XXII, 342 pp.
3 maps, 9 diagrams, 76 tables, appendix: Hamar texts, Hamar–English and English–Hamar lexicons, subject index
Text language: English
This study focuses on the description of the phonology, morphology and syntax of Hamar, a language spoken by the agro-pastoralist people who are known by the same name, and live in the lower Omo valley of South West Ethiopia.
The study is based on 9 months of fieldwork carried out between 2013 and 2014 in Hamar territories. Language data was gathered from 14 native speakers in Hamar villages, and it amounts to 50 texts of varying lengths and genres. While the exact classification of Hamar remains controversial, this work points out, without any claim of completeness, various putative links to language families and groups.
The Hamar language is spoken by approximately 46,500 people (Lewis 2009). The Hamar refer to their own language as hámar aapó, and they form a cultural and linguistic unit together with the Banna and the Bashada. Their languages are intelligible, but show minor variations in the lexicon and in the phonology. The commonly accepted classification sees Hamar as a South Omotic language within the Omotic family of the Afro-Asiatic phylum.
Whereas there is general consensus on the genetic relationship between Hamar (including its dialects Banna and Bashada), Aari, Dime and Kara (that is, the South Omotic branch of the Omotic family), the controversy concerns the external relationships that this group of languages holds with Cushitic and/or Omotic, and at a higher level, with the Afro-Asiatic or the Nilo-Saharan phylum. The author concludes that ambiguous traits such as the Nilotic elements in the pronominal system or the Afro-Asiatic features in the verbal derivation are the vestiges of millennia of intense language contact that took place between Afro-Asiatic and Nilo-Saharan.