We present here the results of the work on the Bongili-French dictionary that was developed by our team. This dictionary already contains about 1,700 entries and ends with a French-Bongili index. This reference document is the result of a language preservation project whose main objective is to work for the promotion and preservation of the Bongili language spoken in the Sangha department in the Republic of Congo.
There are some research articles that preceded this dictionary project. Molé Epola (2013), presented a work on the nominal classes of this language, including a phonological sketch. The author pointed out in his dissertation that the Bongili language he studied (the one on which we also did this dictionary work) is the variety with the most speakers and is therefore the reference variety (Molé Epola, 2013, p. 2). Alongside this work on nominal classes, we should mention the same author's research on verbal modalities of tense-aspects-modes (Molé Epola, 2022).
But other varieties of the same language have also seen some research. Thus, Motingea Mangulu (2008) studied the Boshéndé variety. He analyzed the phonetics, phonology and the class and agreement system. Titih studied the phonology of Bokiba, another variety (Titih, 1994).
However, it is important to point out here that Bongili, with its five varieties, is one of the Congolese languages whose intercomprehension between speakers of different varieties is close to one hundred percent (100%). This is why the choice of this language for the elaboration of this dictionary, which will be used by all speakers of all varieties of Bongili, seems judicious.
We have encountered some difficulties in the elaboration of this dictionary:
- The problem of linguistic variations and changes. The Bongili language has evolved and been influenced by neighboring languages, especially Lingala (the national language) and French (the official language). Thus, within Bongili, there are two forms of "language" if you want to call them that. The language of the young people is moving away more and more from that of the elders, which is the most authentic form. This makes it difficult to make choices for reasons of harmony.
- The transcription of sentences in Bongili poses a problem, especially since there are too many elisions in the spoken chain, which makes it difficult to opt for a transcription of sentences with elisions.
- It was difficult to find the gloss of some words. For this reason, for some entries we find the definition or the explanation instead of the gloss.
It is true that the work we are presenting here is far from being exhaustive, but we believe it has reached a stage where we can already put a preliminary version online. As we do so, we plan to continue to refine it.
We received help from some of the speakers who served as informants (Pascal Ingongo, Gaston Epola, Michel Molé Epola, Charles Amandayini, Corneille Mbandzamoki, Justine Eouaboto, Chisso Mariane, Sarah Henriette), and from the software technicians who came to our aid whenever the need arose. May they find here the expression of our gratitude.
The Editorial Team
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)