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First documented revitalization of the Baga Pukur language in Guinea

Étienne Millet (CC BY NC SA)

The "First documented revitalization of the Baga Pukur language in Guinea" project is dedicated to promoting the vitality of Baga Pukur, an endangered Atlantic language from the coastal region of Guinea. Baga Pukur, a language native to two villages called Binari and M'Bottiny, ceased to be passed on to younger generations some twenty years ago, in favor of Sousou (the Mande language).

The aim of this project was to respond in the most useful way possible to a request from members of the Baga Pukur community, concerned about the disappearance of their language. To this end, it was intended to embrace a dynamic already at work, namely children's interest in their parents' language, clearly aroused by the Baga Pukur documentation project led by Neige Rochant since 2019. Given that young adult parents of young children are still speakers of Baga Pukur, the idea arose to produce a resource that would encourage the transmission of Baga Pukur to children through this curiosity: an interactive imagier intended for the direct use of young children in the early stages of literacy, who would learn words from the basic Baga Pukur lexicon by having fun deciphering the labels (e. g. "five cows", "five goats", "four sheep", etc.) to be placed on the images they illustrate, and guessing their meanings thanks to the logic of commutativity and the help of adult speakers.

This activity was designed to feed their curiosity about the Baga Pukur language and, in so doing, encourage their parents to satisfy it by answering the questions the game would raise in them, leading to their learning and speaking Baga Pukur. A documentary on the situation of the Baga pukur language was also planned, with the aim of highlighting the Labex's scientific activities and promoting the Baga pukur language.

The first part of the project was completed in January 2023. The interactive imagier, designed and illustrated by Neige Rochant with the collaboration of Baga Pukur-speaking consultants Yaya Trésor Bangoura, Ibrahima Coza Bangoura and Harouna Bangoura, and Guinean graphic designer Francis Phalazar Loua, was printed in France in 150 copies on fabric and assembled in the workshop of Conakry tailor Mr. Fofana Diakaria. The imagier was presented and distributed in January 2023 during workshops organized by the baga pukur community. A documentary on the baga pukur was produced at the same time, in collaboration with director Étienne Millet, and is currently being edited.


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