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Lecture | LUCL Colloquium series

LUCL Colloquium: The relevance of Cushitic for the linguistic history of East Africa

Friday 11 November 2022
15:30 walk-in with coffee & tea, 16:00 talk and Q&A, followed by 17:00 drinks in the LUCL common room
LUCL Colloquium
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

We will present our intermediate results in the project Linguistic History of East Africa. The school book version of East Africa’s history is that the first inhabitants were Hunter-Gatherers with a stone-age culture speaking click languages surviving in Hadza and Sandawe. Cushitic-speaking people moved from Ethiopia into East Africa 4,000 years ago, bringing animal husbandry and agriculture; they are linked to the Pastoral Neolithic archaeological culture. Later came Bantu-speaking people from the West, the area of the Great Lakes, bringing more agriculture and iron, 1,500 years ago. Around the same time, from the north, south Sudan, arrived the Nilotic-speaking people with their cattle culture.

A crucial consideration is the debate whether Tanzanian Cushitic is a primary branch of Cushitic or a sub-sub branch of East Cushitic. And this is the issue that we address in the presentation. We show the presence of specific pre-Oromo (East Cushitic) lexical elements in Tanzanian Cushitic. We show the shared innovation of plural markers in Tanzanian Cushitic and East Cushitic. We discuss the challenges and potential consequences of classifying Tanzanian Cushitic as Oromoid and we propose a complex history of Tanzanian Cushitic involving more than one Cushitic stratum. Finally we will show how these issues relate to the various other historical issues that we address in our project.

  • This LUCL Colloquium will start at 15:30 walk-in with coffee & tea, 16:00 talk and Q&A, followed by 17:00 drinks in the LUCL common room.
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