By G. Tucker Childs
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Pol 'light' /o/vs. /"/: ko 'to' vs. k~ 'go' t6n 'few' vs. t5n 'bathe' /"/ vs. /a/: c6l 'night' vs. cal 'sit' t6n 'bathe' vs. tan 'rise' Generally speaking, the two highest vowels, front and back, are likely to be confused with each other because of their proximity in the acoustico-perceptual space. 11 Both (/e/ and /o/) are closer than their cardinal counterparts and were often confused with /if and lui. Another source of confusion arises when the (non-low) peripheral vowels are heard before codas filled with sonorants, particularly before nasals.
The causes were many. One problem was certainly that the language of enquiry, for the most part, was Soso, the language the Mani people had shifted to. When it was not Soso, it was French, the language of schools, the government, and the former colonial power. Few speakers were fluent speakers of French. , substituting a related form for the "correct" one, using a Soso word, inconsistencies in grammar, inconsistencies from one question to another, and considerable cross-speaker (and even intra-speaker) differences (stimulus sentences came from Bouquiaux and Thomas 1987).
The kingdom's demise was likely more gradual. Contributing to the effects of the Temne attacks on the southern flank of the Samu kingdom was the more pacific but no less linguistically devastating advent of the Soso, who were themselves pushed into the Samu by the Fulbe in the 18th century. Several jihads expedited the process of the Mani acculturation to the Soso and their conversion to Islam. Forcible conversion to Islam came later in the l~h century at the hands of the "Tourelakai", warring Muslim Malinke on jihad (Diallo 1974:3 7).