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A Grammar of Hamar


  Contact person
Sara PETROLLINO

Scientific framework and objectives

Hamar is spoken in the lower valley of the Omo river, South West Ethiopia, by approximately 59,000 people. It is one of the most interesting languages in Africa as far as language classification is concerned. It is the major language of South Omotic, which itself is an enigma of comparative African linguistics. It remains unsolved whether South Omotic belongs to the Afro-Asiatic or Nilo-Saharan phylum or whether it constitutes a separate unrelated phylum itself. The present doctoral research project started in 2012. It is co-supervized by Gérard Philippson (DDL) and Maarten Mous (University of Leiden) and funded by LABEX ASLAN. Its main goal is to provide a detailed analytical study of Hamar phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and discourse-related features. In view of the historical interest, the grammatical description will be accompanied by an extensive Hamar-English, English-Hamar lexicon. A detailed grammar of Hamar will not only contribute to the reassessment of South Omotic within the stammbaum, but will also provide valuable typological insights: an initial perusal of the language’s structures has shown, inter alia, a rare and interesting association of masculine gender with diminution while the usual association is with augmentation. The reference grammar of Hamar will be based on extensive fieldwork sessions using elicitation built on natural language data.


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