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16. A Note on Some Nilotic Languages.

Author(s): Archibald Shaw

Source: Man, Vol. 24 (Feb., 1924), pp. 22-25
Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2788090 .
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[February, 1924.


Nos. 15-16.]

comparedwitha stonehoe of exactlythe same type as the one now found,but

is haftedwith a
comingapparentlyfromMalay. The ironhoe in Peal's illustration
cane loop goingroundthe tang and restingon the shouldersof the hoe. In the
Khasi type the existingiron hoe has the tang fittinginto an iron socket,*while
the smaller Yachumi Naga hoe figuredby Mr. Balfourin MAN, July,1917. and
by me in " The Sema Nagas " (p. 66) is used with a wooden handle, the tang
fittinginto a slot.
The Konyak and Yachumiironhoesare doubtless,like the Khasi hoe,inherited
suggeststhat somebranchofthe
but thestonehoe nowfigured
fromthe Mon-Khmer,
Mon-Khmerrace inhabitedor passed throughthe Naga Hills beforeit had learnt
the use of iron.

Africa: Linguistics.
A Note on some


Nilotic Languages,


By the VenerableArchdeacon



The following notes suggested themselves to a student of Dinka on reading

a paper on the Nilotic languages in the JOURNAL, Vol. L., 1920, p. 327 et seq., to
which the references are made.
Bari language (? 1, ii).-This language (dialects of it) extends considerably
beyond the reduced Bari tribe. It is spoken by the following tribes: -Chir,
Mandari, Nyambara (Nyangwara), Fajelu, Kakwa (extending into the Belgian
Congo), Nyepo, Kuku. They are contiguous, and cover an area roughly 150 by
100 miles.
Shilluk dialects (? 1, iv.).-The Beir language proper is not a dialect of Shilluk.
The mistake no doubt arose through the word Ber being a name commonly given
by Dinkas to any neighbouringtribe of differentspeech. North of the Sobat River
I have often found Dinkas speaking of the Shilluks as Ber. The southern Dinkas
give the name to a tribe sometimes spoken of as Ajibba which lies to the east, and
it is this tribe which the Sudan Government has named Beir in imitation of the
Dinka name for them. I have on one or two occasions taken down a few words of
the Beir language, which shows little similarity to Shilluk or its kindred dialects.
The numeralswill,perhaps, sufficeforexample :-1, adoi; 2, rama; 3, iyu; 4, thorkoc;
5, tham; 6, wec; 7, oth; 8, wam; 9, thamkana; 10, amatho.
There is a tribe named Beri east of Mongalla which speaks a dialect of Shilluk,
and still has occasional intercourse with the Acholi furthersouth.
The word Luo is interesting, as being the name by which several different
tribes,each speaking a dialect of Shilluk, call themselves,viz. :-Jur, Acholi,Alur, and
Nilotic Kavirondo. With exception of Acholi and Alur these tribes are separated
from each other by tribes speaking entirely differentlanguages. We know that
Shilluik,Jur, Acholi, Gan,g,and Nilotic Kavirondo are all names given by foreigners,
though, if the question is asked by a stranger, some members of these tribes will
answer that they are the original names. Can Luo be the original name of the Shillukspeaking stock, analogous to the name JIENG, common to all Dinka-speaking tribes ?
The name" Jvrn" (? 1, iv) is also liable to lead to confusion. It is apparently a
Dinka word meaning " people," " tribe." Early travellers, therefore, adopted it
for at least two entirely differenttribes living on the borders of the Dinka country,
and the name is still applied to both. One is a Shilluk-speakingtribe between Rumbek
and Tonj, who will now tell strangersthat they are Jur, but call themnselves" Luo."
The other is a tribe living round Mvolo, whose language is akin to Bongo, and who
call themselves " Lori."
? GB.-Future particle " bi " is, in Dinka, derived fromthe irregularverb " ben,"
to come. This is clear wlien a Dinka, speakingfemphatically, will sometimes
* See Gurdon:

" The Khasis," p. 12 (2nd Edition).

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[No. 16.

substitutetheoriginal" ben." Also,whenspeakingin one place of beingabout to

do somethingin anotherplace, he will substituteformsof " lo," to go, for "bi."
No " b " occurs in the root of the Dinka verb " to be."
N.B.-Dinkas are pedanticin theirpreciseuse of the verbs" come" and "go."
Whensummoned,a manwillcall in answerfroma distance" An lo," " I go ;" never
An bvo," I come."
? 9.-Dinka has an inexhaustiblesupplyof reduplicatedforms,generallyused
with the verb " lo," to go. They are oftenobviouslyonomatopoeic,and almost
always used of vivid description. I do not thinkthat any of themare conjugated,
and so they should doubtlessbe termedadverbs. If there are, as Muller says,
amongthe most primitiveformsof speech,the derivationof some commonwords
is suggested,e.g.la kakak,to run-cf. k/ct,
to flee.
to *caicai, to go fast-cf. cat, to walk.
to debedeb,to toddle.
o riauriau,to glitter-c.f. rial, a silvercoin.
to yauyau,to rustle.
Reduplicatednoun formsare also found. e.g.n&oinhoi,
glands in the neck.
the dav beforeyesterday.
atitiak,waves. I have not heard this used as a verb.
beo, a goat, formsits plural buotor bebeo.
? 10.-Causation is commonlyexpressedin Dinka by the verb co (ca), which
appears to be connectedwithcak, to create. It needs to be carefully
in use fromthe formsne, neke,meaninglet.
In all Dinka tenses,exceptthePres.Continuousand Past Continuous,the Direct
Object of a TransitiveVerb is placed between the tense particle and the verb
root, e.g.An (a) cam cwin,I am eating porridge.
An ye cwin cam, I eat porridge.
An bi (lo) cwin cam, I will eat porridge.
(? 33).-Alternatively,iftheparticle" e," of,is insertedthe directobjectfollows
the verb in each tense, e.g.
An (a) cam e cwin.
An ye cam e cwtn.
An bi (lo) cam e cwin.
In Habitual mood particles,whichare the ordinaryformsof the verb,to be,
are insertedAn (a) cam, I am eating. Pres. Continuous.
An ye cam, I eat. Pres. Habitual.
? 11.-Rot (ro), pl. rot, self,cannot be considereda suffixany more than any
othernoun, e.g.I am escaping (stealingmyself).
An (a) kwal rot.
An (a)bi rotkwal.
I shall escape.
I shall escape again.
An (a)bi rot ber kwal.
in the formof -re.
In Acholithiswordappearsto have becomea truesuffix
? 13.-What Westermannsays of Shillukholds truein Dinka, that the Passive
Voice is generallyused in preferenceto the Active.
? 18.-Tem-wel and tem-u2ar.There is no reason for treating these as
* f is used for sound of ng in singer.

c is used for sound approximating to that of ch in church.

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No. 16.]



compounds. It is only in certaintenses that they can even be in juxtaposition,

An (a)temwel.
I am interrupting
An ci wel bi tem.
I will not interrupt.
An ci wel dai tem.
T wiRlnot soon interrupt.
? 19. See noteabove on ? 6.-The Habitualprefixis the ordinaryverb " to be,"
ye, conjugatedin its variousforms. The morecommonprefix" a " is the particle
of the ordinarytenses (i.e., not Habitual).
Bor dialect has a prefix" du "-which appears to denotean officialcharacter
in the one who acts, e.g.1. A midwife. 2. A repeater-one who
repeats each sentence of a public
A messenger.
A witness.
The Creator.
? 26. A.-Dinka substantives,with a few exceptions,ending in the letters
p, t, c or k, followed by a qualifyingword or phrase, change these final letters
as follows:p to m.
lieme,this tongue.
t to n.
dit, bird.
din e toc,a bird of the marsh.
c to ni.
mafidit, a big fire.
mac, fire.
k to n.
tiinidit, an old woman.
biok_ a hide.
bion-= a small skin (cloth).
The latter is surelythe changed formof the former.
Many words which have lost their final consonantrecovervestiges of it in
this systemof mutation,e.g.,jo(k), dog,; joiudie,my dog.
B. The Dinka diminutivesare1. *ti, modifyingto tin.
2. tintet.
an infant.
met,a child; manti or mantintet,
ti appears to be derivedfromtin-teat. I have noticedthat a man describing
a child as verysmall will actually touch his breast whilespeakingof the child as
manti (a breast child).
-tetmay be1. the adverb etet,very,foundin the Chich Dinka dialect; or
2. fromthe verb twlat,to suckle.
The formtinakanis evidentlythe diminutiveti in ordinarycombinationwith
ekan, this; e.g., kur tin ekan, this little stone.
? 27. Many wordsin Dinka that end in a vowelformtheirpluralsby adding-i,
pl. kurei,
kure,a pigeon.
mono,baked bread.
pl. monoi;
Foreign words in process of adoption are made to formtheir plurals thus:
coka (fromArabic shoka,a fork),pl cokai.
? 28. Many substantivesformtheirplurals by adding " k," e.g.pl. duok,
du, a boy.
pl. ghok;
twei, a cow.
* The signs, d, n are used forinterdentals,
fromt, d, n.
t [This shouldmoreprobablybe writtenghuera.-N. W. T.]

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[Nos. 16-17.

but,as in almosteveryDinka ruleofgrammar,the converseis just as common:

pl. go.
gok,a quiver.
pl. acuze.
Many substantivesformplural by adding t. I know of no instance of the
converseof this-aizau, wild cat.
pl. ana.t
pI. piot.
piou, heart.
kou, back.
pl. kot.
? 32. The ordinaryDinka Genitiveis formedby the particlese or de,of; pl. ke,
the numberdependingon that of the possessednoun, e.g.ton e (de) met.
The spear of the child.
toon ke met.
The spears of the child.
But what has been describedas anothermethodof expressingthe Genitive
is found when the relationshipbetweenthe possessed and the possessingis very
close, e.g., in speakingof parts of the bodymuik(hold) mret(child) norn(head).
Hold the child's head.
tieke(shut) ghot(hut) tok (door).
Shut the door of the hut.
Here,however,the second(or possessed)nounseemsto be a sortof " Accusative
of Respect" or reference,only translatableinto English by a variety of our
:-Hold the childby the head. Closethe hut at its mouth. The proof
of this explanationlies in this constructiononly being used where the noun or
pronounconcernedformsthe objectofa verb,as in above sentences. But theregular
Genitivewithits prepositionis used wherethe nouns or pronounsformthe subject
of a verb, e.g.The child'shead is aching. (Moreidiomatically
nom de metatok.
expressed by met atok nom, the child is
achingin the head.)
There is evidentlya close connectionbetweenthis constructionand the use
of the pronommalformsa, i, e, wo, we, ke, as possessiveprefixesforparts of the
bodyin contrastto the ordinarypossessivesuffixes
-de,-da, -duon,-den.
The prefixesare only used wherethe noun concernedis the Objectof a verb,
e.g.Hold my head (or hold me by the head),
My head aches. (More idiomaticallyexpressed by An atch nom,I am achingin
the head.)


Africa, West: Archmeology.

Stone Oircles In Gambia. By NortheoteW. Thomas,M.A.

In thearticleon thissubject(Journal,LIII, 173,sq.) are a certainnumber I l
of pointswhichthe authorprobablyintendedto revise,but which,as a resultofhis
death beforehis paper appeared,have been leftin a rathermisleadingform. As
regardsthe Periplus of Hanno, the 12 days' voyagewas reckonedfromthe island
of Cerne,threedays' sail fromthe Lixus, and when he put back it was to Cerne.
The riverfullof crocodileswas seen near Cerne,not afterthe 12 days' run,and we
may, perhaps,identifyit withthe Wad 8ibika, but it is certainlynot the Senegal.
It is moreprobablethat the Lixus is the Wad Sus; the Wad Draa is probablythe
Chretes. Hanno's accountof theGambia is " a huge gulf,on the land side of which
" therewas a plain "; he describesone side only,and thereis no evidencethat he
sailed farup the river,nor yet that therewereanycattle,unlesswe take Herodotus,
IV, xliii, as evideheewithoutknowingto what part of Africait refers.

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