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ǂ’Amkoe body part terminology in comparative perspective

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Abstract

The genealogical relationship of the ǂ’Amkoe language to the Ju languages in a newly labelled Kx’a family has been recently demonstrated (Heine & Honken 2010). In this paper, we support this relationship with additional etymologies which have been identified through comparison with lexical items documented from ǂ’Amkoe. Further, we discuss the areal relationships apparent in the ǂ’Amkoe lexicon, following Traill’s (1973: 27) observation that the proportion of ǂ’Amkoe cognates with other ‘Khoisan’ languages is “50% Northern, 33% Southern and 17% Central”. We will compare lexical items in ǂ’Amkoe with Ju, Khoe and Tuu languages of the Kalahari Basin Area (cf. Güldemann 1998b). Body part terminology is often considered to be an area of the lexicon which is relatively resistant to borrowing, yet we still find high percentages of body part terms which are apparently cognate with unrelated languages such as Gǀui and Taa. These findings underscore the danger inherent in a language classification which relies primarily on lexical data alone.

References

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