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Cushitic Lexicon and Phonology

Edited by Grover Hudson


M. Lionel Bender

Edited By Grover Hudson

Cushitic Lexicon and Phonology contains a concise reconstruction of lexical and phonological proto-forms for various stages in the development of Cushitic languages, the largest branch within the Afrasian (Afro-Asiatic) phylum. It is based methodologically on the comparative method of historical linguistics, using sound correspondences as major device for the identification of cognates. This almost-finished study was left by the author upon his untimely death in 2008 and was typographically reworked by the editor.

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1. Preliminaries


1. Preliminaries

1.1 Afrasian and Cushitic family structure

I assume that the Afrasian Phylum has four branches: Macro-Cushitic consisting of Berber, Semitic, and Cushitic, plus Chadic, Omotic, and Egyptian, but with the position of Egyptian relative to the others still unclear (Bender 1997).

Structure of Afrasian (Bender 1997; position of Egyptian in doubt)

Chadic (Jungraithmayr & Ibriszimow 1994, supplemented by Newman 1977, 1980 and Newman and Ma 1966) and Omotic (Bender 2003) have comparable solid lexical resources, based on established (basic) lexicon (from about 150 to about 300 items) rather than on initial consonants as so many sources are, even if the number of items is much greater. Bender (2003) covers 150 basic items and a supplementary 113, total about 263. Jungraithmayr & Ibriszimow (1994) consists of about 168 items. I searched for items of fundamental lexicon documented in all or nearly all branches of a family, so that comparability is high, rather than lexicon which illustrates putative regular correspondences of (usually) initial consonants, and brought in other lexicon to support phonological correspondences after these were established.

No really equivalent sources exist yet for branches other than Chadic and Omotic, although there are many sources, some of them extensive. In particular, Cushitic is lacking. Dolgopolsky (1973) and Ehret (1987) are good pioneering starts, but both are marred by questionable methodology.

Rather than list as many Cushitic items as possible by languages, it is important to take into account...

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