All in a Name, by Abbie Hantgan

In a paper recently brought to our attention,

Polylanguaging in Superdiversity by J. N. JørgeNSeN, M. S. KarreBæK, L. M. MadSeN, and J. S. MøLLer University of Copenhagen, Denmark,

an interesting discussion emerges that’s relevant for our linguistic situation in Casamance. Specifically, the observation,

“…that many names for languages have been invented by Europeans, not by those to whom the languages were ascribed.” (pg. 27)

This remark prompted me to ask where the name Bandial came from.  After quite a bit of digging among the memories of some of the oldest and wisest inhabitants of the village of Bandial, here is the story:

Once upon a time, there were two families who lived in a village known as Seleky, pronounced [selegi] by its own inhabitants. The two families’ last names were Tendeng and Bassène. The two families lived together in peace until an event occurred which caused the Bassène family to no longer wish to cohabitate with those of the Bassène. Those of the Bassène informed those of the Tendeng that there would be an initiation ceremony on a certain day in a neighbouring village. When that day came, all of the men of the Tendeng family travelled to the village to attend the ceremony, but when they arrived, they were surprised to find that none of the Bassène family members were present.
While the Tendeng family were at the ceremony, the Bassène family set fire to the Tendeng family’s houses. The women, who remained in the village, rather than to flee, disguised themselves as the male members of their household and fought against the Bassène. The Bassène, having thought that the Tendeng men were away, were taken by surprise and were sorely beat by the strength of the remaining women.
When the neighbouring village’s ceremony was complete, the Tendeng ventured back to their village but saw from afar their houses were all enflamed.  They fled to the a nearby island and settled there. When the Bassène men found out that they had been defeated by their enemies’ wives, they descended upon them with force and drove them from the village to the islands where they found their husbands and sons encamped.
During the colonial times, the island village became the seat of the township. One day, the tax collectors came to the village. The French tax collector asked the villagers if they were ready to pay their taxes. His translator posed the question, to which the villagers answered:
pan jíël! pan jíël! pan jíël!
 “we will pay! we will pay! we will pay!”
pan : FUT, ji : 1PL, bu-ël : “to pay (taxes, smth owed)”
The tax collector, surprised by the village’s enthusiasm, misunderstood this as being the name of the village.
To this day, the name of the village, and the language in which it was uttered remains, Bandial.
 

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