Oral tradition versus linguistic evidence: the Babur-Bura case revisited

  • In a previous study which originally tackled the apparent contradiction between oral tradition and linguistic evidence in the Babur-Bura case, we approached the issue through a contrastive analysis of Bura and Kanuri. Since the originstory tends to push the Babur towards the Kanuri, leaving the Bura to stand all alone, it was felt that any linguistic closeness between Kanuri and Babur would confirm the originstory. Unfortunately, the paper did not come up with such evidence. The paper in question summarizes COHEN's (1983) account and interpretation of both the Babur and the Bura versions of their origin. It then presents the loopholes in the various accounts, based not only on the current linguistic classification of the area, but also on the results of an investigation carried out within the framework of the "Borno Surname Project". At both the phonological and syntactic levels, BADEJO (1989) observes that in view of certain fundamental differences between Kanuri on the one hand and Babur-Bura on the other, Babur affiliation with Kanuri is doubtful. Such differences include: the lack of voice distinction between the labiodental fricatives in Kanuri (i.e. /f/ and /v/; the /p/ - /f/ alternation), especially in wordinitial position in Kanuri, and finally, the SOV structure of the Kanuri sentence. The paper, drawing on support from an opinion survey, therefore concludes that "general linguistic and the social linguistic considerations presented ... seem to point to the fact that the Babur and the Bura are, by and large, the same people". The paper, however, recognizes the need for a Babur-Bura contrastive study. The current paper is the first step in that direction.

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Author:B. Rotimi Badejo
Parent Title (German):Berichte des Sonderforschungsbereichs 268
Series (Serial Number):Berichte des Sonderforschungsbereichs 268 (08, 013)
Publisher:SFB 268
Place of publication:Frankfurt, M.
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2006/12/13
Year of first Publication:1996
Publishing Institution:Universit├Ątsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2006/12/13
Page Number:4
First Page:13
Last Page:16
Institutes:Zentrale Einrichtung / SFB 268
Dewey Decimal Classification:9 Geschichte und Geografie / 96 Geschichte Afrikas / 960 Geschichte Afrikas
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht