Lingustic resistance (part II)

3. The Murid speech community
 A Speech community is defined as a group of people who shares a set of norms and rules for the use of language (Romaine, 1994: 23). This definition provides an adequate framework for the description of the Murid speech community since all Murids (whether located in Senegal or abroad) share a set of religious, social and linguistic norms and rules for the use of language. As a matter of fact, the Murid speech community is defined and united through religious beliefs and the use of particular linguistic forms to express Murid beliefs and culture. In this respect Murids form a theological speech community in which linguistic variables (linguistic forms used in Murid discourse) correlate with their religious beliefs. This correlation between linguistic forms and religious variables in Murid speech community represents a unifying factor of Murids in the world and sets them apart from local linguistic varieties and other religious groups in Senegal. Three main variabilities of language in social contexts are generally discussed in the linguistic and sociolinguistic literature: dialectal (geographical), sociolectal (social) and ideolectal (individual). However, to my knowledge, such a specific social variation of language conditioned by religious beliefs, as is the case in Muridism has not been fully investigated or dealt with in details in mainstream linguistic or sociolinguistic research. Given that no specific term has been devised to refer to such instances of religious based usage of language in social context, the construct theolectal variability of language seems appropriate to represent such sociolinguistic phenomena. In this respect, the concept of theolectal variability of language is construed as a subset of the sociolectal variability of language.
Sheikh Ahmadu Bamba was said to have never pronounced a French word, communicated with his followers in pure academic Wolof, and used classical Arabic only as an instrument of work (Babou, 1999:6). Thus, it can be theorized that the theolectal variability of Murid Wolof as observed today was not attested in the lifetime of the founder of the brotherhood. Such language loyalty is evidence of Bamba’s attachment to African values and suggests that Arabic linguistic patterns in Murid discourse today were not common in the Murid speech community. It can be hypothesized that, due to Bamba’s extensive writings in Arabic, most commonly used classical Arabic linguistic structures have been naturalized into Wolof and are used in present Murid discourse as a symbol of Murid faith and remembrance of Bamba’s teachings. These forms have ultimately become idiosyncratic patterns of the Murid speech community due to their frequent use in Murid discourse. Today, Murids speak Wolof (the lingua franca of the country spoken by over 85 % of the Senegalese population). However, Murids’ Wolof is characterized by a high rate of lexical borrowings from Arabic and the coining of new Wolof words and phrases. The minimal use of French words in Murid discourse today in general (in comparison to non-Murids) is evidence of the Murid’s ongoing rejection of the French language and culture in all its forms. This theolinguistic variability of Murid discourse sets Murids apart from other Islamic groups in Senegal. Thus Murids form a theolect (a social group based upon spiritual belief and use of language) which is equated with identity, ideology, religious and cultural pride; hence an anti-imperialist means of resistance. The following linguistic items show how language has been used as a means of assertion of Murid sub-Saharan Muslim faith, African pride and identity against the French colonial authority.
A. Arabic borrowings in the Murid speech community
In the Murid theolect today the following words are perfectly incorporated into Wolof in that they have undergone linguistic adaptation processes to fit the Wolof linguistic system of Murids. However, it is important to note that although there are other Islamic brotherhoods in Senegal (Tijaans, Niaseen, Xaadr, Laayen), these Arabic Words (with the exception of the word [murid]) are exclusively used by Murids, and thus represent indices of identification of a Murid.
Murid Arabic loans        �                      �Non-Murid equivalents
(a) [murid] from Arabic [murid] (a being heading to God)
[murid] non-Murids use the same word as the Murids.
(b)[xaadimurrasuul] from Arabic [xaadimu?al.rasuul] (the servant of the prophet Mohamed) used to refer to Sheikh Ahmadu Bamba.
[s«riøtuuba] from Wolof (the religious or spiritual teacher of Touba)
(c) [saajiir] from Arabic [Daahir] (visible      world) used to refer to this world. �
[aduna] from Arabic [aldunja] (the world) or [fii] from Wolof (‘here’ which implies ‘in this world’)
(d) [baatiin] Arabic [baatiin] (invisible   world) used to refer to the spiritual world.
[alaaxira] from Arabic [al?aaxira] (the after-life)
 (e) [akasa] from Arabic [haakaDa]   (therefore or this is how..) used to mean ‘thanks’ or ‘that’s right’.
[ï«r«ï«f] from Wolof (thank you)
(f) [adija] from Arabic [hadijja]          (present or gift) used to refer to a specific gift that one gives to his religious leader.
[maj] from Wolof (gift)
or [s«ric«] from Wolof (a gift that a guest gives to a host) or
[sarax] from Arabic [saddaqa] (charity)
(g) [baabulmuridiina] from Arabic [baabulmuridiina] (the door of Muridism) used to refer to Ibrahima Fall, the most prominent disciple of Bamba.
No equivalent: non-Murids generally use the name of ‘Ibrahima Fall’ or ‘Ibra Fall’ to refer to him.
(h) [riïaal] from Arabic [riïaal] (men) used to refer to a category of Murid disciples followers of Ibrahima Fall.
No equivalent: non-Murids generally use the generic term of [murid] or [baajfaal] to refer to any of the members of the brotherhood.
Although Arabic lexical borrowings are common in the daily life of the Senegalese people regardless of their religious stance (due to the fact that over 85% are Muslim), the use of the Arabic words above (with the exception of the word ‘murid’) is specific to the Murid community. While the examples of Arabic loanwords in (a), (b), (c) and (d) have maintained their original Arabic meaning, those in (e), (f), (g) and (h) have undergone some semantic changes. The linguistic form [akasa] is now used in the Murid discourse to mean ‘thanks’ or ‘that’s right’ and is a sign of approval of a point in a discussion in opposition to its original meaning in Arabic where it is used as ‘therefore’ or the phrase ‘this is how…’. As for [adiya] in example (f), unlike in Arabic where it is used to refer to a gift of any kind given to someone, the word specifically refers to a present given to a religious leader in the Murid theolect. Interestingly, even non-Murids who speak Arabic generally use the non-Murid Wolof equivalents, since the use of such Arabic loans (with their specific meanings) marks one as a member of the Murid brotherhood. With respect to examples (g) and (h), both have undergone some kind of semantic change since the term [baabulmuridiina] (Arabic: the door of Muridism) is specifically used in the brotherhood to refer to a person (Ibrahima Fall), and [riïaal] (Arabic: men) is used to refer to a particular group of Murid disciples.
Besides these semantic shifts, some phonological rules are involved in the adaptation and integration of these Arabic lexical units into the Wolof system as in examples (c), (e) and (f). In (c) the Arabic voiced dental fricative consonant [D] is replaced by the Wolof alveolar consonant [s] due to the fact that Wolof does not have [D]. Two rules are involved in (e). Given that the glottal fricative [h] and [D] do not occur in the Wolof phonological system. The former is deleted while the latter is replaced by the closest Wolof sound, the alveolar fricative [s]. It is important to note that, although these Arabic loanwords may be specific to the Murids, their phonological adaptation processes are shared by the entire speech community, regardless of speakers’ religious stance. This is due to the fact that these adaptation processes are triggered by the Wolof language, the major lingua franca of both Murids and non-Murids in Senegal.
Although lexical borrowings from Arabic in the country are generally found in the religious register (in formal and informal situations), these Arabic loans are used in religious and non-religious situations in the Murid community. Although instances of code switching Wolof/Arabic are characteristic of Murid intellectuals who are bilinguals in Wolof and Arabic, lexical borrowings are used by members of all social classes or social groups regardless of their level of education in the Murid community. Consequently, it can be argued that these Arabic loanwords and phrases in Murid speech form a set of linguistic variables which correlate with a social variable (religious stance in this case) (Labov, 1978:45), since the use of these lexical and phrasal borrowings represents patterns of identification of members of the Murid theolect.
B. Wolof linguistic innovations in the Murid community
Besides Arabic borrowings examined above, the Murid community is also unique in the way it coins Wolof words. The following examples show the most common linguistic innovations in Wolof found in the Murid community today.


        Murid innovations                                                      Non-Murid equivalents

(a) [ïamm-agxeewl]   (peace and blessing) used when saying good-bye.«
[ba-beneen-joon] (Wolof: see you next time) or [ïamm-agïamm] (leave in peace and see you next in peace)
(b) [ndimb«l-ag-j«rm«nde] (help and mercy) used when closing a prayer or saying good-bye.
Although the words exist in Wolof, no exact equivalent structure is attested in nonMurid speech. A Structure such as [jal-na-jalla-dimb«lete-jm-nu] (may good help and have mercy on us) is generally used in similar situations. �«r«
(c) [ï«f-ï«l] (do and take),  �(one reaps what one sows), related to the philosophy of work
Although the two words exist in Wolof, the structure is not attested in non-Murid speech as it relates to a specific Murid tenet, which only few non-Murids understand.
(d) [baaj-faal] (disciple of Ibrahima Fall)
[baaj-faal] borrowed and used as the Murids
(e) [magal] (yearly celebration of Bamba’s deportation day)
[gammo] (Wolof: yearly celebration Mohamed’s birth).
(f) [ndig«l] (a specific spiritual order or command from the spiritual leader)
[ndig«l] (Wolof: a generic term for any kind of command or order)
(g) [maxtumbe] (a pocket made of leather used to keep spiritual poems).
[nafa] (Wolof: a generic term for any type of pocket)
(h) [goor-jalla] (the equivalent of [baaj-faal] used to refer to Ibrahima Fall’s disciples)
[baaj-faal] (Wolof: a disciple of Ibrahima Fall)
(i) [tuur-pepp] (to go to the bathroom)
[dem-wonag] (Wolof: to go the bathroom)
(j) [lamp-faal] (‘Fall-the light’ used to refer to Ibrahima Fall)
[ibrahima-faal] or [ibra-faal] (the first and last name of Bamba’s most prominent disciple)
(k) [ïebbalu] (to give oneself to a religious leader)
[ïoxe-sa-bopp] (Wolof: to give oneself to someone, not necessarily to a religious leader)
(l)[maïïaal] (a type of begging that disciples do while singing spiritual poems)
[jelwaan] (Wolof: a generic term for begging)
Murids, regardless of their social status, use the Wolof words and phrases on the first column. These words generally have emotional meaning for Murids (compared to non-Murids) as they refer to behavioral, cultural or religious practices that characterize the brotherhood. Although these words are generally found in religious contexts, they are also found in non-religious contexts in the Murid community. The use of such words in Wolof whether in religious or non-religious contexts, de facto marks one as a member of the Murid community. Similar to the Arabic loanwords, such Wolof words represent linguistic variables that distinguish Murids from non-Murids in Senegal. The coining of such words in the Murid speech community to express Murid religious concepts or behavioral patterns indicates Murids’ constant desire of assertion of their identity. Thus, the use of particular Arabic loanwords and the coining of such Wolof words and phrases are linguistic means used to strengthen Murids’ Islamic faith and assert Murid sub-Saharan African identity. In fact, the use of non-Murid linguistic structures or behavioral patterns are referred to as Murite-wul (Wolof: non-Murid-like characteristic) and is opposed to the construct of Murite-na (Wolof: Murid-like characteristic) in the community.
Although it cannot be denied that the Murid community uses French loanwords today, such loanwords are very limited in number (in comparison to those borrowed from Arabic and Murid neological innovations) in the Murid discourse. In fact, French words found in the Murid communities are generally encountered in informal contexts. Most of these words are those used to designate modern items such as T.V, radio, plane etc. While the use of such words are tolerated because they are used to refer to new items for which Wolof words have not been coined, the use of French words that have Wolof equivalents are not accepted, as they indicate that the speaker prefers French to Wolof (which is an important social statement in the community). Thus, despite the prestige of French in Senegal (where it is the official language), in Touba (the Murid spiritual capital city) French is not accepted as it is in other communities in the country. Unlike in other communities in the country where French words are markers of social prestige, the use of too many French words in one’s speech in Touba marks one as a sympathizer of the ‘Nasaraan’ (the European colonizers), whereas the use of pure Wolof words marks one as a proud member of the community. For this reason, the language loyalty toward Wolof and the prestige associated with it found in the Murid community is unique in Senegal. The low frequency of French words in Murid discourse today is a symbol of an ongoing rejection of the French ideology, culture and political authority. Thus, unlike many religious communities in sub-Saharan Africa, the Murid community has continued to retain its origins, identity, beliefs and culture in French speaking Africa since colonization. The following approximative stratification of the linguistic varieties found in most Senegalese cities gives a more precise idea of the contrastive prestige that exists between Wolof, Arabic and French in the Murid community today.
Linguistic Varieties
Prestige   & Attitude in Touba
Pure Wolof 
Wolof & Arabic influence
Standard French
Wolof   & French influence
The Murid community is characterized by two main linguistic varieties: Pure Wolof (the variety of Wolof not influenced by either Arabic or French) and a variety consisting of lexical borrowings or code switching & code-mixing between Wolof and Arabic. Unlike urban Wolof that is characterized by a high rate of French borrowings, code switching and mixing, and loanwords from English (among the youth), the Murid community of Touba does not approve of any Western linguistic intrusion.
Consequently, while pure Wolof, Arabic borrowings, code-switching & code- mixing between Arabic and Wolof are very prestigious in the community due to the assertion of Murid African identity, and Islamic beliefs, standard French and the urban Wolof are not desired as they constitute tokens of identification of those who side with European imperialism in the country. 
The hybrid nature of Senegal taken into account (Swigart, 1994:180), a country with one step in the French culture and the other in the African culture, most religious brotherhoods have been almost completely assimilated to the French culture, language and ideology, except the Murid community. Despite the high number of Murid intellectuals (Sheikh Anta Diop, Madike Wade, Abdoulaye Wade, Abdoulaye Dieye etc.) and the impact of the West in Senegal today, the Murids represent one of the few communities (if not the only one) which has survived the colonization while still retaining their basic way of life, religious beliefs and philosophical tenets which are found in their use of language and their daily life due to the legacy of Sheikh Ahmadu Bamba. The very low occurrence of French linguistic items in Murid speech patterns in general (in contrast to the speech of the majority of the Senegalese people) is evidence of the failure of the French assimilation agenda in the Murid community.
The victory of Muridism over the French assimilation objectives today is the result of the demystification of the French authority by Sheikh Ahmadu Bamba. In recognizing no other authority than that of God, he destroyed the foundational base of the colonial domination. Compared to Gandhi, it can be argued that Sheikh Ahmadu Bamba’s method has been more refined in the struggle against colonial domination. Although both Mahatma and Bamba were against the use of violence, their major difference remains strategic. While Gandhi can be regarded as a political leader since he used protest marches, boycotts of British products (thereby paralyzing the economy) in his anti-colonial struggle, Bamba is a spiritual leader who defied the French by the means of abstention, total ignorance of the French authority and complete devotion to the religion of Islam.
Today, the discipline, hardwork, strong faith and economic prosperity of the Murids testify to the valuable legacy of Sheikh Ahmadu Bamba in the world in general and in sub-Saharan Africa in particular. The philosophy of work cultivated in Muridism has helped the Murid community enjoy a remarkable economic expansion in Senegal as the informal sector business and the import and export commerce are mainly controlled by the Murids in the country (Wade, 1969). Thus, Touba has become an attraction pole with a remarkable modern economic development in Senegal today. Yet, religious and linguistic behaviors of Murids continue to be anti-imperialist symbols and means of assertion of Murid African identity.
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