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Studies on Arabic Dialectology and Sociolinguistics

Catherine Miller
Alexandrine Barontini
Marie-Aimée Germanos
et al.

Arabic Dialectology - Linguistic Descriptions

Africanisms in Turku

Andrei A. Avram


Turku is an extinct Arabic-lexifier pidgin, formerly spoken in Chad. The only available description is found in Muraz (1926) and it consists of a brief grammatical sketch, a vocabulary, and six dialogues. Tosco & Owens (1993) have analyzed in great detail the phonology and morphosyntax of Turku; their study also includes two short sections on the vocabulary and an appendix containing the non-Arabic words in Turku, in which etyma are suggested only for borrowings from European languages. The present paper is the first investigation of the African component of the vocabulary of Turku, which consists of lexical items, including ideophones, as well as semantic calques. For each of these categories, wherever possible, their source languages are identified. It is shown that the source languages include mostly Sara-Bagirmi languages and Sango, but also Fulfulde, Hausa or Kanuri. A distinction is made between lexical items taken directly from various African languages and those which may have entered Turku via Western Sudanic Arabic, given their occurrence in Chadian varieties (Decorse & Gaudefroy-Demombynes 1905, Deredinger 1912, Lethem 1920, Jullien de Pommerol 1999, Behnstedt & Woidich 2011, Heath 2013, McKone 2013). The analysis of semantic calques makes reference to potential areal features, beyond genetic affiliations. The findings are briefly discussed in relation to the external history of Turku, with a focus on the sociohistorical context of its formation and use.

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Texte intégral


1Turku is an extinct Arabic-lexifier pidgin, formerly spoken in Chad. It was documented in Muraz (1926), which includes a short grammatical sketch (Muraz 1926: 11-17), a vocabulary of approximately 1,300 entries (Muraz 1926: 113-187), and six dialogues amounting to 175 sentences, 1,160 words (Muraz 1926: 265-294).

2The phonology, morphology and syntax of Turku are analyzed in detail by Tosco & Owens (1993). The vocabulary is discussed in two short sections (Owens & Tosco 1993: 231 and 235); in addition, appendix I “Non-Arabic words in Turku” (Tosco & Owens 1993: 261-264) lists the non-Arabic words in Turku, with etyma suggested only for borrowings from European languages.

3This paper is the first investigation of the African component of the vocabulary of Turku, which consists of lexical items, including ideophones, as well as semantic calques.

1. Lexical items

4Two classes of African-derived lexical items have been identified: those which appear to be recorded in Turku exclusively, and those which also occur in varieties of Western Sudanic Arabic (WSA) such as Chadian Arabic (CA) and Nigerian Arabic (NA). In several cases the donor language cannot be determined.

5Consider first lexical items attested only in Turku.

  • 1 The <ng> is a transcription error and should read <gn>

6beling1 ‘chauve’ (Muraz 1926: 123): < Bagirmi mbìlàɲ ‘calvitie, chauve’ (Keegan & Djibrine 2016: 104).

7bong ‘étrier’ (Muraz 1926: 124): < Bagirmi mbòŋ ‘étrier’ (Keegan & Djibrine 2016: 105).

  • 2 The <b> is a misprint and should read <g>.

8bouroumba2 ‘chapeau’ (Muraz 1926: 125): < Kanuri gurumbá ‘hat (usu. made of straw)’ (Cyffer 1994: 86); Hausa gurumba ‘a large straw-hat’ (Robinson 1914: 110).

9gao ‘chasseur’ (Muraz 1926: 139): < Sar gáw ‘chasseur (de grands animaux)’ (Constant & Keegan 2016: 26).

  • 3 The <y> is a misprint, and should read <g>; cf. gluantmissil-gombo (Muraz 1926: 55).

10missil3 yombo ‘gluant’ (Muraz 1926: 158): < Sar gɔ̀mbɔ ‘esp. de plante qu’on utilise dans la sauce gluante’ (Constant & Keegan 2016: 49).

  • 4 The <nn> is a misprint and should read <mm>; cf. eunuquehaddimmbang(Muraz 1926: 49)

11hadinnbang4 ‘eunuque’ (Muraz 1926: 143): < Bagirmi ádim mbàŋ ‘serviteur du sultan ou d’un chef’ (Keegan & Djibrine 2016: 2).

12kaye ‘pagaie’ (Muraz 1926: 151): < Kaba káì (Fedry 1980: 126); Sango kay ‘pagaie’ (Gérard 1930: 69), kái ‘a paddle for a canoe’ (Taber 1965: 76), kai ‘pagaie’ (Bouquiaux & al. 1984: 140), kâî ‘pagaie’ and ‘rame’ respectively (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 686 and 805 respectively); Sara Madjinngaye and Sara M’Baye kaye ‘pagaie’ (Muraz 1926: 151). The word is ultimately of Bangala/Lingala origin: nkai (de Boeck 1904: 122), kai / nkai ‘paddle’ (Stapleton 1914: 89), nkáí ‘pagaie’ and ‘rame’ (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 686 and 805 respectively).

13kelkelbandji ‘perles dorées’ (Muraz 1926: 151): < Fulfulde kelkel-banja ‘a very brittle, cheap ‘golden’ bead’ (Mukoshi 2014: 302).

14koporo ‘pièce de 0 fr. 10’ (Muraz 1926: 152): < Fulfulde koporo ‘sou’ (Bah 2014: 135); Sango koporo ‘pièce(s) de monnaie’ (Bouquiaux & al. 1984: 638); Sara Madjinngaye and Sara M’Baye koporo (Muraz 1926: 152).

  • 5 The <a> is a transcription error, and should read <u>.

15m’barr ‘cul’ (Muraz 1926: 158): < Sar mbùŗ̄ 5‘fesse’ (Constant & Keegan 2016: 158).

16m’biki ‘muet’ (Muraz 1926: 158): < Sara-Bagirmi languages: Bagirmi mbíki ‘sourd’ (Keegan & Djibrine 2016: 104), Mango mbíkì, Nar mbíkì, both ‘sourd muet’ (Keegan 2014a: 67), Sar mbíkī ‘sourd’ (Constant & Keegan 2016: 76). On phonetic grounds, Sara-Bagirmi languages are a much more likely source than the Arabic etymon abkam ‘dumb’ suggested by Tosco & Owens (1993: 264).

17ngari ‘manioc’ (Muraz 1926: 162): < Mbay ngàrì (Keegan 2014b: 46). This is a variant of ngali ‘manioc’ (see below).

18ouélik ‘éclair’ (Muraz 1926: 165): < Kanuri wulak ‘flash of light (e.g. of lightning)’ (Cyffer 1994: 107).

19poto-poto ‘sol marécageux, argile, boue’ (Muraz 1926: 168): < Hausa potopoto ‘mud, slush’ (Robinson 1913: 281), Sango potopoto ‘boue’ (Gérard 1930: 106), pɔtɔpɔ̀tɔ ‘anything of a soft mushy consistency: mud, soft clay’ (Taber 1965: 158), potopoto ‘boue, vase’ (Bouquiaux & al. 1984: 290), potopôto ‘boue’ (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 131). According to Tosco & Owens (1993: 255), “its most likely path into Turku would have been from a coastal language via the Ubangui/Zaire river basins”. On this view, Bangala poto poto ‘mud’ (Stapleton 1914: 87) or Lingala pɔtɔpɔ̀tɔ ‘boue’ (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 131) was first borrowed by Sango and then reached Turku.

20tipoye ‘sorte de hamac porté par deux équipages de 4 hommes, se relayant’ (Muraz 1926: 270, fn. 1): < Sango tipói ‘a sort of carrying hammock […] in which important people used to be carried on the shoulders of four men’ (Taber 1965: 183). The word is ultimately of Bangala/Lingala origin: tipoye (de Boeck 1904: 104), tipoi ‘hammock’ (Stapleton 1914: 160), tipói ‘hamac’ (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 494).

21The following are African-derived lexical items which Turku shares with varieties of WSA. Most of these occur in CA, but some are also found in NA.

22anzaye ‘capitaine (poisson)’ (Muraz 1926: 118): < Sango nzai ‘(poisson) « capitaine »’ (Bouquiaux & al. 1984: 266), nzaï ‘poisson d’eau douce […] à la chair très appréciée’ (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 170). CA amzâye ‘nom d’un poisson’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 147) must have been borrowed from Sango and subsequently modeled on the many names of animal, insect and plant species with am-.

23badjio ‘couverture’ (Muraz 1926: 121): < Sar bájò ‘couverture’ (Constant & Keegan 2016: 4). The word is found in CA: bâjo ‘couverture’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 235).

24bangao ‘patate’ (Muraz 1926: 122): < Sara-Bagirmi languages: Bebote bāngàw, Bediondo bāngàw, Daba bāngàw, Gor bāngàw, Gulay bāngàw, Kaba bāngàw, Kaba Na bāngàw, Laka bāngàw, Mbay bāngàw, Ngam bángàw, Ngambay bāngàw, Sar bāngàw, all ‘patate douce’ (Keegan 2014b: 54). The word occurs in CA: bangâw ‘patate douce’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 244).

25boubou ‘singe’ (Muraz 1926: 124): < Sango bubu ‘petit singe, singe apprivoisé’ (Bouquiaux & al. 1984: 78). The word is found in CA: bûbu ‘singe rouge’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 280), buubu ‘singe’ (Heath 2013: 29).

26iongour, niougour ‘chiffon’ (Muraz 1926: 148): < Zaghawa (Beria) ñûngûr ‘Chiffon, du papier que l’on utilise pour cirer les chaussures ou enlever la poussière de quelque chose’ (Faris 2007: 41). Similar forms are recorded in CA: niongo ‘chiffon, haillon’ (Deredinger 1923: 158), nyangûrempr (Ouaddaï, Mimi) chiffon’ (Jullien de de Pommerol 1999: 1018).

27kalkal ‘semblable’ (Muraz 1926: 150): < Kanuri kálkál ‘correct’ (Cyffer 1990: 39). An identical form is attested in NA: kalkal ‘exactly’ (Lethem 1920: 426).

28kirdi ‘idolâtre’ (Muraz 1926: 149): < Kanuri ́rdi ‘pagan’ (Cyffer 1994: 130). An identical form occurs in CA: kirdi ‘païen, sauvage’ (Deredinger 1923: 146), kirdi ‘païen (-nne), animiste’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 149). A similar form is recorded in NA: kardi ‘pagan’ (Lethem 1920: 378). Note that Jullien de Pommerol (1999: 149) specifies that CA kirdi is an “empr (usité au Bornou)”, but does not indicate the source language. Seignobos & Tourneux (2002: 154) write that “nous pensons plutôt que « kirdi » vient de l’arabe [qird], qui signifie « singe »”. However, this would presuppose a drastic semantic change.

29laalé ‘bonjour’ (Muraz 1926: 154): < Kanuri lalê ‘greeting’ (Cyffer 1994: 83). The greeting is also used in CA, lālé ‘bonjour’ (Deredinger 1923: 151), lâlê ‘expression, formule de salutation’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 762), and NA, lâlê (Lethem 1920: 267).

30ngali ‘manioc’ (Muraz 1926: 162): < Sara-Bagirmi languages: Bebote ngàlì, Bediondo ngàlì, Gor ngàlì, Gu ngàlì, Kaba ngàlì, Mango ngàlì, Ngambay ngàlì, Sar ngàlì (Keegan 2014b: 46). A similar form is recorded in CA: angâli empr (sud du Tchad) manioc’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 162).

31n’goul ‘igname’ (Muraz 1926: 162): < Sara-Bagirmi languages: Bagirmi ngúlù ‘manioc’ (Keegan & Djibrine 2016: 117), Bebote ngúl, Daba ngúl̄, Gor ngúl, Gulay ngúl, Mbay ngúl̄, Mango ngúl, Nar ngúl, Ngam ngúl̄, Ngambay ngúl, Sar ngúl̄ (Keegan 2014b: 42), all ‘manioc’. Similar forms are recorded in CA: angulu / ngulu ‘manioc’ (Deredinger 1923: 77).

  • 6 Cf. Juba Arabic: nyerekú / nyerekúk (Tosco & Owens 1993: 249), nyirikuk (Behnstedt & Woidich 2011: (...)

32nyarkou ‘enfant, bébé, nourisson’ (Muraz 1926: 162): < Dinka nyer-kug/nyárkuk ‘child’ (Behnstedt & Woidich 2011: 37, Avram 2017) or Bari nyerkuk/nyereku /nyerku ‘child’ (Avram 2017), neither of which is spoken in Chad. Tosco & Owens (1993: 249) list nyarkou among the vocabulary items linking Turku, Juba Arabic and Nubi6 and serving as evidence for what the authors call “Common Sudanic pidgin/creole Arabic”. However, similar forms are also recorded in CA – nyirku ‘small child’ (Lethem 1920: 279), nierku/nirgu ‘bébé’ (Deredinger 1923: 158) – as well as Sudanese Arabic (SA) – nyirikuk ‘Kind’ (Behnstedt & Woidich 2011: 34). This fact points to a possible alternative route: the lexical item at issue might be a mot voyageur, first borrowed from Bari and/or Dinka by SA, then transmitted to CA, and finally entering Turku.

33silé ‘pièce de 1 franc’ (Muraz 1926: 175): < Sara-Bagirmi languages: Sara Madjinngaye silé, Sara M’baye silé (Muraz 1925: 175), Bagirmi sílē ‘pièce en argent’ (Keegan & Djidrine 2016: 138); Zaghawa sîle ‘pièces de monnaie’ (Faris 2007: 46). The word occurs in CA: silé ‘pièce de 1 franc’ (Deredinger 1923: 167), sile ‘pièce de monnaie, sou’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 1133). Jullien de Pommerol (1999: 1133) writes that CA silé is “empr haoussa”. However, the Hausa form is with [u]: sulḕ ‘shilling’ (Newman 2007: 189). While Hausa may be the ultimate source, the Turku and CA forms suggest that other African languages – most likely Sara – served as intermediaries.

34tombo ‘perche de pirogue’ (Muraz 1926: 182): < Sango tombo ‘perche’ (Gérard 1930: 109), tômbô ‘perche employée pour faire avancer la pirogue’ (Bouquiaux & al. 1984: 343). The word occurs in CA: tombo ‘perche’ (McKone 2013: 48).

35Finally, four ideophones have been identified.

  • 7 In some Hausa dialects /f/ is realized as [p] (Newman 2007: x).

36malann tap ‘tout à fait plein’ (Muraz 1926: 157): < Hausa cika taf 7 ‘filled completely, filled to the brim’ (Newman 2007: 193).

37abiett karr ‘très blanc’ (Muraz 1926: 16): etymology unknown. The ideophone is also attested in WSA: CA abiod karr ‘très blanc’ (Deredinger 1912: 358), abyad karr ‘blanc immaculé’ Jullien de Pommerol (1999: 707); NA abiaḍ kar ‘very white’ (Lethem 1920: 174), ábyaḍ kár ‘very white’ (Owens 1993: 215).

38azreg kroum ‘très bleu’ (Muraz 1926: 16): Fulfulde baleejum kurum ‘very black’ (Mukoshi 2014: 320). It also occurs in WSA: CA asraq krrum ‘très noir’ (Deredinger 1912: 358), azrag kurum ‘très noir, noir cirage’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 746); NA ázrag kúrum ‘very black’ (Owens 1993:203).

39hameur tiou ‘très rouge’ (Muraz 1926: 16): etymology unknown. It is also attested in WSA: CA amar tiū ‘très rouge’ (Deredinger 1912: 358), ahmar tcu ‘rouge vif, écarlate’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 1206); NA: áhamar čú ‘very red’ (Owens 1993: 203).

2. Calques

40In addition to lexical items, a number of expressions (set phrases) and compounds appear to be modeled on various African languages. Some of these may be traced to models offered by several source languages.

41The following (potential) calques are found, on currently available evidence, only in Turku.

  • 8 The <h> is a misprint and should read <y>, cf. dìyá ‘femme’.

42bagar mara ‘vache’ (Muraz 1926: 121), lit. ‘bovine woman’: cf. Sango wali ti bagra ‘vache’ (Gérard 1930: 87), wale (tí) bágara ‘cow’ (Taber 1965: 244), wâlï-bâgara ‘vache’ (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 976), lit. ‘woman (of) cow, woman cow’; Sara mang diha8 ‘vache’ (Muraz 1926: 121), lit. ‘bovine woman’.

43bahr goum ‘crue’ (Muraz 1926: 122), lit. ‘river rises’: cf. Ngambaye màn̄-kàw̄ ‘crue (du fleuve)’ (Chata & al. 2015: 78), lit. ‘river goes’.

44bett ourar ‘water-closet’ (Muraz 1926: 123), lit. ‘house excrements’: cf. Sango da (ti) puru (Bouquiaux & al. 1984: 84), dapurû ‘toilettes, WC’ (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 33), lit. ‘house (of) excrements’; Sara Madjinngaye koudiou yédé Muraz (1926: 123), lit. ‘house of excrements’.

45nougra ana hassal ‘ruche’ (Muraz 1926: 163), lit. ‘hole of honey’: cf. Ngambaye bòlè tə̀nji ‘trou à miel’ (Chata & al. 2015: 135), lit. ‘hole honey’.

46nougra hadjer ‘grotte’ (Muraz 1926: 162), lit. ‘hole mountain/stone’: cf. Kanuri kûl kaube ‘cave’ (Cyffer 1994: 28), lit. ‘cavity mountain-of’; Ngambaye: bɔ̀lɔ̀-mbàl̄ ‘grotte’ (Chata & al. 2015: 84), lit. ‘hole mountain’; Sango dûtênë ‘grotte’ (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 487), lit. ‘hole stone’.

47ouled bagar ‘veau’ (Muraz 1926: 165), lit. ‘child cow’: cf. Sango mɛ́rɛngɛ́ tí bágara ‘calf’ (Taber 1965: 235), môlenge tî bâgara ‘veau’ (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 981); Sara Madjingaye / Sara M’Baye gonn mang (Muraz 1926: 165), lit. ‘child bovine’.

48Listed below are calques found not only in Turku, but also in varieties of WSA.

49bett ter ‘nid’ (Muraz 1926: 123), lit. ‘house bird’: cf. Fulfulde suudu foondu ‘nest’ (Bautista & al. 1991: 30), lit. ‘house bird’; Kanuri njîm ngudobe ‘nest’ (Cyffer 1994: 124), lit. ‘room bird-of’; Sango da ti hu/da ti ndeke ‘nid’ (Gérard 1930: 66), da tî ndeke ‘nid’ (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 654), lit. ‘house of bird’; Sar kújɨ̄ yèlˉ ‘nid’ (Constant & Keegan 2016: 152), lit. ‘house bird’. There is a similar form in CA: bēt et ēr ‘nid’ (Deredinger 1923: 83).

  • 9 In NA duḫān also means ‘tobacco’ (Lethem 1920: 460)

50bourma toumbak ‘pipe’ (Muraz 1926: 125), lit. ‘pot tobacco’: cf. Kanuri kólo tawâbe ‘pipe’ (Cyffer 1994: 193); lit. ‘pot tobacco-of’; Laga: bày-sà ‘pipe’ (Keegan 2014b: 124), lit. ‘pot tobacco’; Ngambay bày-sà ‘pipe’ (Chata & al. 2015: 7), lit. ‘pot tobacco’. A similar form is recorded in NA: burma dukhân9 ‘pipe’ (Lethem 1920: 260).

51cachim bett ‘porte’ (Muraz 1926: 126), lit. ‘mouth house’: cf. Sango nio da/yanga da/yanga ti da ‘porte’ (Gérard 1930: 75), lit. ‘mouth house/mouth of house’, yángá tí da ‘door’ (Taber 1965: 250), yanga-da ‘porte’ (Bouquiaux & al. 1984: 80), lit yângâda ‘porte’ (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 755), lit. ‘mouth of house/mouth house’; Sara languages – Bebote tà-kə́y, Daba tà-kúj, Gor tà-kə́y, Gulay tà-kə́y, Kaba tà-kə́y, Mango tà-kə́y, Nar tə̀-kújɨ̄, Ngam tà-kújɨ́, Ngambay tà-kə́y, Sar tà-kújɨ̄ (Keegan 2016: 57-58), all lit. ‘mouth house’; Zaghawa bîye a ‘littéralement la porte (ou la bouche) de la maison)’ (Faris 2007: 13). Similar forms are attested in WSA: CA khachim bit ‘porte’ (Decorse & Gaudefroy-Demombynes 1905: 51), qacham el-bèt ‘porte’ (Deredinger 1923: 91), xacum bêt ‘porte’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 1275); NA khasham beit ‘door’ (Lethem 1920: 59).

52faroua henn ‘paupière’ (Muraz 1926: 135), lit. ‘skin eye’: cf. Fulfulde laral gite ‘eyelid’ (Mukoshi 2014: 333), lit. ‘skin eyes’; Ngambaye form ndāŕ-kùm ‘paupière’ (Constant & Keegan 2016: 133), lit. ‘skin eye’. Similar forms are found in CA: farwa ‘aïn ‘paupières’ (Decorse & Gaudefroy-Demombynes 1905: 51), djild el-héïn ‘paupière’ (Deredinger 1923: 88), farwit al ên ‘paupière’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 442).

53hide gohoui ‘avare’ (Muraz 1926: 145), lit. ‘hand hard’: cf. Kanuri músko cíbbua ‘stingy’ (Cyffer 1994: 178), lit. ‘hand strong’; Sar jī-ngàn̄g ‘être avare’ (Constant & Keegan 2016: 62), lit. ‘hand hard’; Zaghawa ba kônûy ‘avare’ (Faris 2007: 33), lit. ‘arm strong’. The same expression is attested in CA: idi göwi ‘avare’ (Deredinger 1923: 134).

54koutoulou nar ‘éteindre le feu’ (Muraz 1926: 153), lit. ‘kill fire’: cf. Bidiya daa-ta wa-ʔako ‘extinguish the fire’ (Owens 1996: 314), lit. ‘kill fire’; Hausa káshée wútáa ‘extinguish the fire’ (Owens 1996: 314), ‘kill fire’. Similar forms are recorded in WSA: CA qtel nar ‘éteindre le feu’ (Decorse & Gaudefroy-Demombynes 1905: 45), qatala nar ‘éteindre’ (Deredinger 1923: 57), katilîn al-nar ‘[fait d’] éteindre le feu’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 162); NA aktul an-naar ‘extinguish the fire’ (Owens 1996: 314).

55oussoutt filllell ‘minuit’ (Muraz 1926: 167), lit. ‘middle night’: cf. Fulfulde caka jemma ‘midnight’ (Mukoshi 2014: 80), lit. middle night’; Hausa tsăkan dăre ‘midnight’ (Robinson 1914: 149), lit. ‘middle night’; Sar, dàn ndɔ̀ɔ̄ ‘milieu de la nuit’ (Constant & Keegan 2016: 25). There is a similar form in CA: usut el lēl ‘minuit’ (Deredinger 1923: 79).

56rass bett ‘toît’ (Muraz 1926: 169), lit. ‘head house’: cf. Bidiya káay beena ‘roof’ (Owens 1996: 291), lit. ‘head-his house’; Hausa kâ-n gidá ‘roof’ (Owens 1996: 291), lit. ‘head-of house’; Kanuri kəlá fáto-be ‘roof’ (Owens 1996: 291), lit. ‘head house-of’; Sango li tí da ‘roof’ (Taber 1965: 108), lì tí dà ‘toit’ (Bouquiaux & al. 1984: 199), lida ‘toit’ (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 945), lit. ‘head of house/head house’; Sara languages: Ngambaye dɔ̀-kə́y ‘toit’ (Chata & al. 2015: 96), Sar dɔ̀-kújí ‘toit’ (Constant & Keegan 2016: 160), both lit. ‘head house’. Similar forms occur in WSA: CA ras el bēt ‘toit’ (Deredinger 1923: 163), râs al bêt/râs bêt ‘toit’ (Jullien de Pommerol 1999: 1049); NA raas al-beet ‘roof’ (Owens 1996: 291).

57rass gohoui ‘entêté’ (Muraz 1926: 169), lit. ‘hard head’: cf. Fulfulde sattugol hoore (Bah 2014: 196), lit. ‘be strong head’; Hausa táurí-n kâi ‘stubborn’ (Owens 1996: 312), lit. ‘hardness-of head’; Kanuri kalâ cíbbua ‘stubborn’ (Cyffer 1994: 181), lit. ‘head strong-having’; Sango (tî) ngangü-li (Ngalasso-Mwatha 2013: 393), lit. ‘(of) hard head’; Sara languages – Ngambaye dɔ̀-ngàn̄g ‘entêtement, obstination’ (Chata & al. 2015: 26), Sar dɔ̀-ngàn̄g ‘entêtement, caractère récalcitrant’ (Constant & Keegan 2016: 32), both lit ‘hard head’. Similar forms are attested in WSA: CA ras göwi ‘entété’ (Deredinger 1923: 134); NA raasa gawi ‘stubborn’ (Owens 2014: 150), lit. ‘his head is hard’.


58Turku, initially a military pidgin, emerged in the latter half of the 19th century and was still in use in the early decades of the 20th century, as one of the trade languages in French Equatorial Africa (Tosco & Owens 1993: 181-183). At the time, Arabic had not made as yet significant inroads into Southern Chad. Chabrelie (1935: 130), for instance, writes that “l’Arabe du Tchad [a] pénétré très peu en pays Sara”, while “au Sud c’est le Sango qui domine”, which “s’infiltre de plus en plus dans les villages des pays Sara”. In Chad, Turku was one of the langues véhiculaires used, together with Bagirmi, Fulfulde, Sara, and Sango (Jullien de Pommerol 1997: 54-55). Adding to the complexity of the language situation in Chad are two other important languages, Hausa and Kanuri.

59The lexical data examined in this paper accord well with the sociolinguistic context in which Turku emerged and was used. The findings illustrate the important lexical influence on Turku of Sara-Bagirmi languages as well as of Sango. The latter also served as an intermediary for words of ultimately Bangala and/or Lingala origin. As shown, the lexical contribution of Fulfulde, Hausa and Kanuri is less significant.

60Turku shares with WSA a number of African-derived lexical items; (some of) these may have reached Turku indirectly, via varieties of WSA.

61As noted by Owens (1993: 298), the only varieties of Arabic which have a lexical class of ideophones are those spoken in the Sudanic area. The occurrence of ideophones is thus another commonality of Turku and WSA.

62The semantic calques recorded in Turku provide further evidence for an “idiomatic structure”, which is the result of areal convergence, cutting across genetic affiliations (see also Owens 1996, 2014). However, forms structurally similar or identical to some of these calques are widely recorded in pidgins/creoles, with various lexifier languages (Avram 2003: 37-35, Parkvall & Baker 2012). Therefore, it may be the case that for some speakers “struggling to communicate” such forms were actually “lexical innovations” (Parkvall & Baker 2012: 231-232), rather than calques.


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1 The <ng> is a transcription error and should read <gn>

2 The <b> is a misprint and should read <g>.

3 The <y> is a misprint, and should read <g>; cf. gluantmissil-gombo (Muraz 1926: 55).

4 The <nn> is a misprint and should read <mm>; cf. eunuquehaddimmbang(Muraz 1926: 49)

5 The <a> is a transcription error, and should read <u>.

6 Cf. Juba Arabic: nyerekú / nyerekúk (Tosco & Owens 1993: 249), nyirikuk (Behnstedt & Woidich 2011: 37); early Nubi: nyaruku / nerakūk (Avram 2017), modern Nubi: nyeréku (Behnstedt & Woidich 2011: 37).

7 In some Hausa dialects /f/ is realized as [p] (Newman 2007: x).

8 The <h> is a misprint and should read <y>, cf. dìyá ‘femme’.

9 In NA duḫān also means ‘tobacco’ (Lethem 1920: 460)


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