Work Description

Title: Lexical documents Tiefo-N language of Burkina Faso Open Access Deposited
Attribute Value
  • Regular lexical elicitation of the Tiefo-N language generated during a larger linguistic fieldwork project. The presentation separates nouns, adjectives, numerals, “other,” verbs and places (toponyms) to permit customized formats for each category.
  • Our project, mainly on Dogon languages of Mali, has branched out to Burkina Faso with emphasis on documentation of the most endangered languages. Tiefo-N was studied on an emergency basis since it was down to two aging competent speakers. For additional comments and links to a reference grammar, see the readme file.
Contact information
Funding agency
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
ORSP grant number
  • multiple
Citations to related material
Resource type
Last modified
  • 01/20/2020
  • 03/19/2019
To Cite this Work:
Heath, J., Ouattara, A., Hantgan, A. (2019). Lexical documents Tiefo-N language of Burkina Faso [Data set]. University of Michigan - Deep Blue.


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README FILE FOR Tiefo-N lexicon

Tiefo, pronounced [cɛ̀fɔ́], is a linguistic group in southwestern Burkina Faso, of which two varieties are extant. We call these Tiefo-N, the Tiefo of Nyafogo and (until recently) Noumoudara villages, and Tiefo-D, the Tiefo of Daramandougou (an internally diverse and spread-out village cluster). The two are mutually unintelligible and the two populations have had little contact for at least several decades. Tiefo as an ethnicity spreads over a much wider area, both above the cliffs (on the plateau between Bobo Dioulasso and Banfora) and below the cliffs to the east. The Tiefo languages are thought to be peripheral members of the Gur language sub-family of Niger-Congo, or else broadly Niger-Congo with no specific (sub-)family affiliation.

Tiefo-D is still spoken by numerous people, but Tiefo-N has been down to two more or less fluent speakers, both in Nyafogo, since our work began around 2013. Our project, including Heath, A. Hantgan, and A. Ouattara (an ethnic Tiefo and a grad student in Ouagadougou), has carried out salvage fieldwork on Tiefo-N of Nyafogo. The main product of this work is “A short grammar of Tiefo-N of Nyafogo” by Heath, Ouattara, and Hantgan, published electronically in 2017 at Language Description Heritage library with a backup copy at deepblue.

The lexical material is presented here in two formats. Both versions separate nouns, adjectives, numerals, “other,” and places (toponyms). One version is a docx and pdf document. The other in an xlsx spreadsheet consisting of six worksheets, and six corresponding csv spreadsheets. The column structure of the xlsx/csv spreadsheets, by stem-class category, is as follows. The docx/pdf version is similar but has fixed alphabetical ordering within each category.

“noun \\ plural (class)”: form of noun, in some cases with a plural shown after \\, in some cases with class marker (precedes the noun) è à or ò (explained in grammar)
“English”, “French”, “comment 1”, “comment 2” self-explanatory

“headword”: this is taken from one or another of the following columns and is intended to permit alphabetical sorting
“Hum/O”, “A”, and “E” are modifying (postnominal) adjectival forms corresponding to the three major noun classes O, A, and E (with humans treated as O), for those adjectives that make class distinctions. Some adjectives have only one form, shown in the Hum/O column.
“predicate” and “predicate neg” are adjectival predicative forms, e.g. ‘be good/long’ and ‘not be good/long’
“English”, “French”, and three “comment/example” columns are self-explanatory

NUMERALS (left column groups are num[eral], num dec (decimal), num high (hundred, etc.), and ord[inal)
“numeral”, “English”, “French”, “comment” are self-explanatory

“group” subcategorizes these forms as adv[verb] subclassified as manner, space, or time; comparative, coordinand, dem[onstrative], discourse (marker), greeting, interrog[ative], neg[ative], ordinal, postp[osition], pred[icate marker], pron[oun], quant[ifier[, subord[inator]

“imperfective”, “perfective”, “English”, “French”, “comment 1”, “comment/example 2”
Verbs in Tiefo-N have two forms, imperfective and perfective, versus three for Tiefo-D. The distribution of the two forms is described in the grammar.

names of villages. In the case of the village Me, there is also a special form for an inhabitant of the village. In the official village names, “ou” is French for “u”.

In a few cases a form or an example specifies the linguist who recorded it (JH or AH). Heath is finally responsible for the transcriptions and glosses.


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