ̀.

1sg\friend.pl

3pl.b

2sg-know\l

139‘My friends used to know you’.

6.4. Negative past

140Negative past: basic negative person markers + verb with /L/ (default negative marker ho after lexical subject)

(54)

Mó

Yàràmɔ́

klɔ̀ŋ̀.

1sg.b.neg

Yaramɔ

know\l

141‘I didn’t know Yaramɔ’.

6.5. Affirmative habitual

1421) Basic affirmative person markers + verb with -à suffix.

(55)

Lóhòrò-kí

tǒ-à

yèrě

hɛ́nɛ́.

child-def

3sg.b

fall-hab

day

all

143‘The child falls all the time’.

1442) Basic affirmative person markers + kɛ̀â + verb with -nî suffix.

(56)

Héní

kɛ̀â

pá-nî

ɓɔ̀.

Hɛni

3sg

hab

come-stat

here

145‘Hɛni often comes here’.

6.6. Negative habitual

1461) Basic negative person markers + verb with -à suffix (default negative marker ho after lexical subject).

(57)

Hɛ́ní

ho

tǒ-à.

Hɛni

neg

fall-hab

147‘Hɛni doesn’t fall’.

1482) Basic negative person markers + kɛ̀â + verb with -nî suffix (default negative marker ho after lexical subject).

(58)

Hɛ́ní

ho

kɛ̀â

ɓá

mɛ̌-nî

yèrě

hɛ́nɛ́.

Hɛni

neg

hab

rice

eat-stat

day

all

149‘Hɛni doesn’t eat rice every day’.

150The semantic differences between the two pairs of affirmative and symmetric negative constructions require further clarification. Both constructions can be used with the adverbial modifier yèrě hɛ́nɛ́ ‘every day’.

151However, my consultant Bala Bamba indicated that in the first construction, the situation tends to be interpreted as generic, while the second construction refers to a sequence of regular concrete situations. This interpretation can be corroborated by the following examples:

(59)

Lɛ́ɛ́plɛ̰̀à̰

dùhó

tǒ-à.

child.pl

3pl.b.neg

fall-hab

152‘Children don’t fall’.

(60)

Lɛ́ɛ́plɛ̰̀à̰

dùhó

kɛ̀â

tǒ-nî.

child.pl

3pl.b.neg

hab

fall-stat

153‘Children don’t often fall’.

154Thus (59) means that the situation doesn’t take place at all, while (60) means that it occurs sometimes.

6.7. Affirmative resultative

155Affirmative resultative: resultative person markers + verb with lexical tone.

(61)

É-léɣê-ni

daa

pá,

dùká

kólî.

2sg-younger.sibling-pl

3pl.res

come

3pl.exi

yard.loc

156‘Your younger siblings have come, they are in the yard’.

6.8. Negative resultative

157Negative resultative: basic negative person markers + verb with-nî suffix (default negative marker ho after lexical subject).

(62)

Mó

nii

pá-nî.

1sg.b.neg

yet

come-stat

158‘I have not come yet’.

6.9. Affirmative progressive

159Affirmative progressive: existential person markers + verb with -nî suffix (default marker ká after lexical subject (cf. 27, 69).

(63)

Ńnà

wòlǒ

tò-nî.

1sg.exi

song

throw-stat

160I am singing a song’.

6.10. Negative progressive

161Negative progressive: basic negative person markers + nà + verb with -nî suffix (default negative marker ho after lexical subject).

(64)

Mó

nà

wòlǒ

tò-nî.

1sg.b.neg

be

song

throw-stat

162I am not singing a song’.

6.11. Affirmative future

163Affirmative future: future person markers + pá + verb with lexical tone.

(65)

Hɛ́ní

wɛ̀ɛ́

pá

klô

kɛ́

tínáá.

Hɛni

3sg.fut

come

work

do

tomorrow

164‘Hɛni will work tomorrow’.

165As in many other languages, the verb pá ‘come’ is grammaticalized into a future marker, though it is still also used as a lexical item.

6.12. Negative future

166Negative future: basic negative person markers + kɛɛ + pá + verb with lexical tone (default negative marker ho after lexical subject).

(66)

Mó

kɛɛ

pá

wááɣɔ̀ɔ̀

tɛ̀ɣɛ̌

é-pɔ́.

1sg.b.neg

fut

come

money

give

2sg-to

167‘I will not give you money’.

6.13. Imperative

168Imperative: imperative person markers + verb with lexical tone.

(67)

Kà

pá!

2pl.imp

come

169‘You (pl.) come!’

170Note that there may be no person marker in 2sg: (Ɓò) pá! ‘Come!’

6.14. Prohibitive

171Prohibitive: prohibitive person markers + verb with /L/.

(68)

Hàà

pà.

3sg.proh

come\l

172‘Let him not come’.

6.15. Neutral

173Neutral: neutral person markers + verb with /L/ (default marker kɛ́ after lexical subject).

(69)

Hɛ́ní

ká

hìě-nî,

Yàràmɔ́

wòlǒ

tò.

Hɛni

be

walk-stat

Yaramɔ

neut

song

throw\l

174‘Hɛni is walking, and Yaramɔ is singing a song’.

175When there is a full noun phrase in the subject position, a predicative marker appears in its default, lexically toneless form. Its surface tone is spread from the subject. When there is no lexical subject, the 3sg anaphoric marker kɛ̀ with low tone is used (cf. basic negative person markers (4.3) with similar distribution).

  • 12 This construction is labelled “neutral” in Kono by analogy with an identical const­ruction in Guine (...)

176This construction is used in non-initial predication to encode simultaneous actions for processes and subsequent situations for single events12.

6.16. Conditional

177Conditional: conditional person markers + verb with /L/.

(70)

Níê-ni

dàà

pà,

ŋɛ́ɛ́

ɓláá

tɛ̀ɣɛ̀

dǔ-pɔ́.

elder.sibling-pl

3pl.cond

come\l

1sg.fut

sheep

give\l

3pl-to

178‘If my elder siblings come, I will give them a sheep’.

179Unfortunately, I have not checked negative conditional construction.

6.17. Stative-resultative

180Stative-resultative: person index + verb with vocalic suffix + ɓó.

181This construction has non‑nominative argument alignment and is characteristic of South‑Western Mande languages. There is no predicative marker after the lexical subject and the anaphoric subject is encoded by person indexes, which are otherwise used in various non‑subject positions including direct objects (4.2).

182The verb appears with a vocalic suffix and a predicative particle ɓó. The form of vocalic suffix depends on the final vowel of the verb; however, my data are not sufficient for providing a complete description here. I have only checked qualitative verbs that receive a stative interpretation in this construction. In other Kpelle varieties, dynamic verbs are also used in this construction with a resultative interpretation. For this reason, I tentatively also labelled it “stative-resultative” in Kono.

(71)

Hɛ́ní

lɛ́rɛ́-ɛ́

ɓó.

Hɛni

be.beautiful-stat

pred

183‘Hɛni is beautiful’.

184Note that verbs with a vocalic suffix can also be used attributively:

(72)

nɛ̀ɛ̀nû

lɛ́rɛ́-ɛ

woman

be.beautiful-stat

185beautiful woman’

186Stative‑resultative construction has two negative counterparts in Kono, both with nominative alignment. The first is negative resultative (cf. 6.8 and (73) below).

(73)

Hɛ́ní

ho

lɛ̀rɛ̀-nì.

Hɛni

neg

be.beautiful-stat

187‘Hɛni is not beautiful’.

188The second negative construction is formed with nà copula and preposition. The verb takes a person index co‑referent with the subject and the vocalic suffix:

(74)

Hɛ́ní

ho

nà

ǹɛ́rɛ́-ɛ́.

Hɛni

neg

be

prep

3sg\be.beautiful-stat

189‘Hɛni is not beautiful’.

(75)

Ńíê-ni

dùhó

nà

dǔ-lɛ́rɛ́-ɛ́.

elder.sibling-pl

3pl.neg

be

prep

3pl-be.beautiful-stat

190‘My elder siblings are not beautiful’.

191I encountered some tonal alternations on the verb in both negative constructions and therefore, they require further investigation.

192Basic TAM constructions in Kono are summarized in Table 14 below.

Table 14. Basic TAM constructions.

Affirmative stative

Basic affirmative person markers + verb with lexical tone

Negative stative

Basic negative person markers + verb with lexical tone

Affirmative past

Basic affirmative person markers + verb with /L/

Negative past

Basic negative person markers + verb with /L/

Affirmative habitual

1) Basic affirmative person markers + verb with -à suffix

2) Basic affirmative person markers + kɛ̀â + verb with -nî suffix

Negative habitual

1) Basic negative person markers + verb with -à suffix

2) Basic negative person markers + kɛ̀â + verb with -nî suffix

Affirmative resultative

Resultative person markers + verb with lexical tone

Negative resultative

Basic negative person markers + verb with-nî suffix

Affirmative progressive

Existential person markers + verb with -nî suffix

Negative progressive

Basic negative person markers + nà + verb with -nî suffix

Affirmative future

Future person markers + pá + verb with lexical tone

Negative future

Basic negative person markers + kɛɛ + pá + verb with lexical tone

Imperative

Imperative person markers + verb with lexical tone

Prohibitive

Prohibitive person markers + verb with /L/

Neutral

Neutral person markers + verb with /L/

Conditional

Conditional person markers + verb with /L/

Affirmative stative‑resultative

Person index + verb with vocalic suffix + ɓó

Negative stative‑resultative

Basic negative person markers + nà copula + + person index + verb with vocalic suffix

6.18. Comparison of TAM systems in three Kpelle varieties

193As shown in 6.9, a special existential person series is used in progressive construction in Kono. This series has an extraordinarily mixed paradigm, incorporating person markers fused with two different predicators, nà and ká; cf. series III in Table 8.

194In Liberian Kpelle there are two progressive constructions. In the first, a special non-past series of person markers is used, which also occurs in the future and habitual construction (76). In the second one, a non-nominative subject is used with káá existential predicator, cognate to ká in Kono (77). In both constructions, the verb appears in the infinitive form with -ì suffix.

195Liberian Kpelle

(76)

Ŋā

pá-ì.

1sg.nonpst

come-inf

196I am coming’.

(77)

Ŋ́gáá

pá-ì.

1sg\be

come-inf

197‘I am coming’ (Leidenfrost & McKey 2005:67).

198In Guinean Kpelle there is only one affirmative progressive construction, identical to the second progressive construction in Liberian Kpelle (78). Note that in transitive predications, both anaphoric subject and object are encoded by non-nominative person indexes (79).

199Guinean Kpelle

(78)

Gáá

pá-ì.

1sg\be

come-inf

200‘I am coming’.

(79)

Gáá

dèɣě-ì.

1sg\be

3sg\cut-inf

201‘I am cutting it’.

202Future person markers, presumably fused with the verb kɛ́ ‘do’, form a separate series in Kono (6.11). No such series is attested in other Kpelle varieties. In both Liberian and Guinean Kpelle, future construction is derived from progressive construction by adding the infinitive form of the verb pá ‘come’.

203Liberian Kpelle

(80)

Ŋā

pá-ì

pá-ì.

1sg.nonpst

come-inf

come-inf

204‘I will come’.

(81)

Ŋgáá

pá-ì

dā

kɔ́rí-ì.

1sg\be

come-inf

3sg\some

look_for-inf

205‘I will look for some’ (Leidenfrost & McKey 2005:69).

206Guinean Kpelle

(82)

Gáá

pá-ì

Pépèè

tólú-ì.

1sg\be

come-inf

Pepee

call-inf

207‘I will call Pepe’.

208Another salient feature contrasting Kono with the other Kpelle varieties is the lack of affirmative and negative habitual (or non-past) person markers.

209To sum up, the Kono TAM system differs considerably from TAM systems in Liberian and Guinean Kpelle.

7. Greetings

210(83) Ɓàà ŋúŋ́ / ŋúɔ̂? – ‘Good morning!’ Lit. ‘You (sg.) have woken up?’, addressing a single person.

211(84) É yíí kpɛ̰̀ɛ̰̀? – ‘Good morning!’ Lit. ‘You (sg.) have slept well?’, addressing a single person.

212(85) Kàà ŋúŋ́ / ŋúɔ̂? – ‘Good morning!’ Lit. ‘You (pl.) have woken up?’, addressing more than one person.

213(86) Ká yíí kpɛ̰̀ɛ̰̀? – ‘Good morning!’ Lit. ‘You (pl.) have slept well?’, addressing more than one person.

214(87) É túgâ! – ‘Good afternoon!’, addressing a single person.

215(88) Ká túgâ – ‘Good afternoon!’, addressing more than one person.

216(89) É túɣó kpɛ̰̀ɛ̰̀? – ‘Good afternoon!’ Lit. ‘You (sg.) have spent the day well?’, addressing a single person.

217(90) Ká túɣó kpɛ̰̀ɛ̰̀? – ‘Good afternoon!’ Lit. ‘You (pl.) have spent the day well?’, addressing more than one person.

218(91) É mámá é hɛ̀ɣɛ̀! – ‘Thank you!’, addressing a single person.

219(92) Ká mámá ká hɛ̀ɣɛ̀! – ‘Thank you!’, addressing more than one person.

8. Swadesh lists for Kono, Guinean Kpelle and Liberian Kpelle

  • 13 For the sake of uniformity, I have modified the orthography in Liberian Kpelle data taken from Leid (...)

220In this section, 100‑word Swadesh lists for the three Kpelle varieties are provided13. When the lexemes are etymologically identical in the three idioms, they are given in plain type. Lexemes that are identical in Guinean Kpelle and Kono, but are distinct from those in Liberian Kpelle, are given in italic. Lexemes that are identical in Liberian Kpelle and Kono, as opposed to those in Guinean Kpelle, are given in bold. When a Kono lexeme is different from a lexeme common for Guinea and Liberian Kpelle, it is underlined. When the three varieties have three distinct forms, they are given in bold italic.

Table 15. Collection of 100-word Swadesh lists for the three Kpelle varieties

Table 15. Collection of 100-word Swadesh lists for the three Kpelle varieties

221When analysing the data, I largely followed recommendations in Kassian et al. (2010), also discussed in Vydrin (2013). The results of pairwise cognate comparisons of the Kpelle varieties are given in Table 16.

Table 16. Pairwise cognate comparisons.

Kono

Liberian Kpelle

Guinean Kpelle

90

94

Kono

89

222As shown in Table 16, Kono is the most divergent variety, sharing 90% of cognates with Guinean Kpelle and 89% with Liberian Kpelle. Such discrepancy parallels some specific grammatical properties attested in Kono, which are discussed in sections 5 and 6. Hence, though it is not the goal of this sketch to suggest an appropriate taxonomic label, Kono may be considered a separate language, at least on linguistic grounds.

Abbreviations

223aut – free pronoun

224b – basic person markers

225cond – conditional person marker

226def – definite

227excl – exclusive

228exi – existential person marker

229foc – focus

230fut – future marker

231h – high

232hab – habitual

233imp – imperative person marker

234l – low

235loc – locative form

236neg – negative marker

237neut – neutral person marker

238nonpst – non-past tense

239pl – plural

240pred – predicative particle

241proh – prohibitive person marker

242res – resultative person marker

243sg – singular

244stat – stative marker

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Bibliographie

                                                                                                                                                                

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Kassian Alexei, Starostin George, Dybo Anna & Chernov Vasily. 2010. The Swadesh wordlist. An attempt at semantic specification. Journal of Language Relationship 4, pp. 46-89.

Konoshenko Maria. 2008. Tonal systems in three dialects of the Kpelle language. Mandenkan 44, pp. 21-42.

Konoshenko Maria. 2010. Indirect object marking in Kpelle: Dative pronominals and postpositional agreement. In: Konstantin Pozdniakov, Valentin Vydrin, Alexander Zheltov (eds.). Personal pronouns in Niger-Congo languages: International workshop. St. Petersburg, September 13-15, 2010. Abstracts and papers: Working materials. St. Petersburg, pp. 52-56.

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Notes

1 This paper is written with financial support from the Russian Humanitarian Science Foundation, project 14-04-00488 “Language contact in Africa”.

2 In Liberian and Guinean Kpelle, these alternations also mark definiteness, but there is no such marker in Kono; cf. 5.4.

3 Alternants for obstruents are always the same for 1sg and 3sg prefixes in Guinean Kpelle and as such, these forms are only differentiated by tone, e.g., é-húŋɔ́ ‘your nose’, zúŋɔ́ ‘my nose’, zùŋɔ́ ‘his nose’; é-kɔ́ɣɔ́ ‘your leg’, gɔ́ɣɔ́ ‘my leg’, gɔ̀ɣɔ́ ‘his leg’. However, in Liberian Kpelle, a nasal appears with an alternated consonant in 1sg form yielding a three-way contrast. The difference may be represented as C1- for lexical consonant, ŃC2- for 1sg, C2- with low tone for alternated consonant, e.g., í-hṵ̄ā ‘your nose’, ńzṵ̄ā ‘my nose’, zṵ̀a ‘his nose’; í-kɔ́ɔ́ ‘your leg’, ŋ́gɔ́ɔ́ ‘my leg’, gɔ̀ɔ́ ‘his leg’.

4 Other nasals – /ŋm/, /nv/ and word initial/ŋ/ – are never lexical; they only occur as a result of the alternation.

5 Surprisingly, ClV(ŋ) stems behave differently as opposed to stems with no elision such as kéréŋ́ ‘burn’: prefixal low tone is spread on its entire stem yielding /L(H)/ melody: [náá gèrèŋ˚] ‘I have burnt it’, rather than the expected [*gèréŋ́]. I have no explanation for this discrepancy at present.

6 This process is not usually labelled “contour simplification”, but I mention it here because it is functionally similar to the previous one, i.e., L absorption

7 Verbs in (14) and (15) get underlying /L/ in Affirmative Past construction – cf. 3.7, 6.3.

8 What seems to happen here is L plateauing between two floating (H) tones, so the resulting tone is contextual M. The same tonal change yielding a contextual mid tone is attested in tɔ́ŋɔ́nààlɔ́ì dialect of Guinean Kpelle described in (Konoshenko 2008). In hɔ̰́ɔ̰́kwɛ̀lɛ̌ dialect, which I later chose as representative of Guinean Kpelle and described in (Konoshenko 2014), /L(H)/ changes to /H/ in such environment.

9 The term “prefixal” is etymologically rather than synchronically adequate because there are no segmentable pre-stem markers in 1sg and 3sg, but they can be reconstructed as 1sg *ŋ́- and 3sg *ŋ̀- prefixes. However, I use this term because H in 1sg and L in 3sg spread from the left word boundary and do not replace the stem tone completely, in contrast with the replacive /L/ pattern (cf. 3.7).

10 I am not sure about the underlying tones of these markers, which may have surface forms [-nî] / [-nì] and [-ŋáà] / [-ŋàà]. More data are needed to discover how tonal rules work in these cases. Surface tones are represented in (38).

11 As demonstrated in Konoshenko (2014), postpositional phrases are clause adjuncts in Guinean Kpelle and are therefore outside verb phrases. I assume this to also be the case in Kono, though I have not applied relevant tests to check whether this is true.

12 This construction is labelled “neutral” in Kono by analogy with an identical const­ruction in Guinean Kpelle. In Guinean Kpelle, the “neutral” construction is opposed to so-called “consecutive” construction. While the latter is only used to mark subsequent but not simultaneous events, the former can be used for both types of events; hence, it is labelled “neutral”.

13 For the sake of uniformity, I have modified the orthography in Liberian Kpelle data taken from Leidenfrost & McKey (2005).

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Table des illustrations

Titre Table 7. Person indexes.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/mandenkan/docannexe/image/1092/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 20k
Titre Table 8. Predicative person markers.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/mandenkan/docannexe/image/1092/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 72k
Titre Table 15. Collection of 100-word Swadesh lists for the three Kpelle varieties
URL http://journals.openedition.org/mandenkan/docannexe/image/1092/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 455k
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Référence électronique

Maria Konoshenko, « Field Notes on Kono, a Southwestern Mande Lect of Forest Guinea », Mandenkan [En ligne], 57 | 2017, mis en ligne le 14 décembre 2017, consulté le 15 octobre 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/mandenkan/1092 ; DOI : 10.4000/mandenkan.1092

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Auteur

Maria Konoshenko

Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow
mb_konoshenko@il-rggu.ru

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