Malinke-Bambara Loan Words in the Mayan Languages

In this paper we review the Malinke-Bambara loan words in the Mayan languages . This evidence of Malinke-Bambara loan words in the Mayan languages is probably the result of Mayan people living among the Mande speaking Olmecs 3000 years ago in a bilingual environment.

LINGUISTIC EVIDENCE OF AFRICAN INFLUENCE IN

ANCIENT AMERICA

 

Lyle Campbell and Terrence Kaufman (1976) have proposed that the Olmec spoke a Mixe-Zoquean speech, while Manrique Casteneda (1975,1983) believes that they spoke a Mayan language. Most researchers believe that the Olmec spoke one of the Otomanguean languages which include Zapotec, Mixtec and Otomi, to name a few.

Marcus (1989) is a strong advocate of the Otomangue hypothesis. Marcus (1989:148-151) believes that the Olmec spoke an Otomanguean language and also practiced the Proto-Otomangue religion.

The hypothesis that the Olmec spoke an Otomanguean language is not supported by the contemporary spatial distribution of languages spoken in the Tabsco/Veracruz area. Thomas A. Lee (1989:223) noted that "...closely Mixe, Zoque and Popoluca languages are spoken in numerous village in a mixed manner having little or no apparent semblance of linguistic or spatial unity. The general assumption, made by the few investigators who have considered the situation, is that the modern linguistic pattern is a result of the disruption of an old homogeneous language group by more powerful neighbors or invaders..."

The Olmec probably spoke a Manding language. Manding speaking Olmec probably came from West Africa. As a result, we find that the Olmec-Manding language is a substrata language in many Amerindian languages including Yucatec, and Otomi. The Olmec-Manding substrata in Otomi and Maya suggest that Maya and Otomanguean speaking invanders caused the disruption of the homogeneous Olmec language spoken in the riverine cities of the Olmec.

The most influential group in the rise of American civilization were the Manding speakers of West Africa. The Manding speaking people founded the first civilizations in much of West Africa 3500 years ago. They also founded the Olmec civilization in the New World and left numerous toponyms in Mexico and Panama.

The migration of Olmec speaking people from West Africa to Meso-America would explain the sudden appearence of the Olmec civilization . The Olmec culture appears suddenly in Meso-America, and archaeologist have failed to find any evidence of incipient Olmec religion and culture in this area. Commenting on this archaeological state of affairs Coe (1989:82) noted that "... the Olmec mental system , the Olmec art style, and Olmec engineering ability suddenly appeared in full-fledged form about 1200 B.C."

The Proto Olmec or Manding people formerly lived in North Africa in the Saharan Highlands : and Fezzan.(see C. A. Winters, "The Migration routes of the Proto Mande", The Mankind Quarterly 27(1), (1986) pp.77 98) . Here the ancestors of the Olmecs left their oldest inscription written in the Manding script (which some people call Libyco Berber, eventhough they can not be read in Berber) : was found at Oued Mertoutek and dated by Wulsin in , Papers of the peabody Museum of American Arcaheology and Ethnology (Vol.19(1), 1940), to 3000 B.C. This indicates that the Manding hand writing 2000 years before they settled the Gulf of Mexico.

These Proto-Olmec people lived in the Highlands of the Sahara. Here we find numerous depictions of boats engraved in the rock formations that these people used to navigate the Sahara before it became a desert.

The Olmec, another Central American culture and probably the first Americans to develop a number and math system, influenced their Mayan neighbors. Mayans borrowed much of their art and architecture from the Olmecs, including the pyramid structures that the Mayans are so famous for. The first of these great Mayan structures appeared between 400 B.C. and 150 A.D.

Although Wiener (1922) and Sertima (1976) believe that the Manding only influenced the medieval Mexican empire, the decipherment of the Olmec scripts and a comparative analysis of the Olmec and Manding civilizations show correspondence. (Winters 1979,1980,1981) The most important finding of Wiener (1922) was the identification of Manding inscriptions on the Tuxtla statuette. Although Wiener (1922) was unaware of the great age of the Tuxtla statuette his correct identification of the African origin of the signs on the statuette helped us to decipher the Olmec script and lead to the determination that the Olmec spoke a Manding language.

The linguistic evidence suggest that around 1200 B.C., when the Olmec arrived in the Gulf, region of Mexico a non-Maya speaking group wedged itself between the Huastecs and Maya. (Swadesh 1953) This linguistic evidence is supplemented by Amerindian traditions regarding the landing of colonist from across the Atlantic in Huasteca (we will discuss this tradition later).

The Manding speakers were early associated with navigation/sailing along the many ancient Rivers that dotted Africa in neolithic times. (McCall 1971; McIntosh and McIntosh 1981) These people founded civilization in the Dar Tichitt valley between 1800-300 B.C, and other sites near the Niger River which emptied into the Atlantic Ocean. (Winters 1986a)

The Olmecs spoke a Manding language. (Wuthenau 1980) This has been proven by the decipherment of the Olmec inscriptions. Due to the early spread of the manding language during the Olmec period Manding is a substratum language of many Amerind languages.

The Manding languages are a member of the Mande family of languages.(Platiel 1978; Galtier 1980) Mann and Dalby (1987), give Mande a peripheral status in the Niger-Congo superset.

As has been shown throughout this book the Manding settled many parts of the ancient world. The Olmec language has a high frequency of disyllabic roots of the CVCV,CV and CVV kind. Monosyllabic roots of the CV kind often reflect the proto-form for many Manding words.(Winters 1979)

As in most other Olmec languages, words formed through compounding CVCV and CV roots, e.g., (gyi/ji 'water') da-ji 'mouth-water, saliva', ny -ji 'eye-water:tear'. Manding has a well established affxial system, typified by the use of suffixes as useful morphemes expressing grammatical categories. Although tone is important in the Manding languages, it was least important in the Olmec group.

It is clear that contemporary Amerinds share few if any biological characteristics with Africans. Yet Greenberg (1987) has found many loan words in Amerind of possible African origin.

In addition to Malinke-Bambara loan words, there are numerous toponyms which unite the New World and Africa. (Vamos-Toth Bator 1983; Duarte 1895) For example, the Olmec/Manding suffix of nationality or locality -ka, is represented in Mexico as -ca, e.g., Juxllahuaca,Oaxoca, Toluca and etc. In addition Dr. Vamos-Toth (1983), has found over fifty identical toponyms in West Africa and Meso-America.

Below we will compare Manding and selected Amerind languages. Some of the diacritic features of the Amerind languages will be noted in this paper. But in the case of Manding/Olmec , on the other hand, diacritic marks will not be used in conformity with the African Reference Alphabet.(Mann and Dalby 1987, p.214)

OTOMI

Otomi and Manding also share many features in grammar, phonology and morphology. This is interesting because Dixon (1923) and Marquez (1956, pp.179-180) claimed that the Otomi had probably mixed in the past with Africans. Quatrefages (1889, pp.406-407) also believed that Africans formerly lived in Florida, the Caribbean and Panama. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltran (1972, p.107) admits a profound influence of Manding slaves in colonial America, but due to their enslavement the slavery period can not account for the genetic relationship which exist between Otomi and Manding.

Manding is closely related to old Otomi, rather than the Mezquital dialect. As a result most of the terms compared herein are taken from Neve y Molina (1975) and Manuel Orozcoy y Berra's Geografia da las lenguas y Carta Ethgrafica de Mexico.

Although Neve y Molina's work is over 200 years old, most of the terms he collected agree with contemporary Otomi terms in most details, except for the lack of diacritic marks and nasalized vowels or glottalized consonants. For example, whereas in the Muger Otomi dialect we find danxu 'woman', Neve y Molina (NyM) had dansu; Mudurar dialect da 'ripe, mature', NyM da 'id.' ;Ojo Na daa 'eye', NyM daa 'id.'; Hija ttixu 'son', NyM ti; and Diente Na tzi 'tooth', NyM tsi.

The phonology of contemporary Otomi can be explained by evolution. The sound change from s > z in the terms for 'woman' and s > x for 'tooth', can be explained as a normal historical transition from one Otomi phoneme to another. The addition of the Otomi possessive na to the actual words for 'eye' and 'tooth'.

The orthography for Otomi dialects has been a focus of controversy for many years. D. Bartholomew , is a leading advocate for the illustration of tone in any discussion of Otomi. H.R. Bernard on the other hand, has noted the desirability of vowels in a practical spelling/orthography of Otomi. But, both in Otomi and Manding, tone plays an important role.

Other affinities exist between Otomi and Manding. As in Taino, the phonemic syllable is primarily CV and a tone.

All of these languages are agglutinative. In both Olmec/Manding and Otomi the words are formed by adding two different terms together or an affix. Manual Orozco (p.129) records ka-ye as the Otomi word for 'holy man'. This term is formed by ka 'holy' and ye 'man'. Another word is da-ma 'mature woman'. This word is formed by ma 'woman' and da 'mature,ripe'.

Otomi and Olmec/Manding share grammatical features. The Otomi ra 'the', as in ra c, 'the cold' agrees with the Manding -ra suffix used to form the present participle e.g., kyi-ra 'the envoy'. The Otomi use of bi to form the completed action agrees with the Manding verb 'to be' bi. For example, Otomi bi du 'it died' and bi zo-gi 'he left it" ,is analogous to Manding a bi-sa. Otomi da is used to form the incomplete action e.g., ci 'eat': daci 'he will eat'. This agrees with the Manding da, la affix which is used to form the factitive or transitive value e.g., la bo 'to take the place'. In addition Otomi ? no , is the comple-tive e.g., bi ?no mbo ra 'he was inside his house'. This shows affinity to the Manding suffix of the present participle -no, e.g., ji la-sigi-no 'dormant water'.

The Mezquital Otomi pronominal system shows some analogy to that of Manding, but Neve y Molina's Otomi pronouns show full agreement :

 

First Second Third

 

Otomi ma i, e a

 

Manding n', m' I ,e a

Otomi and Manding also share many cognates from the basic vocabulary including

 

English Otomi Manding

 

son/daughter t?I,ti de,di

 

eyes da do

 

brother ku koro

 

sister nkhu ben-k

 

lip sine sine

 

mouth ne ne

 

man ta/ye tye/kye

 

 

The Otomi and Manding languages also have similar syntax e.g., Otomi ho ka ra 'ngu 'he makes the houses', and Manding a k nu 'he makes the family habitation (houses)'.

 

MAYA

The Manding and Mayan languages share many grammatical and lexical affinities. In both these languages there is striking similar distinctions between alienable and inalienable possessed nouns. (Welmers 1973)

The Mayan languages are spoken in an area from Yucatan and E Chiapas in Mexico, into much of Guatemala and Belize, and W Honduras. The Quiche language is a member of the Mayan family, spoken in the western highlands of Guatemala. It is most closely related to the Cakchiquel, Tzutujil, Sacapultee, and Sipacapa languages of central Guatemala and more distantly related to Pocomam, PocomchÝ, KekchÝ, and other languages of the Eastern Mayan group .

The Manding and Mayan languages have similar pronominal systems:

 

First Second Third

 

Manding ni,n',na e a

 

Maya in ech a

 

J.A. Fox (1985) observed that Maya had a previous third person prefix *i, which was joined to many Maya kinship and body part terms. This discovery by Fox, is most interesting because Winters (1986b, p.87) suggested that a *y and/or *-i- was prefixed to Mande terms for the head and face. In Taino an i- , is also joined to names for parts of the body e.g., iz 'eyes'.

There are many Malinke-Bambara loan words in the Mayan languages including:

 

 

Maya English Manding

 

naal parent,mother na

 

ba father pa

 

ba lord ba

 

 

In addition to finding Malinke-Bambara loan words from the basic vocabulary in the Mayan languages, Manding and Mayan languages share formational elements. For example, there is parallel use of -ma- to form the negative mood in Maya and Manding. And in both these languages the suffix -na is used to indicate possession.

The Olmec settled many early sites in the lands occupied by the Mayan speaking people.

As a result the Mayan speaking people adopted many Olmec/Mande terms. As a result we find numerous Mande words copied into the Yucatec and Quiche Mayan languages.

Below we compare the Quiche and Malinke-Bambara languages. The terms compared in this study come from the following sources:

 

Delafosse, Maurice.(1929). *La Langue Mandingue et ses Dialectes (Malinke, Bambara, Dioula)*. Vol 1. Intro. Grammaire, Lexique Francais Mandingue).Paris: Librarie. Orientaliste Paul Geuthner

 

Campbell,Lyle.(1977). Quichean linguistic prehistory .Berkeley : University of California Press.University of California publications in linguistics. v. 81

 

Tedlock,Dennis.(1996). Popol Vuh. New York: A Touchstone Book.

In Malinke-Bambara the word Ka and Kan means 'serpent, upon high,and sky'. In Yucatec we find that can/kan and caan/kaan means ' serpent and heaven'. The fact that both languages share the same homophonic words , point to a formerly intimate contact between the speakers of Mayan and Mande languages in ancient times.

Often we find that Mande words beginning with /s/ , appear as /c/ ,/x/ or /k/ in the Mayan languages. For example, Malinke Bambara, the word sa means 'sell, to buy and market'. This is related to Mayan con 'to sell', and can 'serpent'. In Quiche we have ka:x 'sky' which corresponds to Mande sa / ka 'sky'. In Quiche many words beginning with /ch/ correspond to words they borrowed from the Malinke-Bambara languages possessing an initial /k/, e.g.,

 

Quiche Malinke-Bambara

 

ch'ich' bird kono

 

achi man kye

 

chi>ic bite ki

 

chhix rock kaba

 

It is also interesting to note that many Quiche words beginning with /x/ which is pronounced 'sh', correspond to words borrowed from Malinke-Bambara with an initial /s/ e.g.,

 

Quiche Malinke-Bambara

 

xab' rain sa

 

ixa? seed si

 

uxe root sulu, suru

 

 

Other loan words in Quiche from Malinke-Bambara include:

 

 

Quiche Malinke-Bambara

 

saq'e daytime,sunlight sa 'heaven, sky'

 

k'i many kika

 

ja lineage, family ga, gba

 

ja water ji

 

q'aq fire ga-ndi

 

palo lake, sea ba, b'la

 

k'oto to carve, cut ka

 

k':um squash kula, kura

 

Ba father fa

 

Ba lord Ba 'great' (Person)

 

ka 'land,earth' ka 'suffix joined to names of lands,etc.

 

ich eye n'ya

 

le the, that, this le

 

ma no ma

 

naal parent, mother na

 

ni point, at the point na

 

cah earth, land ka (see above)

 

balam jaguar/tiger balan 'leopard worship'

 

sib' smoke sisi

 

xolo:m head ku

 

xuku? boat, canoe kulu

 

ca<al neck ka

 

qul neck ka

 

k'u?sh chest kesu

 

k'o:x mask ku

 

pu:m stomach furu

 

pach bark fara

 

 

 

The loan words in Quiche from Malinke-Bambara show the following patterns

 

a------->a c------->s

 

o------->u c------->k

 

u------->a z------->s

 

x ---------s k------->k

 

x--------- k p------->f

 

q------->k ch------>k

 

 

 

Below we compared Yucatec and Malinke-Bambara terms. I have

placed the page number where each Mayan term can be found in Maurice

Swadesh, Critina Alvarez and Juan R. Bastarrachea's, "Diccionario de

Elementos del Maya Yucatec Colonial" (Mexico: Universidad Nacional

Autonoma de Mexico Centro de Estudios Mayas, 1970). The Malinke-Bambara terms come from Delafosse, Maurice.(1929). *La Langue Mandingue et ses Dialectes (Malinke, Bambara, Dioula)*. Vol 1. Intro. Grammaire, Lexique Francais Mandingue).Paris: Librarie. Orientaliste Paul Geuthner.

 

Phonetic correspondences exists between the Malinke-Bambara and Yucatec. There is full agreement between k, m,n, and t. There is also assimilation of c to k, z to s.

 

Yucatec Malinke Bambara

 

z s

 

Zuu, 'joined,unite su,' shape p.95

 

Zul 'to wet' su, 'precipitation p.95

 

Zou, 'to entagle' su, 'be i mixture' p.95

 

Zay, 'assemble' se, 'join' p.94

 

c k

 

Earth cab ka p.15

 

Serpent can kan p.18

 

Rock chhix kaba

 

To cause cal ku

 

Sky caan ka p.15, p.38

 

Village cah ka 'suffix joined to names of towns p.15

 

 

 

Maize co 'grain of maize' ka p.40

 

 

 

k k

 

Sun kin k'le p.58

 

Buckle kal koli p.57

 

To kill kim ki

 

Sky kan kan

 

God, sacre ku ku, ko p.60

 

 

 

t t

 

Man ta' tye p.79

 

Come tal ta p.79

 

To cover too tu

 

Law toh tu

 

Truth toh tu, 'fact, real' p.81

 

Forest te tu

 

Male ton,'male sexual organ' tye, khon p.81

 

Saliva tub tu p.82

 

b b

 

Went,gone bin bi p.36

 

Water bak ba

 

Water ha a p.15

 

Lord ba ba

 

Arrows been bine

 

Balan 'jaguar'/tiger balan 'leopard worship' p.17

 

n n

 

Mother na' na p.66

 

House nu nu

 

House na nu p.66

 

Nose ni nu p.16

 

p p

 

To be pe pe

 

To break pa'a pe p.71

 

 

There are many kinship terms in the Mayan languages probably of Malinke-Bambara origin including :

 

Maya English Manding

 

Naal parent,mother na

 

Ba father pa

 

Ba lord ba

 

An examination of Mayan and Mande homophones also indicates striking similarity. There is a connection between Malinke- Bambara and Yucatec homonyms for 'high, sky and serpent'.

In Malinke-Bambara the word Ka and Kan means 'serpent, upon high,and sky'. In Yucatec we find that can/kan and caan/kaan means ' serpent and heaven'. The fact that both languages share the same homophonic words , point to a formerly intimate contact between the speakers of Mayan and Mande languages in ancient times.

Often we find that some borrowed Mande words beginning with /s/ , through nativization appear as /c/ in the Mayan languages. For example, word the Malinke-Bambara word sa means 'sell, to buy and market'. This is related to Mayan con 'to sell', and can 'serpent'. We also have other examples

 

 

Mayan Malinke-Bambara

 

Can serpent sa

 

Con to sell sa, san

 

Caan heaven, sky sa

 

Cah 'small village' so 'village, home'

 

 

The copying of Mande /s/ words into Mayan lexicons as /c/ words are probably the result of phonological interference of Mayan /c/, which influenced how Malinke-Bambara words were lexicalized by biligual Yucatec speakers. Interference occurs when speakers carry features from their first language over into a second language. Thus, we have Yucatec con 'to sell', and Malinke-Bambara san 'to sell. Many of the Mayan sites were first settled by the Olmec.

This is supported by the fact that the Mayan inscriptions from Palenque claim that the first ruler of this city was the Olmec leader U-Kix-chan. In addition, some Mayan kings were styled Kuk according to Mary Miller and Karl Taube,in "The Gods and symbols of ancient Mexico and Maya, said this term was also used in the Olmec inscriptions, like those from Tuxtla, to denote the local ruler of many Olmec sites. It was probably during this period of contact that the Maya began to copy Mande terms and incorporate them in their lexicon. It is time that we stop the name calling and work together to explain to the world the African presence in ancient America.

Many of these loan words are from the basic vocabulary. They support the hypothesis that in ancient times Mayan speakers lived in intimate contact with the Mande speaking Olmec people. Moreover this is further confirmation of Leo Wiener's theory in Africa and the Discovery of America that the religion and culture of the Meso-Americans was influenced by Mande speaking people from West Africa.

The Manding, Maya , Otomi and Taino languages share

pronouns:

 

Manding Taino Otomi Maya

 

Sing./Plural

 

n,m,na /n-te mi, m' nga, na in

 

e /i-te ti,t' i,e,ni ech

 

a /a-te li na,a a

 

 

This pattern of Amerind and African pronoun agreement is quite interesting. Greenberg (1987) has observed that Amerind languages are characterized by first-person n, and second person m. But in the case of Otomi and Maya, we find first person n, second person e/i, and third person a, the same pronoun pattern found in the Manding group. This shows considerable influence of the Manding /Olmec over the Maya, and the probable identification of the Otomi and Taino languages as genetically related to the Manding group.

 

OLMEC WRITING

 

The precursors of Amerindian civilization were Olmecs. The Olmecs were the first to construct grand ceremonial centers to sculpt bas-reliefs, and to carve hard stone and to invent writing.

The decipherment of the Olmec writing indicates that the Olmec spoke one of the Mande languages, closely related to the manding group. As among the ancient Manding of Dar Tichitt in Mauritania and along the Niger river, the Olmecs were mound builders. Ancient Mexican traditions say that some of their ancestors came from, a country across the sea, led by Amoxaque or Bookmen. The Mexican term Amoxaque , agrees with the Malinke-Bambara term A ma nkye , 'he [who] is a teacher'.

Olmec glyphs /inscriptions are frequently engraved on Olmec sculptures. There were two major styles of writing, a cursive and hieroglyphic Olmec script. The Olmec inscriptions are found both on bas reliefs and smaller pieces of Olmec works of art. Olmec symbols were also engraved on Olmec human figures.

The Olmec script is a syllabic writing system. The most famous Olmec inscriptions are the La Venta celts. In addition to writing inscriptions on celts and stelas the Olmec invented paper around 1000 B.C.

For more information on the ancient Manding writing see:

 

M. Delafosse, "Vai leur langue et leur systeme d'ecriture", L' Anthropologie 10, (1899).

 

C. A. Winters, "Manding writing in the New World Part 1", Journal of African Civilization, 1 (1), (1979) pp.81 97.

 

C.A. Winters, "Appendix B: The Jade Celts from La Venta". In Unexpected Faces in Ancient America, by A. von Wuthenau (pp.235 237). 2nd Edition, Mexico, 1980.

 

K. Hau, "Pre Islamic writing in West Africa", Bulletin de l'Institut Fondamental Afrique Noire (IFAN), t.35, Ser. B no. 1, (1973) pp.1 -45.

 

K. Hau, "African Writing in the New World", Bull. de l'IFAN,t.40 ser.B no.1, (1978) pp.28 -48.

 

C.A. Winters, "The influence of the Mande scripts on American ancient writing systems",Bull. de l'IFAN, t.39, Ser.B no.2, (1977) pp.405 -431.

 

C.A. Winters, "The Ancient manding Script". In , Blacks in Science Ancient and Modern (ed) by Ivan Van Sertima (pp.208 -214), New Brunswick, Transaction Books, 1983.

 

There is a clear prevalence of an African substratum for the origin of writing among the Maya. All the experts agree that the Olmec people probably gave writing to the Maya. Mayanist agree that the Brown (1991) found that the Proto Maya term for "write" is *c'ihb' or *c'ib'. Since the Olmec people probably spoke a Mande language, the Mayan term for writing would probably correspond to the Mande term for writing. A comparison of these terms confirmed this hypothesis. The Mayan term for writing *c'ib' or *c'ihb' is derived from the Olmec/Manding term for writing *se'be'. The ancient Mayans wrote their inscriptions in Chol, Yucatec and probably Quiche.

My comparison of Quiche and Yucatec to the Mande languages is a valid way to illustrate the ancient relationship between the Pre-Classic Maya and Mande speaking Olmec. Archaeologist and epigraphers no longer believe that the Classic Maya inscriptions were only written in Cholan Maya. Now scholars recognize that many Mayan inscriptions written during the Classic period were written in Yucatec and probably the language spoken in the area where the Mayan inscriptions are found. See:

1. R. J. Sharer," Diversity and Continuity in Maya civilization: Quirigua as a case study", in (Ed.) T. Patrick Culbert, Classic Maya Political History,( New York:Cambridge University Press, 1996)

p. 187. 2. N. Hammond, "Inside the black box:defining Maya polity". In (Ed.) T. Patrick Culbert, Classic Maya Political History, ( New York:Cambridge University Press, 1996) p.254. 3. J.S. Justeson, W. M. Norman, L. Campbell, & T.S. Kaufman, The Foreign impact on Lowland Mayan languages and Script. Middle American Research Institute, Publication 53. New Orleans: Tulane University, 1985.

This would also explain why the Maya, according to Landa had Universities where elites learned writing and other subjects. He noted that the Ahkin May or Ahuacan May (High Priest) "...and his disciples appointed the priests for the towns, examining them in their sciences and ceremonies...he provided their books and sent them forth. They in turn attended to the service of the temples, teaching their sciences and writing books upon them" (see: Friar Diego de Landa, Yucatan before and After the Conquest, (trs.) by William Gates, Dover Publications ,New York, 1978).

In conclusion, the evidence of malinke-Bambara loan words in the Mayan languages, and shared grammatical paradigms between Manding, Maya, and Otomi exhibit an intimate and prolonged early contact between the speakers of these languages. This contact is also proven by the decipherment of the Olmec inscriptions.

This evidence of Manding, Maya , Otomi and Taino pronominal agreement is striking because there is, as noted by Greenberg,Turner and Zegura (1986) "not a single authenticated borrowing of a first-or-second person pronoun". Thus the evidence of a: n,na,n' and e, i/a pronoun pattern clustered in Africa and the New World supports Greenberg's (1987) hypothesis of an African influence on the Amerind languages, and Wiener's (1922) view that the dominant ethnic group in developing American civilization was the Manding speaking people.

It is improbable to suggest that coincidence can account for the pronominal agreement between Manding Taino and Otomi for two reasons: (1) the accepted historical date for the meeting of the speakers of these languages is far too late to account for the grammatical affinities and corresponding terms found within these languages; and (2) borrowing is very rare from a culturally subordinate linguistic group (the African slaves) into a culturally dominant linguistic group (the Amer-indians), particularly in the basic vocabulary areas. This hypothesis is also supported by the fact that the Taino words were collected before Mande speaking slaves were taken to the Americas. The European slave traders moved from north to south in their recruitment of slaves. As a result, we find that up until the 1550's most African slaves taken to Spanish America came from areas above the Gambia river. Most of the earliest Mande speaking slaves did not begin arriving in the Americas until slaves began to be exported from the Gambian region of West Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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