Documenting the Bayot language (a West-African language of the Joola group)

The Endangered Language Documentation Programme (ELDP) provides grants worldwide to for the linguistic documentation of endangered language and knowledge. Grantees create multimedia collection of endangered languages. These collections are preserved and made freely available through the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) housed at the library of SOAS University of London.

Bayot is a Niger-Congo, West-Atlantic, Bak language of the Joola sub-group. This language is spoken in a Senegalese South-West zone that covers the prefecture of Nyassia, and mainly comprises three dialects: Ehin, Kugere, and Njambalaan. Nevertheless, according to my informants, speech differs from one village to another.From the post colonial era until today, the Bayot people, a minority ethnic group, have been living under the threat of insecurity due to wars between kingdoms, slave trade, and, presently, the Casamance rebellion. This last calamity has caused disintegration of the Bayot villages (there are at least 15 villages), scattering the Bayot language speakers in foreign areas where they communicate using other languages. In fact, they see the use of other languages as a safety strategy.This situation has considerably reduced the number of language users so that Bayot is an endangered language that needs a scientific description and resource building for language maintenance and the development of literacy.Aims:
  • A doctoral dissertation to be defended at INALCO (Paris, France), consisting of a French monograph of phonological, morphological and morpho-syntactical description of the Bayot language
  • A multilingual dictionary of 5000 items
  • A spelling book for adult literacy
  • Audiovisual materials: a video cassette of linguistic and cultural features of the speech community and, at least five tapes of oral texts.
Primary investigator: Mbacke Diagne

Project Details


Location: Senegal Organiser(s): Endangered Languages Documentation Programme Project partner(s): CNRS - Langage, langues et cultures d'Afrique noire (LLACAN - UMR 8135), Paris Villejuif Funder(s): Arcadia Funding received: £19,400.00 Commencement Date: 01/2000
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