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Classifying Shabo

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  1. Classifying Shabo Tyler Schnoebelen ACAL 40 10 Apr 2009

  2. Shabo

  3. Shabo

  4. Lots of data • 242 languages of Central/East Africa • 90 Nilo-Saharan languages • 1213 data points on structural features (phonological, morphological, syntactic) • Wordlists for 30+ languages

  5. Handling complexity

  6. Past classifications of Shabo • Bender • 1983: Nilo-Saharan? • 1995: Isolate? • Anbessa and Unseth (1989) • Nilo-Saharan>Eastern Sudanic • Fleming (1991) • Nilo-Saharan>Major branch (closest to Koman) • Ehret (1995) • Isolate • Ethnologue, WALS (current) • Nilo-Saharan>Unclassified

  7. Evidence for the NS hypothesis • Morphology • Plural morpheme (-k) • Accusative case suffix (-k) • Lexicon • Lots of NS look-alikes

  8. Plural problems • Shabo pluralizes by adding yero(‘many’) after the (singular) noun • Previous researchers also found a –k plural (common in NS) • Probably Majang interference • A –k strategy isn’t accepted by any of my consultants • Semantically plural words show no hidden –k

  9. Case conundrums • Accusative case –k • True, though the accusative case is sometimes –kak, sometimes,–ka, sometimes –k • It’s also used for location (much like Urdu ko) • No other case markers are similar

  10. Wobbly wordlists • My consultants reject about 12% of the lists people have used to classify Shabo • Mostly because of Majang interference • As for the remaining, as Ehret (1995) points out there seem to be too many resemblances, to too many different languages

  11. Bender (1996) on Nilo-Saharan characteristics • Singular N/plural K • Masculine R/feminine B/sometimes neuter n • Inclusive/exclusive pronouns • a or iin all pronouns • Near demonstrative i, far e • Perfect o (or a), imperfect e

  12. NS shared innovations • Bender has 80 of these • The only things that look close are: • bV negative • (Saharan, Fur, Koman) • Shabo’s is –be • T locative • (Berta, Kunama, part of Eastern Sudanic) • Ablative in Shabo is –ti • -(y)E genitive • (Saharan, part of Eastern Sudanic, Kuliak) • Shabo has two strategies that could be related: -ke genitive or –e/i suffix • ŋ interrogative formative • (Berta, Eastern Sudanic, Central Sudanic, Maban) • There may be an n formative in Shabo

  13. PostpositionsandPrepositions(Nichols 1995, Croft 1996) Stable

  14. Object-Subject-VerbandObject-Verb-Subject(Croft 1996) Unstable

  15. 50

  16. Bender (1996) (Complex group) (Complex group)

  17. Shabo

  18. Nara Nubian Nyima Shabo Taman • Bender • Bayesian

  19. Taman and Shabo vs. E. Sud Similarities Differences Adj N Shabo, but N Adj for Taman Taman has a more complicated tonal system (rising/falling) • Neither has pronominal possessive suffixes • SOV • Gen Noun

  20. Nubian and Shabo vs. E. Sud Similarities Differences No velar nasal in Nubian Gender distinction in Shabo pronouns • No grammatical gender • No inclusive/exclusive • SOV • postpositions • Gen Noun • Case marking on all types of nouns

  21. Moreover • We have long records of the Nubians and they’ve been doing hoe agriculture and trade for a long time • The Tamans also have had hoe agriculture and animal husbandry (they are also fishers, historically) • Nothing obvious in the lexicon

  22. “Nothing obvious in the lexicon”? • Looking for similarities in word form/meaning • Venerable tradition • Fundamental practice

  23. Problems with eyeballing • False positives • English much • Spanish mucho • False negatives • Albanian vayzë • Armenian k’oyr • (from IE *swesor, ‘sister’)

  24. Quick fixes • Use basic vocabulary • Watch for natural sound changes • Look for common semantic shifts

  25. Central Sudanic

  26. Shabo

  27. Bender (2000)

  28. Lendu/Ngiti (mostly Ngiti) Similarities Differences No initial velars (at least in Ngiti) Inclusive/exclusive distinction in Ngiti No gender distinctions in Ngiti pronouns Syllable structure simpler for Ngiti, tones more complex No cases in Ngiti • Much of word order is the same: • Postpositions • Gen Noun same • Adj Noun • etc