Linguistics Colloquium

Event Date: 

Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 3:30pm

Event Location: 

  • South Hall 3605

Michael Ahland


Linguistics Colloquium
Thursday, 6 February, 2014
3:30 p.m. South Hall 3605
The Development of Person-Marking Systems in Northern Mao
Michael Ahland
Northern Mao (Afroasiatic-Omotic-Mao), an endangered language of western Ethiopia, exhibits no fewer than three distinct bound pronominal subject marking paradigms in the verbal system (Ahland 2012): a prefix set found on realis verbs and two distinct suffix sets on irrealis verbs (one for future tense constructions and another for negative non-future constructions). The widespread innovation of these systems coupled with massive divergence from other Omotic-Mao languages in the pronoun system has been particularly problematic for comparativists. Some have suggested that Northern Mao might be Nilo-Saharan (Grottanelli 1940; Greenberg 1963:130), while others, like M. Lionel Bender, who spent much of his career establishing Omotic as a coherent group, suggested that it might be a mixed language (Bender 1996:158; 2000:184).  I will demonstrate that the explanation for the Mao divergence from other Omotic languages, in both the bound pronominal systems and the free pronouns, lies in specific historical developments which began in the verbal system.
Ahland, Michael B. 2012. A grammar of Northern Mao (Ma?we?s Aas'e?). Eugene, OR: UO dissertation.
Bender, M. Lionel. 1996. The limits of Omotic revisited. In Catherine Griefenow-Mewis and Ranier M. Voigt (eds.), Cushitic and Omotic languages: Proceedings of the third international symposium (Berlin, 1994), 143-66. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe.
Bender M. Lionel. 2000. Comparative morphology of the Omotic languages. Muenchen: Lincom Europa.
Greenberg, Joseph H. 1963. The languages of Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Research Center in Anthropology, Folklore, and Linguistics.
Grottanelli, Vinigi. 1940. I Mao. Centro studi per l'Africa orientale Italiana; missione etnografica nel Uollega occidentale, 1. Rome: Reale Accademia d'Italia.