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Ajami Scripts for Mande Languages

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Chapter Summary

Mande people were among the first in West Africa to enter into contact with Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Mande phonological and morphological systems are radically different from Arabic: all Mande languages in question are tonal and most have seven vowels. They lack inflection, and vocalic oppositions serve mainly for lexical differentiation, but only marginally for grammatical ones. In this chapter, the graphemic inventories of each Mande Ajami variety are represented in a concise way. Before examining the grammatological properties of Arabic-based script as used for the Manding Ajami writing traditions, it should be noted that the Arabic-script graphemes are generally used unadapted and without differences in meaning. The chapter tabulates deviations of the Manding Ajami from Arabic script as used for Arabic.

Keywords: Ajami scripts; Arabic language; Arabic-script graphemes; grammatological properties; Mande languages; West Africa



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