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The Genealogical Position of Tigre and the Problem of North Ethio-Semitic Unity

Seiten 273 - 302

DOI https://doi.org/10.13173/zeitdeutmorggese.160.2.0273

The present contribution discusses the relationship between Tigre and other Ethio-Semitic languages. The necessity of updating and reassessing Robert Hetzron's classification of Ethio-Semitic languages has been recently emphasized by Rainer Voigt. A close consideration of the available linguistic evidence shows that the reconstruction of the development of Ethio-Semitic languages as proposed by Hetzron can indeed be substantially revised. Using Hetzron's method of shared morphological innovations, the authors come to the following conclusion (implicit already in some of Hetzron's works on the subject): Tigre, Geez and Tigrinya do not constitute any special genealogical unity, but are to be treated as closely related idioms whose similarities are to be explained either by their general conservatism or by geographic proximity. Furthermore, a few fundamental isoglosses in the field of the verbal morphology are considered, some of them opposing Tigre to the rest of Ethio-Semitic and thus suggesting that this language was the first to split from the common Ethio-Semitic stock. Conflicting evidence, pointing to a special genealogical proximity between Tigre and the rest of modern Ethio-Semitic as opposed to Geez, is also carefully analyzed.

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