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The project is part of a larger project by the PI to write an accurate grammar of Hoa and to explore the syntactic relations between the various Khoisan languages. The PI is also interested in incorporating his research on African languages into graduate and undergraduate courses on a continuing basis. Please report errors in award information by writing to: awardsearch nsf.

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Khoisan languages

Presidential and Honorary Awards. About Awards. How to Manage Your Award. Grant Policy Manual. Another feature common to the languages of both groups is the use of suppletion. This means that an entirely different morpheme —not merely an inflected form— is introduced to complete certain parts of a paradigm. This feature is perhaps most widely seen in languages of the JU family, where it may be manifested in the use of two different words to form the singular and plural forms of a given referring expression, as well as the use of different words to express the same predicate, depending on whether the subject is singular or plural, and whether the verb in question is used transitively.

The syntax of the various JU languages has been fairly thoroughly described in a number of works over the past few decades.

The syntactic structures of the! Ui and Taa languages, on the other hand, are only just beginning to be described in detail, and it is possible that further commonalities will be discovered as this work proceeds. With regard to their phonetic inventories, languages of both the JU and TUU families reflect a greater range of contrastive vowel colourations than the KHOE languages — that is, in addition to the use of semantically significant nasalisation, which is a feature common to all Khoisan languages.

The additional vowel qualities, which may also combine with one another, include pharyngealisation, breathy-voicing and glottalisation, although the! Ui languages seem to have featured only pharyngealisation. Much like the systems of Afroasiatic and Indo-European languages, the KHOE system divides nouns into categories that line up with the distinction between masculine and feminine in the case of animate referents. A third category is available for neutral or indeterminate reference. In languages of the Khoekhoe branch, these grammatical genders are overtly indexed by means of suffixes that mark the nouns as masculine or feminine.

It is often noted that the KHOE languages are also distinguished typologically by a general preference for a verb-final order SOV in the sentence, where the verb is placed after the subject S and any object O. While this is true in principle, overall ordering of constituents in the KHOE languages is in reality highly flexible, and seems to be driven primarily by pragmatic considerations of focus and topic. As is typically the case in languages that place the verb after the subject and any object, the adpositions in KHOE languages pattern in a parallel way, and are placed after the noun.

For this reason, they are frequently referred to as postpositions rather than prepositions. The differences between the languages belonging to the Kalahari and Khoekhoe branches of the KHOE family are not entirely well-defined.

The western sub-groups constituted by varieties of Khwe [47] , Naro and? Gana [48] may differ from one another in various aspects of their morphology and syntax, particularly in the expression of tense and aspect. These western varieties differ in turn from eastern subgroups such as varieties of Shua [49] and Tshwa in a number of respects, with the latter being distinguished amongst other things by the reduced number of clicks in their consonant inventories —and in particular the rarity of post alveolar! The following are some of the specific respects in which the Kalahari varieties differ from Khoekhoe.

Interestingly, Kora has preserved a number of features that are absent from Nama, yet which occur in the Kalahari languages. Examples include the occurrence in Kora of an ejective affricate both as a phoneme and in some dialects as a click accompaniment, [51] a few aspects of its morphology, such as the use of an accompanitive verb extension - xoa, and various items of vocabulary. The Namibian varieties of Khoekhoe include Nama, which is spoken in the south of Namibia, and various dialects spoken in the north of the country by the Damara people [52] and the Hai?

The differences between the varieties are mainly phonetic in character, although some minor differences in morphology and vocabulary are also found. The original South African varieties of Khoekhoe, insofar as we have records of them, can be divided very broadly into two groups, consisting of:. The early West Coast varieties were spoken by communities such as the Chariguriqua which may have meant the Little Guriqua , the Grigriqua perhaps Garigurikua or Gurigurikua, later Griqua or Griekwa , and the Amaqua! These dialects seem to have had close affinities with the varieties of Nama spoken in the northern reaches of the West Coast or Little Namaqualand , and in the southern parts of the country known today as Namibia formerly Great Namaqualand.

While occasional deadly outbreaks of smallpox at the Cape are known to have had a particularly devastating impact on the vulnerable local populations, the Khoi were certainly not entirely wiped out by the disease. In some cases, small groups accepted employment on their farms of the slowly advancing settlers, for example as herders of livestock and wagon drivers, where they rapidly began to acquire Cape Dutch.

Many others moved away from the shifting frontiers of the Cape, while from the earlys onwards, some made the choice to settle permanently in the vicinity of mission stations, both in Namaqualand in the far north-western sector of the Cape and in the interior of South Africa. Here they typically became bilingual — learning to speak, read and write Dutch and in some cases, English in addition to sustaining their own Khoekhoe variety, even if the latter was perhaps increasingly used only in the private setting of the home.


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Those Khoi of the West Coast who moved inland to mission stations such as Klaarwater originally! Although traditional matjieshuis structures could still occasionally be seen among more conventional modern buildings as recently as the early s, the Nama language by this time was in decline, having been widely replaced by Afrikaans.

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We have very few records for the older varieties of the West Coast, but it turns out that some members of the Links family interviewed by Lucy Lloyd in were Griqua rather than Korana. In particular, the small amount of material obtained from Siela Cela is recognisably different from Kora, and seems to represent a variety of Giri. While the speech of Piet Links himself featured a number of unmistakeable Kora characteristics, including the presence of the ejective affricate, there are various instances in the narratives he dictated where a more western and Giri-like influence occasionally manifests itself, not only in the morphology and lexis, but also in the syntax.

By the s and 30s, there were very few speakers of Giri left. The phonetician Douglas Beach who worked in the field at this time was able to provide only a short paragraph of general observations concerning phonetic characteristics of the Griqua variety, [58] although Meinhof contributed a short illustrative vocabulary, [59] having obtained some limited information from two or three speakers who visited the mission station at Pniel where he was staying in Perhaps the most lasting record of the dialects of the early clans of the West Coast and Northern Cape is to be found in local place names, such as Garies, Komaggas and Nababeep, to mention only a few.

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A number of sources have been suggested for the name Garies, [60] including! It may simply arise, however, from! Some of the elderly N uu speakers among the? Khomani San, who have a high proportion of Khoekhoe words in their speech, initially gave the word g! Many more place names of the present day West Coast and Northern Cape are recognisably Khoekhoe, even though it is often difficult to work out what the exact forms of the originals were, or what their meanings would have been.

South African Languages | Khoesan Languages

The nomadic Khoi also distinguished and named various types of terrain, climatic region and geological substrate —probably because of the different vegetation types and animals associated with them— while many more place names directly incorporate the names of plants or animals. Travellers like these last two encountered the dispersed clans not only in the interior and along the middle and upper stretches of the Gariep, but even beyond the Gariep and the Vaal. It is difficult to form an accurate estimate of the original numbers of the Khoi at the Cape, particularly since most of the clans seem to have visited Table Bay and the surrounding areas only at certain times of the year.

The direct link between the Cape Khoi who regularly visited Table Bay and the Korana is attested in the first place by historical records, but is also confirmed by linguistic evidence —fragmentary and inevitably imprecise as this may be. A comprehensive list of the early records of Cape Khoekhoe has been compiled by Gideon Nienaber, [69] whose indispensable reference work also contains a near exhaustive collation of comparative sources for each instance of an old Khoekhoe word encountered in the early documents, indexed by its Afrikaans translation equivalent.

Some of these sources are described in more detail in the following chapter. For the eastern varieties of Cape Khoekhoe, only a few brief records have come down to us from people who travelled during the late 18th century to the outer regions of the slowly expanding settlement, along both coasts and as far afield as the Gariep in the north and the Great Fish River in the east. These travellers include two Swedish naturalists — Anders Sparrman, who travelled in the Cape between and , and Carl Peter Thunberg, who travelled independently of Sparrman, between and Ultimately, and much as in the case of the western clans, perhaps the most enduring aspect of the eastern Khoi legacy is to be found in local place names.

When all of this early lexical evidence is collated and compared, it is clear that Kora was close to Cape Khoekhoe, and that it was far more so than Giri or Nama. Just as in the case of any other language, the entity we are referring to as Kora consisted of a number of different dialects. Another way of interpreting this data might be in terms of the dispersed groups of the former West Coast clans on one hand, and the clans of Table Bay and the interior on the other.

Engelbrecht [81] in turn compared aspects of the Khoekhoe dialects spoken by the Lukas people and the Karoshebbers or Karosdraers on one hand, as against varieties spoken on the other by the Links, Kats [82] and Kraalshoek people. He similarly concluded that the varieties spoken by the first group were closer to Nama. The existence of what may have been a further minor dialect within Kora, not previously recognised as such but suggested by records made independently by Lichtenstein, [83] Burchell [84] and Wuras, [85] has come to light during the course of the present study.

The most salient feature of this variety was a more frequent use of —m as opposed to —b for the masculine singular suffix. These cases seem to have occurred in words that contained a nasalised vowel, and probably developed out of an assimilation involving the intrusive nasal segment that could appear after such a vowel in certain varieties of Kora, and the masculine suffix. The same process was probably responsible for the variant form Tsuni?

Prehistoric Bantu-Khoisan language contact

The original nasalisation of the vowel occasionally seems to have disappeared subsequently, as seen in some of the examples below. The remaining sections of this chapter, which are found in the electronic version, will provide brief discussion of a range of theories and conjectures about relationships between the KHOE languages and various other African languages, beginning with an account of longstanding proposals for a connection between the KHOE languages or in some cases just the Khoekhoe branch of the family and one or another language or language family from further north or in the east of Africa.

Hypotheses concerning relationships between languages of the KHOE family and various other languages of Africa. In terms of this framework, and drawing on the very scant sources of information then available for Nama, he proposed a connection between the Khoekhoe language Nama, and not only various languages such as Ancient Egyptian and Galla that would be classified today as part of Afroasiatic, but also Indo-European languages, which at the time were referred to as Indo-Germanic.

This idea, insofar as it suggested a connection between Nama as the stand-in for Khoekhoe languages and other languages of north-eastern Africa, was further developed by later scholars, and finally found its way in a modified form, and minus the proposed link with Indo-European into the Hamitic hypothesis of Meinhof, which appeared in When Otto Dempwolff a few years later in published his extensive study [88] which includes texts of a newly-found click language of East Africa, Sandawe, he suggested that it too belonged to the supposed Hamitic group, [89] and even offered a short comparative list of words for Nama and Sandawe, where he claimed various vague and semantically only tenuously connected similarities.

It has recently been proposed by two linguists working independently of one another that, given the right combination of co-articulatory events, clicks have the potential to emerge, [90] while a recent case of click emergence in exactly the predicted environment has even been documented. There is another click language spoken in the country now known as Tanzania, namely Hadza. The location of Sandawe and Hadza is shown in Figure 1.