Field and river

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

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

ICES20 logo

Use the "back" button of your browser to return to the list of abstracts.


Maria BULAKH, Russian State University for the Humanities - Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

In proto-Ethio-Semitic, the verbal paradigms of the prefix conjugation employ *ʔə- as the 1 sg. index and *nə- as the 1 pl. index. In a number of South Ethio-Semitic prefixes, some paradigms of prefix conjugation employ one and the same prefix in 1 sg. and in 1 pl. Yet, even a cursory glance reveals that the syncretism of 1 sg. and 1 pl. prefixes exhibit a great deal of variation. In the first place, the lack of distinction between 1 sg. and 1 pl. prefixes can be found in different subparadigms of prefix conjugation. It is most widespread in the short prefix conjugation (= jussive) and in the negative long prefix conjugation (= negative imperfect). In some languages, the distinction between 1 sg. and 1 pl. prefixes is lacking in the Inlaut long prefix conjugation. Some languages exhibit syncretism of 1 sg. and 1 pl. prefixes in the affirmative long prefix conjugation of the main clause. Second, the direction of the syncretism is from 1 sg. to 1 pl. in some languages and from 1 pl. to 1 sg. in the others. Third, the syncretism between the prefixes is often, but not alway, accompanied by the introduction of an innovative 1 pl. suffix which distinguishes between 1 sg. and 1 pl. forms. This lack of common pattern suggests that the syncretism between 1 sg. and 1 pl. prefixes in South Ethio-Semitic is not a genetic inheritance but rather a result of parallel development and, at least in some cases, of areal diffusion. The present contribution will discuss the various patterns and paths of development which have led to the merge between the 1 sg. and 1 pl. prefixes in South Ethio-Semitic. Due attention will be paid to the factor of language contact which has certainly contributed to the spread of the feature under discussion in South Ethio-Semitic.