New PDF release: A Grammar of Goemai

By Birgit Hellwig

ISBN-10: 3110238284

ISBN-13: 9783110238280

This is the 1st description of Goemai, a West Chadic language of Nigeria. Goemai is spoken in a language touch zone, and this touch has formed Goemai grammar to the level that it may be thought of a pretty untypical Chadic language. The grammar provides the constitution of the present-day language, relates it to its diachronic assets, and provides a semantic viewpoint to the description.

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Extra info for A Grammar of Goemai

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This is the case in (2b): the speaker first utters the pronoun /han/ 'lSG' in its own intonation unit (realizing it high); following that, she realizes it low, and its high tone settles on the lowtone noun fbi/ 'thing' (see below for tone spreading in verbal clauses). On the basis of such behavior, underlying rising tones are posited for a small number of words. Table 17.

In Goemai, all vowel-initial syllables are phonetically preceded by a glottal stop. As such, the occurrence of the glottal stop is predictable, and it is (tentatively) not analyzed as a phoneme. However, the analysis is complicated by the observation that there are no close front or back vowels in vowel-initial syllables. The glides, by contrast, show a complementary distribution in precisely this environment: /j/ precedes /i/, and /w/ precedes /u/. This distribution suggests that at least some glides are phonetically-conditioned variants, preceding close vowels in vowel-initial syllables.

In any case, it is unlikely that prenasalized consonants of Goemai are retentions from Proto-Chadic. P. Newman and Ma Newman (1966: 223-225) and P. Newman (1977a: 11) do not reconstruct prenasalized consonants. Greenberg (1958) argues for the existence of prenasalized stops for Proto-Chadic, but assumes that these developed into voiced stops in the Angas-Goemai group. Jungraithmayr and lbriszimow (1994: xix-xxx) reconstruct *b2, *d2, and *g2, which may have been prenasalized, but they also assume that most synchronic prenasalized consonants have developed independently.

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A Grammar of Goemai by Birgit Hellwig


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