Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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ESAYAS Tajebe, Mekelle University, Ethiopia

Saaho is one of East Cushitic language spoken in the Southeastern Eritrea and Northeastern part of Ethiopia. Banti and Vergari (2010), there are three main dialects: Northern, Central and Southern. This paper focuses on the Southern dialect. Saaho shows gender, not number, agreement in the subject inflection on verb. The gender values are masculine and feminine and are assigned to all nouns. Masculine show male and feminine a female subject agreement on verb. Nouns are grouped as V-final or C-final based on formal or semantic gender assignment system,. The formal system, tone pattern, is used for V-final nouns whereas semantic system, scale of individuation, is used with C-final nouns. On V-final nouns, placement of tone on penultimate triggers masculine but on the final syllable triggers feminine gender. On C-final nouns collective aggregates are feminine but granular aggregates, liquids/substance, individual objects are masculine. The number values of nouns include singular, plural and general. Singular nouns form plurative by morphological means. The plural reference nouns form singulative by adding a suffix. General reference nouns form singulative and plurative references. The number values are associated with gender. Singulative forms can show gender either feminine or masculine by formal system. On nouns not semantically specified for sex, the gender of singulative forms has direct correlation with Part-Whole references. Masculine singulative form has a small size or partitive reference whereas feminine singulative form has whole reference. The gender values on plurative forms show difference within the Saaho varieties. In Southern Saaho, all plurative forms trigger feminine agreement on the verb and are considered as feminine whereas in the other dialects plurative forms are feminine and/or masculine (Welmers (1953) and Banti and Vergari (2007)