Beyond 'Khoisan': Historical Relations in the Kalahari Basin by Tom Güldemann, Anne-Maria Fehn

By Tom Güldemann, Anne-Maria Fehn

Greenberg’s (1954) thought of a ‘Khoisan’ language kinfolk, whereas heartily embraced by way of non-specialists, has been harshly criticized by means of linguists engaged on those languages. proof for Greenberg's speculation has proved to be heavily inadequate and little growth has been made within the intervening years in substantiating his declare through the traditional comparative technique. This quantity is going past “Khoisan” within the linguistic experience by way of exploring a extra complicated heritage that incorporates a number of and frequent occasions of language touch in southern Africa epitomized within the areal notion ‘Kalahari Basin’. The papers contained herein current new information on languages from all 3 suitable lineages, Tuu, Kx’a and Khoe-Kwadi, complemented via non-linguistic study from molecular and cultural anthropology. A recurrent subject matter is to disentangle genealogical and areal historic kinfolk — an immense problem for historic linguistics commonly. The multi-disciplinary procedure mirrored during this quantity strengthens the speculation that Greenberg’s “Southern African Khoisan” is best defined by way of advanced linguistic, cultural and genetic convergence.

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This contact would have been more intense at a time when these San communities were still the demographically predominant populations in the area and little affected by the sociolinguistic pressure they are subject to today from food-producing groups like the Kgalagadi, Tswana, etc. Xoon (the northeasternmost Taa dialect) and Gǀui, and have also noted intensive contact between Gǀui and ǂ’Amkoe, aka ǂHoan. Two important results of this contact are that the three languages share an exceptionally high phonological complexity as well as a large number of lexical isoglosses (see Traill 1980; Traill & Nakagawa 2000; Güldemann & Loughnane 2012; and Honken, forthcoming).

Affinities between pronouns in Proto-Tuu and Kx’a Pronoun category Proto-Tuu Kx’a 1st person singular pronoun *N *mi ~ ma (Proto-Kx’a) 2nd person singular pronoun *a *a (Proto-Ju) 3rd person *ha *ha ~ ya (Proto-Kx’a) 3rd person *hi *yi ~ hi (Proto-Ju) Exclusive plural *si (1st person) *tsi (3rd person (own-group), Proto-Kx’a) about a lexical affinity between individual neighbouring languages – cannot yet be ascertained well due to paucity of available lexical reconstructions on the level of proto-languages, here for Tuu and Kx’a.

After Sands (1998a, 1998b) argued in detail that there is no convincing evidence that Hadza is genealogically related to any other Khoisan language, its genealogical classification is by now probably the least controversial. Even non-specialist Africanists have started to acknowledge this assessment and list Hadza as an African language isolate. This status corresponds to Hadza’s isolated position in the typological classification of Khoisan (cf. 1). The other language in eastern Africa, Sandawe, is a more problematic case.

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