Roland Kießling / Maarten Mous: The Lexical Reconstruction of West-Rift Southern Cushitic [PDF]


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X, 358 pp.
21 tables, index

Text language: English

Traditionally, the four closely related languages Iraqw, Gorwaa (Gorowa), Alagwa and Burunge, all spoken in Tanzania in the south of Arusha, are devided into a Northern and Southern West-Rift (W-R) language group, which together form a branch of Southern Cushitic. The two belonging to Northern W-R are Iraqw and Gorwaa, whereas Alagwa and Burunge are assigned to the Southern W-R sub-group. The lexical and phonological reconstructions of Kießling and Mous have led to a different picture of the internal relations within West-Rift.

Though the claim of a Northern and Southern West-Rift group has been maintained, phonological and morphological evidence isolates Burunge as the only modern representative of Southern W-R. Northern W-R must have undergone several splits: First an Iraqwoid and Alagwoid group have developed. From Iraqwoid, Iraqw and Gorwaa have been split, the modern representative of Alagwoid is Alagwa. A seemingly superficial closeness of Burunge and Alagwa is a consequence of massive contact.

The aim of this work is to provide a solid lexical reconstruction of West Rift Southern Cushitic. The authors claim that a reconstruction of Proto-West-Rift is the best possible approximation for the lexicon of Southern Cushitic in general. The lexical reconstruction provides insights into the history of the West-Rift languages and their subclassification. Through charting the history of the languages, this reconstruction in turn allows for interpretation about the history of the peoples themselves and suggests directions of future sociohistorical, ethnographical and archaeological research.

The detailed analyses of the historico-linguistic material presented here were published in a separate series volume:

Roland Kießling: Die Rekonstruktion der südkuschitischen Sprachen (West-Rift) [PDF]

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