Mbre (Pere, Bere) language

This language is known in the linguistic literature as Pere (Pɛrɛ), Bere, and Mbre. It is an enclave entirely surrounded by Koro-speaking villages, in central Côte d’Ivoire.

Glottolog currently (October 2017) spells the language name as Mbre (with synonyms including Bere, Bre, Pre, and PrePisia). The Glottocode is mbre1244, the ISO-639-3 cpde is mka. The forms beginning with b are based on bɛ̀rɛ́, the exonym used by Koro speakers to refer to the people who speak Mbre. The endonym used when speaking Mbre, at least to refer to the ethnicity, is pɛ̀rɛ́. “PrePisia” is a compound including a term for ‘language’.

Glottolog includes Mbre under the rubric “unclassified Volta-Congo”, a wastebasket category that also includes (among others) the extinct language Mpra (~ Mpre) of Ghana for which fragmentary lexical data are recorded. On Mpra see the comments by Blench:


No-one has suggested any genetic connection between Mbre and Mpra. Blench discounts any such relationship:

“Mpra may either be a Niger-Congo isolate branch like the similarly named but unrelated Mbre language in Cote d’Ivoire or it may be an isolate language, such as Bangi Me in Mali. It is probably impossible to decide between these alternatives on the limited data available.” (p. 6)

He goes on to question, as a methodological point, whether it is useful to assign languages to peripheral status within high-level families like Niger-Congo on the basis of a few apparent cognates, and leaves open the possibility that Mpra, and by implication Mbre, are best considered isolates.

Mbre is currently (2017) being investigated by Ivoirean graduate student Brahima Tioté, with financial support from my grants. My new (as of 2017) grant from National Endowment for the Humanities is specifically for Mbre and for one of the Tiefo languages of SW Burkina Faso. I expect to spend several months working on Mbre in collaboration with Tioté beginning in summer 2018.

For now, documents relevant to Mbre will be made available by a link on the home page of the Dogon project website, www.dogonlanguages.org


[last update Nov 2017]

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