Doyayo ~ Dooya̰a̰yɔ

Ulrich Kleinewillinghöfer, 2015

Doyayo (or Dooya̰a̰yɔ) is spoken by the Dowayo (or Doowaayɔ), the largest indigenous ethnic group within the Département de Faro. According to Wiering & Wiering (1994: 2). the Doowaayɔ themselves refer to their language as Doo²³ya̰a̰¹yɔ¹ ('man's mouth') or Doo²waa²³ya̰a̰¹yɔ¹ ('man's child's mouth') and to a person: Doo²waa²³yɔ¹ ('man's child'). (Wiering & Wiering differentiate four tone levels in Dooya̰a̰yɔ which they mark by superscript numbers ranging from 1 [high tone] to 4 [low lone]).
Older publications (e.g. Greenberg 1963) and their neighbours often refer to the Dowayo and their language as 'Namchi' (also Namshi, Namtchi, Namci, Namji), a term currently regarded as pejorative. According to Beaudelaire (1944) 'Namchi' formerly used to include the Duupa as well.

Dooya̰a̰yɔ is spoken in most of the villages in the north-western part of the "sous-préfecture de Poli, depuis Poli jusqu'au Faro" (Lars Lode 1992). Elisabeth & Marinus Wiering who studied the language between 1971 and 1981 in Poli, divide Dooya̰a̰yɔ into three distinct dialects (1994:1). These are: Markɛ spoken in the north-western plains, and two distinct varieties of Tɛ̰ɛ̰rɛ: Tɛ̰ɛ̰rɛ as spoken in Poli and surroundings, and Tɛ̰ɛ̰rɛ as spoken in the mountains to the south.
A threefold division of Dooya̰a̰yɔ is also reported by Lode (1992): "Il y a trois dialectes qui se comprennent sans trop de difficultés: le marké, le teere et la montagne vers Ninga et Bantadje."

Several sources cite in addition Sewe (or Séwé) as a dialect/variant of Dooya̰̰a̰yɔ, or (as in Greenberg 1963) Sewe is listed as a distinct language. These views bases most probably on Griaule 1941, who published in 1941, a wordlist from the 'Namtchi' of Poli and a wordlist from (the 'Namtchi' of) 'Séwé', which he collected in 1932. As Griaule's explicates "... les namtchi ont fourni un dialecte pour la région de Poli, un autre pour la région de Séwé, à une journée de marche au nord-ouest de la première" (1941:169). Based on his geographical description, Griaule's Séwé refers to the Dooya̰a̰yɔ dialect area of the north-western plains, as lined out in Wiering & Wiering (1994) and Lode (1992), and thus Sewe ought to be equated with the Markɛ variant/dialect of Dooya̰a̰yɔ.

Dooya̰a̰yɔ is comparatively better studied and documented. It has been reduced to writing; various booklets and a New Testament are published. A Dictionnaire Doyayo-Français (version provisoire) based on the Poli dialect, which has been compiled before 1994, was recently published (cf. Djataou 2012). The major descriptive publications are Wiering & Wiering 1994, a collection of articles on various topics. Data contained therein attracted the attention of other scholars, who reanalysed sections of the grammar (Elders (2004, Hewson 2008). The intriguing tone system of Dooya̰a̰yɔ, (the Wierings mark four tone levels, see above), is subject of a study by Jude (2012).

Dooya̰a̰yɔ apparently forms its own branch within the Samba-Duru language group; though there are more correspondences with the Vere-Gəmme branch than with either the Duru or the Samba branch. This tentative classification is based on the comparison of basic vocabularies, reinforced by results of a preliminary evaluation of morphosyntactical resemblances and differences, and a comparative study of negation patterns within the group (Kleinewillinghöfer & Littig 2012).

(Full text)

Dooya̰a̰yɔ 100-wordlist


Baudelaire, H. 1944. La numération de 1 à 10 dans les dialectes Habé de Garoua, Guider, Poli et Rey Bouba. Bulletin de la Société d'Études Camerounaises, 5: 23-30.

Djataou, Pascal. 2012. Dictionnaire Doyayo-Français. (Version provisoire). Ministère de la Recherche Scientifique et de l’Innovation / SIL; Yaoundé, Cameroun.

Elders, Stefan. 2004. Distributed Predicative Syntax in Doyayo: Constituent order alternations and cliticization. In: Akinlabi, Akinbiyi & Oluseye Adesola (eds.) Proceedings of the 4th World Congress of African Linguistics, New Brunswick 2003. Köln: Köppe; 189-197.

Greenberg, Joseph H. 1963. The Languages of Africa. The Hague: Mouton.

Griaule, Marcel. 1941. Vocabulaires papé, woko, koutinn, namtchi et séwé du Cameroun septentrional. Journal de la Société des Africanistes, 11: 169-185.

Hewson, John. n.d. Chapter 8. Doyayo. In: Derek Nurse, Sarah Rose & John Hewson (with collaboration from Christa Beaudoin-Lietz). (eds.) Verbal Categories in Niger-Congo Languages. [This online publication has no date. Jude 2012 quotes it as a manuscript as Hewson 2007].

Jude, Nformi Awasom. 2012. A Register Tier Theory Account of Tone in the Nominal System of Doyayo. Unpublished M.A. Thesis, Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, University of Buea.

Kleinewillinghöfer, Ulrich & Sabine Littig. 2012. 'Negation patterns in Sama-Duru languages.' Paper presented to the 7th World Congress of African Linguistics (WOCAL 7), Buea, August 20-24, 2012.

Lode, Lars. 1992. Aperçu des langues parlées dans le département de Faro. Poli: multi-copied.

Wiering, Elisabeth & Marinus Wiering. 1994. The Doyayo Language. Selected Studies. Dallas: SIL.

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