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The (Hi)story of Nobiin – 1000 Years of Language Change

Marianne Bechhaus-Gerst

It is not often that we can observe language change in a language over a period of more than one thousand years. Nobiin-Nubian is the only language of the Nilo-Saharan phylum amongst African languages where this is possible. This book analyzes processes of language change and grammaticalization in this language based on textual evidence from Old Nobiin, written between the 8th and the 15th century, as well as from Modern Nobiin. At the same time the study of the non-religious texts in Old Nobiin gives new insights into history, culture and society of Medieval Nubia. As so far most of the work on Old Nobiin has been done by classical scholars and the texts are available only in non-transcribed and non-segmented form, the numerous examples from the texts may serve to interest scholars with different backgrounds for the interesting subject of language change in Nobiin as well as the medieval history of Nubia.
Contents: Multilingualism and literacy in Nubia – The verb – The origin of a complementizer in Nobiin – A short note on the so-called emphatic particles of Old Nobiin – Conditionals – «Old» verbal extensions – Periphrastic constructions in Old Nobiin – Grammaticalization of verbal complexes – Notes on syntax – Nubia in the medieval Millennium - the written sources.