Fon Language
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Fon Language
Fon
Fon gbè
Native to Benin, Nigeria, Togo
Ethnicity Fon nu
Native speakers
2.2 million (2000-2006)[1]
Latin
Official status
Official language in
 Benin
Language codes
fon
Variously:
fon - Fon
mxl - Maxi
guw - Gun
gbh - Defi
wem - Weme
cib - Ci
Glottolog east2711  [2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
Gbe languages

Fon (native name Fon gbè, pronounced [fbè]) is part of the Gbe language cluster and belongs to the Volta-Niger branch of the Niger-Congo languages. Fon is spoken mainly in Benin by approximately 1.7 million speakers, by the Fon people. Like the other Gbe languages, Fon is an analytic language with an SVO basic word order.

Dialects

Capo (1988) considers Maxi and Gun to be part of the Fon dialect cluster. However, he does not include Alada or Toli (T?li) as part of Gun, as classified by Ethnologue, but as Phla-Pherá languages.

Phonology

"Welcome" (Kwab?) in Fon at a pharmacy at Cotonou Airport in Cotonou, Benin

Fon has seven oral vowel phonemes and five nasal vowel phonemes.

Consonant phonemes of Fon[3]
Labial Coronal Palatal Velar Labial
-velar
"Nasal" m ~ b n ~ ?
Occlusive (p) t d t? d? k ? kp ?b
Fricative f v s z x ? x?
Approximant l ~ ? ? ~ j w

/p/ only occurs in linguistic mimesis and loanwords, though often it is replaced by /f/ in the latter, as in cfù 'shop'. Several of the voiced occlusives only occur before oral vowels, while the homorganic nasal stops only occur before nasal vowels, indicating that [b] [m] and [?] [n] are allophones. [?] is in free variation with [j?]; Fongbe therefore can be argued to have no phonemic nasal consonants, a pattern rather common in West Africa.[4]/w/ and /l/ are also nasalized before nasal vowels; /w/ may be assimilated to [?] before /i/.

The only consonant clusters in Fon have /l/ or /j/ as the second consonant; after (post)alveolars, /l/ is optionally realized as [?]: kl 'to wash', wlí 'to catch', jlò [dlò] ~ [dò] 'to want'.

Tone

Fon has two phonemic tones, HIGH and LOW. High is realized as rising (low-high) after a voiced consonant. Basic disyllabic words have all four possibilities: HIGH-HIGH, HIGH-LOW, LOW-HIGH, and LOW-LOW.

In longer phonological words, such as verb and noun phrases, a high tone tends to persist until the final syllable; if that syllable has a phonemic low tone, it becomes falling (high-low). Low tones disappear between high tones, but their effect remains as a downstep. Rising tones (low-high) simplify to HIGH after HIGH (without triggering downstep) and to LOW before HIGH.

/ x?èví-sà-t é x às wè /
[ x?èvísá?t ? é ?x | às wê ? ]
fish-sell-a?ent s/he PERF buy crab two
Hwevísat, é ko h? asón we.
"The fishmonger, she bought two crabs"

In Ouidah, a rising or falling tone is realized as a mid tone. For example, m? 'we, you', phonemically high-tone /b/ but phonetically rising because of the voiced consonant, is generally mid-tone [m] in Ouidah.

Orthography

Fon alphabet
Majuscule A B C D ? E ? F G GB I J K KP L M N NY O ? P R S T U V W X Y Z
Minuscule a b c d ? e ? f g gb i j k kp l m n ny o ? p r s t u v w x y z
Sound a b t? d ? e ? f ? ?b i d? k kp l m n ? o ? p ? s t u v w x j z

X is used for /x/ in some orthographies, h in others. In many texts ?e?, ?o? are used in nasal contexts: me [m], Fon [f]. Tone is generally not written except when necessary.

Sample text

From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

GBETA GB? ? BI T?N EE XÓ DÓ AC? E GB?T? ?Ó KPODO SISI E ?O NA ?Ó N'I L? KPO WU E WEXWLE
Ee nyi h?nnu ?okpo m? ?, m? ?okpo?okpo ka do susu t?n, b? ac? ?okpo ? w? m?bi ?o bo e ma sixu kan f?n kpon é ?i mesusi jij?, hw?jij?zinzan, kpodo fifa ni tiin nu w?k? ? bi e ?, ...

References

  1. ^ Fon at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Maxi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Gun at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Defi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Weme at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Ci at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Eastern Gbe". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ a b Claire Lefebvre; Anne-Marie Brousseau (2002). A Grammar of Fongbe. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 15-29. ISBN 3-11-017360-3. 
  4. ^ This is a matter of perspective; it could also be argued that [b] and [?] are denasalized allophones of /m/ and /n/ before oral vowels.

External links


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.


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