Comparative Morphology of the Omotic Languages
M. Lionel Bender
University of Southern Illinois-Carbondale
Omotic is the least-known family in the Afrasian (=Afroasiatic or "Hamito-Semitic") phylum. No book-length synthesis of the family has appeared previously and it is not generally known that Omotic is a highly agglutinative family with many obvious Afrasian characteristics. Omotic is located entirely within southwest and west Ethiopia, on both sides of the Omo River, from which it takes its name. Some still consder Omotic not to be an independent family, but rather West Cushitic.
In this monograph, the author covers all nine Omotic families in descriptive chapters as follows: 1. Northwest Ometo, 2. Southeast Ometo and C'ara, 4. Gimira-Yem (Janjero)-Kefoid, 6. Dizoid, 7. Aroid, 8. Mao. Chs. 3 and 5 are analytic chapters covering preceding chapters and Ch. 9 is an overall analysis, summary, and conclusions. All varieties having sufficient documentation (about 30 in number) are covered, along with notes on others.
Sources are all available published sources which contain significant linguistic material, many of them obscure and difficult to obtain, plus extensive unpublished fieldnotes of the author and others. All are fully referenced.
Each descriptive chapter has an introduction featuring nomenclature, locations, demographic estimates, and a listing of main sources. There follows a brief phonological sketch divided into consonants, vowels, and suprasegmentals and phonotactics. Morphological categories are then taken up in the order: pronouns, including independents, possessives, verbal affixes, gender, number, and case; demonstratives; interrogatives; nouns, including species and the categories applying to pronouns; verbal TMA (tense-mode-aspect) system; copulas and connecters; nominal and verbal derivations. In the comparative analysis, the author surveys grammatical formatives by family and indicates potential proto-forms where possible. Conclusions include remarks on the sub-classification of Omotic and the position of Omotic in the Afrasian phylum.
The book contains about 250 pages including Notes, References, Map. It is to be followed by a second volume on Omotic phonology and lexicon.
ISBN 9783895862519. LINCOM Studies in African Linguistics 19. 250pp. 2000.