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Fon
Fon gbè
Native to Benin, Togo
Ethnicity Fon nu
Native speakers
2.2 million (2000–2006)[1]
Official status
Official language in
 Benin
Language codes
ISO 639-2 fon
ISO 639-3 Variously:
fon – Fon
mxl – Maxi
guw – Gun
gbh – Defi
wem – Weme
cib – Ci
Glottolog east2711  (split up in Eastern Gbe)[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.
Gbe languages

Fon (native name Fon gbè, pronounced [fɔ̃̄ɡ͡bè]) 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[edit]

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

Phonology[edit]

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

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

Vowel phonemes of Fon[3]
Oral Nasal
front back front back
Close i u ĩ ũ
Close-Mid e o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ ɛ̃ ɔ̃
Open a ã
Consonant phonemes of Fon[3]
Labial Coronal Palatal Velar Labial
-velar
"Nasal" m ~ b n ~ ɖ
Occlusive (p) t d k ɡ kp ɡb
Fricative f v s z x ɣ ɣʷ
Approximant l ~ ɾ ɲ ~ j w

/p/ only occurs in linguistic mimesis and loanwords, though often it is replaced by /f/ in the latter, as in cɔ́fù '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 [ɖ] [n] are allophones. [ɲ] is in free variation with [j̃]; 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 [ɥ] before /i/.

The only consonant clusters in Fon have /l/ or /j/ as the second consonant; after (post)alveolars, /l/ is optionally realized as [ɾ]: klɔ́ 'to wash', wlí 'to catch', jlò [d͡ʒlò] ~ [d͡ʒɾò] '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: HIGHHIGH, HIGHLOW, LOWHIGH, and LOWLOW.

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.

/ xʷèví-sà-tɔ́ é xɔ̀ àsɔ̃́ wè /
[ xʷèvísáꜜtɔ́ ‖ é ꜜxɔ̂ | àsɔ̃́ wê ‖ ]
fish-sell-aɡent s/he PERF buy crab two
Hwevísatɔ́, é ko hɔ asón we.
"The fishmonger, she bought two crabs"

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

Orthography[edit]

Fon alphabet
Majuscule A B C D Ɖ E Ɛ F G GB I J K KP L M N NY O Ɔ P R S T U V W X Y Z
Minuscule a b c d ɖ e ɛ f g gb i j k kp l m n ny o ɔ p r s t u v w x y z
Sound a b d ɖ e ɛ f ɡ ɡb i k kp l m n ɲ o ɔ p ɣ 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 [mɛ̃], Fon [fɔ̃]. Tone is generally not written except when necessary.

Sample text

From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

GBETA GBƐ Ɔ BI TƆN EE ƉƆ XÓ DÓ ACƐ E GBƐTƆ ƉÓ KPODO SISI E ƉO NA ƉÓ N'I LƐ KPO WU E WEXWLE
Ee nyi ɖɔ hɛnnu ɖokpo mɛ ɔ, mɛ ɖokpoɖokpo ka do susu tɔn, bɔ acɛ ɖokpo ɔ wɛ mɛbi ɖo bo e ma sixu kan fɛn kpon é ɖi mɛɖesusi jijɛ, hwɛjijɔzinzan, kpodo fifa ni tiin nu wɛkɛ ɔ bi e ɔ, ...

References[edit]

  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. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Eastern Gbe". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  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 [ɖ] are denasalized allophones of /m/ and /n/ before oral vowels.

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fon_language — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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Pastor Pauling preaching in Fon in Azouzoundji south of Abomey, Benin in a Church of the Nazarene.

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43 news items

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Thu, 28 Apr 2016 15:52:30 -0700

“We don't do black magic,” says Haitian Vodou healer Manbo Katy. “We do white magic. That is cleaner and holier.” Katy is the subject of a new short documentary by Broadly, directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker. In the years since ...

GhanaWeb

GhanaWeb
Fri, 08 Apr 2016 02:56:15 -0700

'Voodoo' (also known separately as Vodun, Voudoun, Vodou, Vaudoux, Vodoun or Voudou), which means 'spirit' in the Fon language of the people of Benin – regarded as the birthplace of the faith – is practised in Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, and Benin. It is the ...

FRANCE 24

FRANCE 24
Sat, 19 Mar 2016 09:30:00 -0700

But since his appointment in Benin, he has swapped his tailored business suits for flowing African robes and punctuates his political rallies with expressions in the local Fon language. He also regularly reminds voters of his political pedigree: his ...

Bloomberg

Bloomberg
Thu, 03 Mar 2016 00:40:21 -0800

Benin's estimated 400,000 motorcycle taxi drivers who're known as zemidjans, “take-me-quickly” in the Fon language, are highly unionized and may play a key role in the vote. Almost all candidates are wooing the unions including the Zemidjan Movement ...

Phys.Org

Phys.Org
Mon, 16 Nov 2015 22:33:45 -0800

The device—called "Mivo", which means "Take it easy" in the local Fon language—has been marketed by a charity called Autre Vie. For the last three years, the organisation has been trying to turn Beninese away from their reliance on charcoal or wood ...

Business Insider

Business Insider
Thu, 15 Oct 2015 07:15:00 -0700

... secretary-general of the country's union confederation. Elsewhere, radio stations played revolutionary songs from the 1970s and 1980s in tribute. "Are you ready for the revolution?," asked one song in the local Fon language. "We're ready," a chorus ...

The Economist

The Economist
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 03:37:55 -0700

The real name was Vodou, derived from a word meaning “Spirit” or “God” in the Fon language of Benin. It was monotheistic, but its many recognised spirits were important messengers and helpmeets for the deity. It healed mind, soul and body, guiding “all ...

NBCNews.com

NBCNews.com
Sun, 13 Sep 2015 17:00:00 -0700

Much of Beauvoir's work as Ati was challenging what he saw as racist stereotyping of vodou, which means "spirit" or "god" in Fon language of Benin and was brought to the Caribbean from West Africa with the slave trade during the 18th century. He was ...
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