Annotated Swadesh wordlists for the Fula-Serer group (North Atlantic family).

Languages included: Serer [fse-ser].



Crétois 1972: Léonce Crétois. Dictionnaire Sereer-Français. Dakar: Centre de Linguistique Appliquée de Dakar. 6 vols., 1972-1977. // A huge, exhaustive dictionary of the Serer language, complete with numerous syntactic contexts, a phonetic and grammatical sketch, and information on dialectal variants (unfortunately, not very systematic).

Ezanno & Greffier 1960: H. Greffier (d'après le manuscrit du Père Ezanno, S. Sp.). Dictionnaire français-sérère, précédé d'un abrégé de la grammaire sérère. Saint-Joseph de Ngasobil (Sénégal): Mission de la Congrégation du Saint Esprit et du Saint-Coeur de Marie. // An older dictionary of Serer, much more concise than Crétois 1972 and nowhere near as phonetically accurate, but useful as a secondary control source for lexical data.


1. General.


The default source of reference for the Serer language of Senegal is the enormous dictionary by L. Crétois. Unfortunately, despite containing a lot of information on the various dialects of the language, it cannot serve as a reliable source for dialectal lexicostatistics of the language; the current wordlist relies primarily on the "prestige" dialect of Serer (Serer-Sine), although some dialectal variants are occasionally adduced. In any case, judging from what could be deduced from the dictionary, it does not look as if the lexicostatistical variation between dialects could be significant.

As a control source, we also utilize the older dictionary [Ezanno & Greffier 1960], more condensed than Crétois' dictionary and useful in determining the primary basic lexical equivalent. However, Greffier's dictionary seems to be highly inaccurate in its treatment of Serer phonetics, with numerous discrepancies between him and Crétois on the issue of vowel length and vowel quality; Ezanno and Greffier also do not distinguish between plain voiced and implosive consonants.

Serer is a language with nominal classes and a complex system of consonantal gradation (typical of Atlantic languages). For possible needs of external comparison and reconstruction, we list class-related information for nouns in the notes section, indicating the class by listing the corresponding form of the correlated class pronoun rather than the class number (e. g. ol-class means Class III, where the definite form of the word is formed with the pronoun ol-e: ɓay 'hand' - o ɓay ol-e 'the (this) hand', etc.). Nouns are generally given in the singular number; plural forms are particularly important where they differ from singular forms through consonantal gradation, but are listed always, regardless of whether the initial consonant is "mutated" or stays the same.

Verbs are generally given as roots (taken directly from the main entry in Crétois' dictionary); adjectives, almost always derived from verbs, are also given as verbal roots, although sometimes the dictionary lists specific adjectival derivates (usually with the suffix -u), in which case they are selected for the main entry.

2. Transcription.


We preserve the transcriptional system used in [Crétois 1972] almost intact, with the following miminal changes: (a) long vowels, transcribed as digraphs (aa, ee, etc.), are converted to regular UTS , , etc.; (b) palatal affricates c, j, y‘ are transcribed as ɕ, ʓ, ʄ respectively; (c) palatal nasal is transcribed as ɲ.

The alphabet in [Ezanno & Greffier 1960] is a little more idiosyncratic: (1) Length is transcribed with a circumflex (â, ê, etc.) and is converted to regular UTS , , etc.; (2) Palatal affricates are marked as , respectively, and are converted to ɕ, ʓ; (3) Velar nasal is either marked as or as g with nasalization of the preceding vowel (e. g. lãg = laŋ); (4) Ezanno & Greffier distinguish between closed and open , although external data show that this distinction is probably not phonemic. Just in case, we preserve this orthographic convention, converting Ezanno's to ɛ and his to e. It should also be remembered that Ezanno & Greffier do not distinguish between voiced and implosive articulation, so any of their b, d, ʓ might actually be ɓ, ɗ, ʄ (only comparison with the dictionary of Crétois helps determine the correct variant).

Database compiled and annotated by: G. Starostin (February 2015).