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No Affiliation Provided <email@example.com> Quick replies about (1) Fulfulde/Pulaar, (2) "Fulbe," and (3) use of orthographies for African languages: 1) Ralph Austen and Martin Klein point out the dialect differences in Fulfulde/Pulaar. My impression though is that specialists on the language would not attach too much linguistic significance to those names. Pulaar in Senegal and Fulfulde in Mali are closer than the former is to Pular in Guinea or latter is to Fulfulde in Cameroon. It's another example of what I've been calling the "tomayto/tomahto" effect - variations in names of languages appear from outside to define significant differences when in fact they may not at all be a good guide to similarities and differences. (There are abundant examples in Africa and the rest of the world for that matter.) 2) I would like to follow up with further thoughts on issues of what in English to call the people who call themselves Fule (or Fulbhe). I see several problems adapting the "autonym" in the Anglicized form of "Fulbe," and advantages in a solution closer to what David Arnott proposed several decades ago - refering to the people as "Fulani" and the language as "Fula." Problems I see in adapting Fulɓe as "Fulbe" in English include: a) Linguistic context is stripped away: Fulɓe is a noun in the plural class for people, but in English construction the loan is used in all roles - singular noun, adjective, etc. Martin Klein pointed ou the issue of what to call a single person if you use Fulbe as the collective. In Fula (Fulfulde/Pulaar) it would be Pullo, but can one really impose this in English? This is just one problem. b) Cultural context is stripped away: Within the larger Fula culture (pulaaku) and society there are subgroups, such that while on one level all might be called "Fulɓe," on another level, only some are. The new English usage of "Fulbe" seems just as much an external category as "Fula" or "Fulani" in English (or "peul" in French) but with the pretense of authenticity. In other words something is lost in the borrowing and nothing really gained. (Another example of maladaptation of a term into English is in South Africa where the term Sepedi was used for a language in the Sotho/Tswana group. It was seen as authentic, but in fact referred to a more documented dialect within in Sesotho sa Leboa - or what is also referred to in English as Northern Sotho.) c) The terms "Fula" and "Fulani" exist in English. They also seem to be commonly used in English in Africa, as far as I can tell d) Adding Fulbe to the repertoire of terms already used to describe the people may actually complicate more than facilitate understanding for learners and other non-experts. (More "tomayto/tomahto" disambiguations needed.) e) The Anglophone reader encountering "Fulbe" for the first time has no indication of pronunciation. You can imagine (and perhaps have heard) the potential misreadings. 3) With regard to the issue of orthographies, I think it is an oversimplification, and indeed in many cases an error to say that no one is using the "official" orthographies for African languages. Certainly for Pulaar in Senegal, there is some significant use of the orthography (e.g., publications by ARED, many of which come from Fulaphone Senegalese). Adult literacy classes, and now increasingly some new first-language/bilingual primary education programs use. It is true that governments have not placed much emphasis on first-language literacy, and often none at all in formal schooling. In addition, language policies, including standards of orthography, are not given much official support. So it is also true that people who go through English-only or French-only schooling may not be comfortable with an orthography that they were never taught (to quote just one person on this subject - Philip Emeagwali in a speech he made in 2004: "I was taught to write in a new language. As a result, I became literate in English but remain illiterate in Igbo - my native tongue."). This is an issue of language and education policies. Nevertheless, where there are standards, efforts have been made to develop them, and there are people who do use them. To ignore these standards, especially now as they are getting to the point of being able to implement them more extensively in information technology, would be a disservice. I was recently in South Africa for a workshop on localizing software and content in African languages. Two of the participants were Senegalese and had been working separately on translating different software into Wolof. This work - no less than writing a book - depends on a common orthography, which happily exists. One of the projects, ANAFA, has also been working on computer literacy in Wolof - another area relying on standard orthography. (BTW, they are coordinating their efforts now; I should also mention in passing that the Wolof Wikipedia is beginning to get more attention too.) This may seem far from deciding what orthography to use in citing a word from a language in a scholarly paper, but in the end it seems like a question of principle. The level of attention scholars pay to such issues seems to me not to be neutral - it sends a message of support or of dismissal; it respects the standard such as it is, or it says the standard is not worth the bother. I'm painting this in somewhat simple terms. I do recognize that there are various issues surrounding the various orthographies (part of the rationale for N'Ko for Manding languages is that the Latin script is not adapted to the language). But ultimately any writing system that is reasonably well conceived and consistently used is of more value than either pursuit of an unattainable perfection (some orthographies such as for Bambara have been revised several times to improve them) or a return to the old days when African languages were written according to whatever transcription matched the author's experience or imagination.