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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/4095

Advisors: Prof. Bernd Heine
Copyright: Oct-2000
Date Added: 28-Nov-2012
Publisher: AAU
Abstract: This study is about the sociolinguistic and grammatical description of Kemantney, an endangered Ethiopian language on the verge of extinction. To describe the replacement process of Kemantney by Amharic, three vantage points are discussed in some detail. These are: the sociolinguistic analysis of the speech behaviour of the last generation of speakers, the historical analysis of the external setting and, finally the grammatical description of the structural consequences. The sociolinguistic analysis reveals the high functional reduction of Kemantney. It is used only in rituals and secret talks. Amharic is used for other purposes. Kemantney speakers have a native command of in and a positive attitude towards Amharic, the replacing language, for practical reasons. Their proficiency in Kemantney is bound to age, place of birth and residence, and religious affiliation. The young generation has developed a negative attitude towards Kemantney. The denial of knowledge of Kemantney and of their identity as Kemant is commonly observed among adults. In general, there is a shift of linguistic identity accompanied by a shift of social identity. The historical analysis of the external setting reveals the political, economic and cultural factors which have contributed to the obsolescence of Kemantney. Among these, the geographical location, the long-standing history of contact and peaceful co-existence with the Amhara, the derogatory implication of the name Kemant, intermarriage, and the speared of schools and administrative structures, are the major causes. The immediate cause is, however, the mass conversion of the Kemant people to Orthodox Christianity. Diachronically, the language has gone through both radical and gradual death processes and has ended up with a bottom-to-top type of obsolescence. The lexical and grammatical description of Kemantney reveals that the language has still maintained its Agew - Cushitic features. And yet, striking reductions and simplifications are exhibited in its structure which is attributable to either contact-induced change or language decay. There is a good deal of lexical transfer from Amharic to Kemantney through borrowing. Stem borrowing is common in verbs. The hierarchy of borrowing is: Nouns - Adjectives - Verbs - Adverbs - and finally Postpositions. Frequently occurring and structurally less complex words are more remembered. There is a tendency of replacing sounds typical to Kemantney by related sounds from Amharic. Morphemic borrowing and the borrowing of discourse elements are found. The proficiency continuum ranges from fully competent speakers to remembers of words and isolated phrases.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/4095
Appears in:Thesis - Linguistics

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