A Grammar of Goemai by Birgit Hellwig

By Birgit Hellwig

This is the 1st description of Goemai, a West Chadic language of Nigeria. Goemai is spoken in a language touch sector, and this touch has formed Goemai grammar to the level that it may be thought of a pretty untypical Chadic language. The grammar offers the constitution of the present-day language, relates it to its diachronic resources, and provides a semantic point of view to the description.

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In particular, it has developed a number of morphologically-unmarked constructions that allow for the co-occurrence of lexical items and that convey specific grammatical meanings. In all cases, there is evidence that these meanings do not derive directly from the individual meanings of the co-occurring items, but rather from the construction as a whole. 2 These very general semantic and formal characteristics underlie the following pervasive patterns: A large part of Goemai grammar obligatorily makes use of a contrastive set of five postural-based elements: locative, presentative, serial verb, progressive, ascriptive and demonstrative constructions.

These languages mark fortis consonants through lengthening and affrication. Gerhardt (1980) convincingly analyzes this opposition as a language-internal development, resulting from the loss of palatal noun class prefixes and verbal extensions. It is unlikely that this fortis I lenis contrast is related in any way to the aspirated I non-aspirated contrast in Goemai. Pawlak (2002: 56) notes that the variety of Rausa spoken on and around the Jos Plateau tends to replace the glottalized consonants with non-glottalized consonants.

Unlike long vowels). Notice that short [o] and [e] are not attested in medial position otherwise; their occurrence in diphthongs probably results from an assimilation in vowel height (of [o] and [a] to [u] and [i] respectively). , a velar), but long elsewhere. Table 16. zwam bo:i ttH middle-sized calabash Goemai jackal cowrie shell yet 16. 1 for the development of palatal fricatives). Such an origin would explain why [o] is realized short, contrary to the expectation that a mid back vowel should be realized long preceding /m/.

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