Sunday, November 26, 2017

Meroitic Relationships to African Languages

     The great savant Cheikh Anta Diop (1974,1981) was convinced that many West African groups had formerly lived in the Egypto-Nubian region before they migrated to West Africa(Diop,1974). He supported this hypothesis with a discussion of the cognation between the names for gods in Egypt-Nubia and West Africa (Diop,1974), Egypto-Nubian and West African ethnomyns and toponyms common to both regions (Diop,1981)[1] and West African and Egyptian languages.

  In 1984, I deciphered the Meroitic script. I discussed this in my book Meroitic Writing and Literature . There are many relationships between Meroitic and other African languages. For example, In Oromo/Galla, the term for queen is 'gifti'; and both 'naaga-ta" in Somali and Wolof we find 'jigen' mean woman. These terms appear to be related to Kdi > gti/e.

  Yet even though we find cognition between some Cushitic and Nubian we can not use these languages to completely decipher Meroitic as proven by many past researchers. The Tocharian language on the otherhand, does allow us to read Meroitic and show  its relationship with other African languages.

   A comparison of Meroitic to African langauges indicate that Meroitic is closely related to languages spoken in West Africa. Like Meroitic, the pronoun is often a suffix in other African languages. This suffix of the third person singular is usually n-, in other African languages. For example:
     Bambara:    no  p r i   'his  house'
      Kpelle:     nyin        'his tooth'
      Akan:       ni dan      'his house'
  The Meroitic a- third person singular affix is also found in other African languages. For example:
          Swahili: (1) a-ta kwenda  'he's going to go'
                   (2) a-li-kwenda   'he is here'
          Manding: (1) ya zo  'he has come'
                (2) ya shirya mana 'he prepared (it) for us'.
  The use of -i particle to form nouns in Meroitic my correspond to the use of the -it and -ayy suffixes to form nouns in Wolof. The Wolof abstract noun formative suffix is -it, -itt, e.g., dog 'to cut', dogit  'sharpness'.

In Wolof abstract nouns are also formed by the addition of the suffix -ayy, and in Dyolo -ay, e.g.,
          baax 'good',  baaxaay  'goodness'.

     Prefixes are rarely used in Meroitic. The most common prefixes include the prefix of reinforcement -p, the intensive prefix -a and the imperfect prefix -b. The  p-, can be either the prefix of reinforcement e.g., ŝ 'patron', p-ŝ 'the patron' ; or the imperfect prefix e.g.,ŝiñ'satisfaction', p-ŝiñ  "continuous satisfaction'.

     The Meroitic p- affix, means ‘the’. This Meroitic grammatical element corresponds to the Egyptian demonstrative pi 'the'.

     In Meroitic, the –o element is used to change a noun into an adjective. The Meroitic –o suffix, agrees with the use affix –u, joined to a vowel, in other African languages to form adjectives.  In Swahili, many adjectives are formed by the k-  consonant plus the vowel -u : Ku. For example:
          (1) imba  'sing' ;   zuri  'fine'
               Kuimba  kuzuri    'Fine singing'
          (2)  -bivu  'ripe'    Kuiva  'to ripen'
          (3)   -bovu 'rotten'   Kuoza   'to rot'.

     In Meroitic the plural case was made by the suffix -b, or reduplication. Reduplication was also used as a plural effect in Meroitic, e.g., d'donations',d-d 'considerable donations'.            Reduplication is also used in other African languages to express the idea of abundance and diversity. For example,
          Swahili: Chungu kikavunjika vipande vipnade.
                   "The cooking pot broke into pieces".

The Meroitic use of the -b suffix to make the plural number, corresponds to the use of the -ba- affix in African languages. In the Bantu languages the plural is formed by the ba- affix. In the Manding group of languages we see use of the -ba suffix. In Manding, the -ba affix is joined to nouns to denote the idea of physical or moral greatness. For example:
          (1) na-folo      'good, rich'
              na-folo-ba   'great fortune'
          (2) so-kalo      'piece'
              so-kalo-ba   'considerable quarter of a village'.

     In the Meroitic inscriptions there is constant mention of the khi 'body, spirit', the kha 'the abstract personality', the kho 'a shinning or translucent spirit soul'; and the Ba 'soul'. In many African languages the term Ba, is used to denote the terms  'soul or to be'. For example:
                Egyptian:  Ba
                Mbachi  :  Ba
                Coptic  :  Bai
                Bambara  :  Be
                 Fang    :  Be.

    The kha, existed within and without the human body. It would remain with the body until its flesh decayed, then it would either leave the tomb or hunt it. The Meroitic idea of Kha, as a spirit corresponds to Ka, in many African languages. For example:

           Egyptian :    Ka
           Manding  :    Ka
           Banda     :   Ka.

     The linguistic evidence makes it clear that some of the Meroites may have spoken languages that belonged to the Niger-Congo-Mande family of languages. This is supported by the linguistic evidence of shared grammatical forms and lexical items between Meroitic and Niger-Congo-Mande discussed in this chapter.

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