The primary branches of Cushitic: Seriating the diagnostic sound change rules

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This article situates Dahalo and Southern Cushitic within an overall seriation of the early phonological evolution of each of the Cushitic sub-branches. A sequence of nine diagnostic sound changes solidly establishes Dahalo’s membership in the Southern Cushitic branch. Different sound change histories characterized the evolution of each of the proto-languages of Eastern Cushitic, Agaw, and Beja. Seriating the sound change histories in each branch reveals that the presence of the same or similar reflexes of certain consonants in different branches does not reflect closer branch relationships, but came about separately through the operation of differently ordered and structured sound change rules.


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