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Mushere, a Chadic Language of Five Level Tones

Pages 297 - 307



Chadic languages which form the most southwestern family of the Hamitosemitic/Afroasiatic phylum are spread over northern Nigeria, Cameroon and the central Chad Republic. Mushere, one of them, displays the typical binary verbal aspect system which, however, is here no longer marked by ablaut (apophony)—as for example in Akkadian -prus versus -parras—but by ‘abton’ (‘apotony’), i. e. by an opposition of tone levels. Morphophonological needs may have led Mushere to develop two more levels (half-low and half-high) in addition to the three basic ones (high, mid and low), which brings the total number to five; a tonological situation which is probably unique among the approximately 150 languages of the Chadic family.

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