It was about one and a half years ago that I finally I arrived where I had always wanted to be and do what I had always wanted-- teach students, support small language communities and conduct research on African languages on my doorstep. The University of Cape Town and my new colleagues welcomed my efforts to establish the Centre for African Language Diversity-- CALDi as well as The African Language Archive-- TALA and I was recently appointed the Mellon Research Chair: African Language Diversity this initiative. The main aim of CALDi is to train young African scholars in descriptive linguistics and open up space for research into African languages at UCT with the hopes of countering the dominance of African linguistics outside the continent. It has been a great challenge for which my whole career has been a form of preparation...Read more
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A Typology of Verbal Derivation in Ethiopian Afro-Asiatic Languages
The general objective of this thesis is to determine a typology of verbal
derivation in Ethiopian Afro-Asiatic languages. As a starting point I
analyse the major verbal derivations of causative, middle and passive of
Oromo, Amharic and Shakkinoono. These three languages serve as
representatives of respectively the Cushitic, Semitic and Omotic
Afroasiatic subfamilies that are present in Ethiopia. These languages have
been chosen because the author has deeper knowledge of them, as a speaker
and a researcher. The analysis of the syntax and semantics of the causative
in Oromo and Amharic reveals interesting issues such as intransitive
causatives and impersonal causatives. Oromo is particularly rich in
multiple causative structures and these are analysed in depth. Shakkinoono
(and closely related Kafinoonoo) pose some challenges to a descriptive
analysis in that thematic stem final vowels have to be distinguished from
formely identical causative and middle/passive suffixes. The middle and
passive are separate morphemes in Oromo, and Cushitic languages in general,
but indistinguishable in Amharic (and Semitic) and Shakkinoono (and Omotic).
The meaning ranges of the middle are considered in the three languages.
Passives can be made of both patient and agent oriented intransitive verbs
which is cross-linguistically rare. The semantics of such impersonal
passives are discussed.
This study should be of interest to linguists working on Afro-Asiatic
languages, to typologists and to syntacticians particularly those working
on argument structure.