cushitic languages

In writing, long vowels are usually represented by a double letter. In most cases, the dialects are mutually intelligible. For instance, Oromo and Somali have three major dialects each, while Afar and Bedawi each have four. They are mainly spoken in the Horn of Africa and the Nile Valley. Author of. For example, in the Burunge clause, (first person singular subject + spoon + “selector” + broth + eat-first person singular-imperfective). There is a gender distinction in the 3rd person singular but not in the plural. Notably, languages may change “type” in the course of their history. Cushitic languages form a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. In some Cushitic languages, there are preverbal units (sometimes called “selectors”) that anticipate inflectional categories of the following verb, such as tense, sequence, direction, case, or clause type. Cushitic languages, a division of the Afro-Asiatic phylum, comprising about 40 languages that are spoken mainly in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and northwestern Kenya. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). the “selector” haguróo (from *ha-gu-ri-óo; the asterisk denotes a hypothetical reconstruction of an earlier form) comprises the non-third person subject ha; the third person singular, masculine object gu; the comitative case ri; and the habitual tense óo. Because West Cushitic languages have few vocabulary items in common with the other Cushitic tongues, some scholars consider them to form a separate branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, called Omotic. Plural formatives are plentiful. The Cushitic languages are spoken by approximately 12.7 million people (1967, estimate). The tonal system of Cushitic languages operates at the grammatical, rather than at the lexical level, as it does in languages such as Chinese. Below are the numerals 1-10 in six Cushitic languages. Some languages, such as Agau, Somali, and Boni (Kenya), distinguish between tense and lax vowels, which may result in a vowel harmony system such as the one found in Somali (in vowel harmony systems, certain qualities must match across all of a word’s vowels, thereby restricting possible vowel sequences). Nouns can be marked for definiteness, but not for indefiniteness, e.g., in Somali definiteness is marked with the suffix, case: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, ablative, locative, 2nd person plural can also be used as a polite form of address. In South Cushitic Burunge, for instance, “selectors” provide up to eight functional slots to mark grammatical categories such as clause type (e.g., conditional, concessive, subject focus, or relative), case (e.g., comitative, instrumental), oblique relative, oblique case focus, tense (e.g., preterite, habitual), sequence, and direction of action. Most languages have five vowels (i, e, a, o, u), which are further distinguished by different vowel lengths (long and short). Updates? The various languages in the Cushitic family contain diverse sets of consonants. South Cushitic languages are spoken mainly in central Tanzania. This family includes the Cushitic, Semitic, and Omotic languages now spoken in Ethiopia. These sounds occur only in loanwords. Adjectives agree with the nouns they modify in gender. There is no data on the difficulty level of Cushitic languages for speakers of English. New verbs may be formed by adding affixes, which may occur in combination with each other. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. All nouns and adjectives are marked for number: singular and plural, e.g., for masculine nouns, e.g., in Oromo. This page was last changed on 6 June 2020, at 08:09. Cushitic languages are often described as tonal, meaning that they incorporate two (high and low) or sometimes three (high, middle, and low) pitches to distinguish among words that are otherwise identical; contrast this to the use of intonation (as in English), in which meaning is provided by pitch changes (rising, falling) that occur across the sentence as a whole. The most widely spoken languages are Oromo (approximately 20 million speakers), Sidamo (some 3 million speakers), and Hadiyya (more than 1 million speakers) in southern Ethiopia; Somali, the official language of Somalia, with about 15 million speakers; and Saho-Afar, two closely related languages, spoken by more than 1 million people in Djibouti and adjacent areas. Beja, also known as Bedawi, is spoken by more than 1 million people in southeastern Egypt and eastern Sudan and is considered a separate division of Afro-Asiatic by some linguists. Verbal morphology is complex and is not uniform. Rounded velar consonants (in which the back of the tongue touches the soft palate and the lips are rounded simultaneously) are also common in Cushitic languages, although they are absent in the East Cushitic subdivisions. All rights reserved. Nouns and adjectives in Cushitic languages may have some or all of the following features: Cushitic pronouns have the following features: Cushitic Verbal systems are complex and vary considerably from language to language. Privacy Policy Some widely spoken Cushitic languages are Oromo, Somali, Beja, Agaw, Afar, Saho and Sidamo. Consonant clusters do not occur at the beginning or at the end of words. Contact Us, Foreign language learning is real world education, Until the 1970s, Afaan Oromo was written with either the Ge’ez. The table below lists Cushitic languages with more than 500,000 speakers. Cushitic languages are usually described as being tonal. Morphophonemic processes such as assimilation, elision, and fusion may change the resulting phonetic form considerably, as in the case of the Burunge selector lugoo (from *la-hi-gu-oo, comprising an optative clause + third person singular subject + second person singular masculine object + prospective tense). However, practically any constituent of the sentence can be made prominent by one means or another, including changes of constituent order. © 2014 - 2020. They are spoken primarily in the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia), as well as the Nile Valley (Sudan and Egypt), and parts of the African Great Lakes region (Tanzania and Kenya). Some linguists feel that the Cushitic system is could be more accurately described as having pitch-accent rather than tone. Cushitic languages, a division of the Afro-Asiatic phylum, comprising about 40 languages that are spoken mainly in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and northwestern Kenya. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? There are six major subdivisions within the Cushitic family: North Cushitic, or Beja; Central Cushitic (also known as Agau [Agaw, Agew]), with languages such as Bilin, Kemant, Kwara, Xamtage, and Awngi; South Cushitic (spoken mainly in Tanzania), including Iraqw, Burunge, and Gorowa, the hybrid language Maʾa/Mbugu, and (in Kenya) Dahalo; Highland East Cushitic, including Burji, Sidamo, Kambata, and Hadiyya; Lowland East Cushitic, including Dasenech, Arbore, Saho-Afar, and Oromo and its close relatives such as Konso; and the Omo-Tana group, with languages such as Somali, Rendille, and Boni. The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are also fairly common, although certain languages, such as Agau, do not use them at all. The pharyngeal consonants ḥ and ʿ (“ayn”) are articulated at the back of the mouth with the root of the tongue moving toward the back wall of the pharynx. The usual word order is subject–object–verb (SOV). The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Speakers of Cushitic lang In most cases, the dialects are mutually intelligible. Nouns distinguish grammatical cases, of which there may originally have been only two: absolutive and nominative. The remaining languages have significantly smaller populations, and some of them are small enough to be endangered or on the brink of extinction. The grammatical systems of Cushitic languages are quite complex. Modifiers, articles, pronouns, and case markers follow the nouns they modify. However, other orders are possible in order to mark the focus (new or prominent information ) in the sentence. There are six major subdivisions within the Cushitic family: North Cushitic, or Beja; Central Cushitic (also known as Agau Nouns can be used attributively to express modification. Affixes can indicate whether a verb is passive, causative, or reflexive, among other things. The dominant Cushitic languages, both in terms of number of speakers and geographical extension are Oromo, with about 24 million speakers in Ethiopia and Kenya; Somali, with 12.6 million speakers in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Djibouti; Sidamo with 1.9 million speakers in Ethiopia; Afar with about 1.4 million speakers in Eritrea; and Bedawi with about 1.2 million speakers in Sudan. Many consonants can be single or geminated (doubled). During the 2nd millennium, Africa, Lake Chad basin), Cushitic (Horn of Africa), and Omotic (southwestern Ethiopia). Most Cushitic languages have 22-25 consonants. In some Cushitic languages, such as Somali and, Nouns have an inherent (masculine or feminine) which cannot be determined by the form of the noun, with a few exceptions when biological gender is associated with a particular suffix, such as in Oromo. Although there is considerable variation among the languages with respect to their grammatical structure, most of them share certain features, such as for instance, all Cushitic languages are inflected and tend to use postpositions more than prepositions. A variety of glottalized consonants (i.e., consonants that are articulated through various types of air pressure in the mouth, depending on the upward or downward movement of the glottis) are widely used, including those that are ejective (articulated on the egressive airstream), implosive (articulated on the ingressive airstream), retroflex (formed with the tongue curled backward and touching the roof of the mouth), and uvular (pronounced with the back of the tongue raised against the uvula).

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