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Sent: Friday, May 09, 2008 12:27 AM In response to Barbara Hoffman's response to Ralph Austen > In response to Ralph: we are not the scholars responsible for > determining > whether le francais gets called French or Francais in English; we do, > however, have something to say about which terms get applied to the > Bamana > and Maninka people and languages, assuming anyone pays attention to us, > of > course... This raises the question for me to what extent the alternative formulation - Bambara - passed into English from French via perhaps Fula is established enough in the English language to retain. Are we rewriting a significant amount of material when we change usage? In other words, for a group which doesn't have an appelation in English, obviously it would make sense to use their endonym. On the other extreme, insisting on using "Français" (or "Francais") instead of "French" would cause a lot of confusion and rewriting. Bambara/Bamanan seems somewhere in the middle ground. Another case that caught my eye a few years ago is Chinese names for some African groups which are transliterations of the European names, and apparently relatively recent. Bambara/Bamanan is conveyed by two characters that read "ban-para" (this is from memory but I believe is accurate). Fula/Fulani are "po-er" (written in two different ways I saw), clearly from the French who got it from the Wolof. I think a stronger case could be made for revamping the relatively younger Chinese lexicon of African peoples to include more transliterations of endonyms where possible. Endonyms seem to me to present complications sometimes for adaptation from the language of origin into another. The use of "Fulbe" (from "Fulɓe") for the group known also as Fulani or Fula, introduces a human plural form that, then in English is applied in all positions. The result seems far from appropriate when you get constructions like "Fulbe woman" (in the language itself, it would be "Pullo debbo" - pullo being the singular form, and debbo meaning woman). A similar problem would arise in the example of Francais for French - "Francais woman" or "Francais women" (for femme française or femmes françaises). My point is that this sort of deformation may in fact be quite common when attempting to import an endonym into English, Chinese, or whatever language. The case of "Bamanan," at least, seems less inconvenient in this regard since number or noun class/gender are not an issue. But it may be that no matter how authentic one tries to be in adopting endonyms, there will always be some sort of deformation of the term of origin used in another tongue, so you end up almost in the same place as you were with the foreign term. So, what are the costs and benefits of changing to endonyms?