Language name and locationː Oroko, SW region, Cameroon [Refer to Ethnologue]

言名称和分布地区奥罗科语, 喀麦隆西南大区梅梅州和恩迪安州


1. èɔ́kɔ́ ~ èjɔ́kɔ́

21.  ɾó nà èɔ́kɔ́ (20+1)

2. béèbɛ́ ~ béˋbɛ́

22.  ɾó nà béèbɛ́ / béˋbɛ́

3. béɾàɾó

23.  ɾó nà béɾàɾó

4. béˋné

24.  ɾó nà béˋné

5. bétá

25.  ɾó nà bétá

6. bétá ˋɾíɔ́kɔ́     (5, 1)

26.  ɾó nà bétá ˋɾíɔ́kɔ́ (20+5+1)

7. bétá nà béˋbɛ́ (5+2)

27.  ɾó nà bétá nà béˋbɛ́ (20+5+2)

8. béˋbɛ́ béˋsé    (2 not)

28.  ɾó nà béˋbɛ́ béˋsé (20+2 not)

9. éˋsé ˋjɔ́kɔ́       (not 1)

29.  ɾó nà éˋsé ˋjɔ́kɔ́ (20+not 1)

10. ɾóndàɾó

30.  ɾó nà ɾóndàɾó (20+10)

11. ɾóndàɾó ná èjɔ́kɔ́   (10+1)

40.  móˋ máàbɛ́ ~ máˋbɛ́ (20, 2)

12. ɾóndàɾó nà béèbɛ́ (10+2)

50.  móˋ máàbɛ́ nà ɾóndàɾó

13. ɾóndàɾó nà béɾàɾó (10+3)

60.  móˋ máɾàɾó

14. ɾóndàɾó nà béˋné   (10+4)

70.  móˋ máɾàɾó nà ɾóndàɾó

15. òkɔ́ɾɔ̀

80.  móˋ máˋné

16. òkɔ́ɾɔ́ nà èjɔ́kɔ́    (15+1)

90.  móˋ máˋné nà ɾóndàɾó

17. òkɔ́ɾɔ́ nà béèbɛ́   (15+2)

100. ekpa èɔ́kɔ́ (bag 1)

18. òkɔ́ɾɔ́ nà béɾàɾó  (15+3)

200. bekpa béˋbɛ́ (bags 2)

19. òkɔ́ɾɔ́ nà béˋné    (15+4)

1000. íkóɾí ˋíɔ́kɔ́ ~ ɾìfàfé ɾìɔ́kɔ́

20. ɾóˋ

2000. ɾókóɾí ɾóˋbɛ́ ~ màfàfé máˋbɛ́


Linguist providing data and dateː Mr. Dan Friesen, Missionary with World Team, USA, June 15, 2009.

供资料的语言学家: Mr. Dan Friesen, 2009 年 6 月 15 日.


Other comments: Oroko is spoken by approximately by approximately 100,000 speakers in South West region: Meme division and Ndian division, Cameroon.

The data was taken from Mbonge dialect of Oroko language, South West Region of Cameroon, over the last 10 year.
Vocabulary notes:
The word for 100 is the same word as used for bags. There is likely some historical
    link between something carried in bags and 100 (coins or weight in pounds/kg), but
    I have no solid proof of this.

2. The word for 1000 is “sheet of paper” which itself is the same as “wing of bird”. The
    currency here is CFA, with 1000 being one of the smallest paper bills (currently
    equivalent to about $2, set exchange with Euro, formerly French Franc,
so has
    remained fairly stable, as in it has probably been one of the smallest paper notes for
    a long time). I’m not definite on this link, but given that this is an alternative
    vocabulary item, it seems fairly likely. Of course, more recently the English numerals
    are replacing the traditional counting system, such as /hundreti/ ‘100’ and
    /tawsandi/ ‘1000’.

Morphology Notes:
1.  Just in case you wondered, the series from 31-39 echoes 11-19 in the form of  
20+10+1, 20+10+2, 20+10+3, 20+10+4, 20+15, 20+15+1, 20+15+2, 
  20+15+3, 20+15+4. And just in case you look up Cameroon and notice that it
    is francophone, don’t assume that they are copying the idea from French 80-99
    numbers. The Oroko live in the section of Cameroon that is a former ENGLISH
The first word of forty (móˋ) is the same noun as twenty (ɾóˋ), but with a different
class marker. Phonologically this breaks down: /ɗi-/ (class 5 - singular) or /ma-/
   (class 6 - plural) attaching to the root /óˋ/ (“twenty”) where the vowel of the class
   marker is deleted. The same is true of one/two hundred (root /kpa/ with class 7
   /e/- or 8 /be/- prefix) and also one/two thousand (root /kóɾí/ with class 19
   (singular) /i/- or 11 (plural) /ɾo/- prefix).
The second word (modifer) of forty (máàbɛ́ / máˋbɛ́) is really the same word as
    two (béèbɛ́ / béˋbɛ́), being made of the root /ˋbɛ́/ (‘two’) with class 6 (plural)
    agreement prefix /má/- (to agree with the class of ‘twenty’) or the class 8 (plural)
    marker /bé/- (default for ordinal counting) respectively. The same is true of the
    modifiers of thousand, which are the same roots as ‘one’ /ɔ́kɔ́/ and ‘two’ /ˋbɛ́/
    except with the appropriate class markers, class 19 (singular) /i/- or 11 (plural)
    /ɾo/- prefix).
he root of ‘one’ is /ɔkɔ/, but when the prefix /i/- is added, a glide /j/ can be
    heard phonetically between the prefix and root. When the prefix /e/- is added,
    some dialects have the same /j/ as a glide, while about half the dialects insert /
    or /e/ becomes
ʧ/ resulting in /eʧɔkɔ/ or /ʧɔkɔ/. This process is generally
    observed throughout the phonology in the other dialects, but I have not fully
    analyzed it.
Dialect Comments:
   There are at least 9 distinct Oroko ‘clans’ each with their own dialect, with 4
   definite dialect clusters (1-3-1-3) that are approximately equally different from
   each other and one (forming what I call a ‘dialect circle’ as opposed to a ‘dialect
   continuum’). The last dialect borders another language and is the most different
   from everyone, relating more strongly to only 1 cluster. None of the clans or
   clusters is obviously central, more respected or historically the root of the others.

 -  One of the other 8 Oroko dialects uses 5+3 for ‘8’. About half use a totall
separate vocabulary item /wambi/ that may be borrowed from a neighboring language.

-   Two dialects use 5+4 for ‘9’, others have morphological variants of ‘not 1’.

-   As for the numbers 10 and above, initial data shows only slight phonetic, phonological or morphological differences. Example: ‘2’ is /bebɛ/, /bebe/,
or /beba/ and ‘4’ is /bene/, /benɛi/, /beni/, /bini/ depending on the dialect

Oroko phonemic Chart: Consonants





Laminal 1



























Phonetic Observations:
    - General observation – with a lack of a stop/fricative distinction at any point of
      articulation, the consonants (more so in the front of the mouth) all have a bit of
      variation in the amount/strength of closure, so that sometimes the air is incompletely
      “stopped”, while not a prototypical fricative.

o   /f/ varies between /f/ and a fricative /p/

o   /R/ varies between /d/, /l/ and /r/, tending to be ‘stronger’ (more like /d/)
word initially, before hi vowels and less so morpheme initially.

o   /b/ also is ‘stronger’ word-initially, and ‘weaker’ (resembling a /w/ or
fricative /b/) word-medially.

-  Oroko has a 7-vowel Bantu system, with ATR distinctions in the mid-vowels:
 /i/, /e/, /ɛ/, /a/, /ɔ/, /o/, /u/

-  Oroko has two tones, high and low, with downstep    (indicated in the transcription as a floating low tone). The downstep is approximately 1/3 below the high tone as compared to the low tone. Downstep is only found at morpheme boundaries (most exceptions can be attributed to borrowed words). Theoretically, this indicates a deleted vowel - either historically (such as the disappearance of a final syllable), or morphologically (Oroko prefers a CV syllable template, and often deletes vowels at morpheme boundaries). The two forms given for ‘two’ béèbɛ́ / béˋbɛ́ illustrate either the lengthening of the prefix vowel to carry the low tone, or the floating tone resulting in a downstep.

-   The most predominant tone process is for high tones to spread one syllable to the right. This does not happen phrase finally (such as words in isolation), or when the following low tone is in turn followed by a high tone. For example ‘15’ (no spread – phrase final) vs. ‘16’ (high tone on second syllable spreads to final syllable of first word) and ‘11’ (high tone spread from last syllable of first word to second word ‘and’ since the syllable following /na/ is also low) vs. ‘12’ (no spread to /nà/ since the word following is once again high)


[1] As this column has a mixture of alveopalatal and palatal phonemes, I have decided to use the less precise phonetic description “laminal” (Kenstowicz 1994:30) to group all the phonemes made with the tongue-blade, as the traditional phonemic features are all too specific for Mbonge.


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