Lionel M. Bender
Southern Illinois University
Kunama is spoken by about 100,000 people in Eritrea. Once thought to be a "language isolate", Kunama is now classified as a rather divergent Nilo-Saharan language. Ethnographers have seen Chushitic-like cultural traits among the Kunama and linguistically Kunama shares the SOV-type syntax of the Ethiopian (Afrasian) language area and has lexical influence from Semitic and Cushitic. The rich suprasegmental phonology of vowel and consonant length, stress, and tone remains to be fully worked out. The pronominal system has dual as well as sg./pl. and inclusive/exclusive distinctions, but no grammatical gender. There are both prefixal and suffixal verbal conjugations, but these are lexically distributed and quite unlike the Afrasian aspectual use of the prefixes and suffixes.
The volume contains phonological and morphological sketches, overall syntax and some selected topics (notably nonverbal predication and relative constructions), two sample text with morphemic and free translations, references, and a language map of the Kunama area.
ISBN 9783895860720. Languages of the World/Materials 59. 60pp. 1996.