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On the Internal Classification of Ethiosemitic

Pages 93 - 124


The interrelation and internal classification of Ethiosemitic languages is still a controversial matter. Recently, Hudson (2013) proposed a new classification of Ethiosemitic by adjusting Hetzron's (1972) canonical model through lexicostatistics. Although Hudson (2013) is a promising and timely attempt to the internal classification of Ethiosemitic, it contains several methodological drawbacks that make its conclusions unreliable. The present paper won't present another classification, but critically reflects on three central methodological issues in Hudson's lexicostatistic analysis, which I consider to be of general interest for further studies on the genetic classification of Ethiosemitic, namely (i) the inconclusiveness of mutual intelligibility as a criteria to distinguish between dialect and language, (ii) common pitfalls in the composition of a wordlist used for lexicostatistic comparison, and (iii) imprecise cognacy judgments.


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