Language Death in Mesmes: A Sociolinguistic and Historical-Comparative Examination of a Disappearing Ethiopian-Semitic Language

Statement of Responsibility:
Ahland, Michael Bryan
Series Issue:
SIL International and The University of Texas at Arlington
Publisher Place:
Dallas, TX
Part Of Series:
SIL International and The University of Texas at Arlington Publications in Linguistics 145
xi, 142 pages
Publication Status:
Table of Contents:

List of Maps
List of Figures
List of Tables

  1. Introduction
  2. 1.1 The Gurage Cluster and Mesmes
    1.2 The Gurage language survey of 2001
    1.3 The Identification of the Lects in the Gurage Cluster
    1.4 Historical Work on the Gurage Varieties
    1.4.1 The Work of Leslau
    1.4.2 The Work of Hetzron
    1.4.3 A New Proposal for Ethio-Semitic Classification
    1.5 The Debate over the Semitic Homeland
    1.6 Previous Research on Mesmes
    1.6.1 The Work of Bender: The Wordlist, Lexicostatistics, and Grammatical Paradigms
    1.6.2 Hetzron on Mesmes

  3. Establishing the Socio-Historical Context
  4. 2.1 The Importance of the Social Setting
    2.2 The Gurage–Hadiyya Contact Situation
    2.3 The Recent History and Current Status of Mesmes
    2.3.1 An Interview with the Terminal Speaker
    2.3.2 The Shift to Hadiyya and the Death of Mesmes
    2.3.3 The Maintenance of Identity Across Language Death

  5. The Implications of Language Death
  6. 3.1 The Reliability Question
    3.1.1 The Challenge of a Terminal Speaker
    3.2 An Evaluation of the Reliability of the Mesmes Data
    3.2.1 The Reliability of the Mesmes Wordlist
    3.2.2 The Reliability of the Mesmes Text
    3.3 Linguistic Implications
    3.3.1 Externally Induced Changes
    3.3.2 Internally Induced Changes
    3.3.3 Reduction and Replacement Trends in Language Contact
    3.4 The Modes of Language Death
    3.5 The “Later Loss” Hypothesis and “Rusty Speakers”
    3.6 An Examination of the Mesmes Text in Light of the Linguistic Implications
    3.6.1 Possible Examples of the Impact of Language Death in the Mesmes Text
    3.6.2 Evidence of Maintenance of Inherited Structure in Mesmes

  7. The Genetic Position of Mesmes
  8. 4.1 The Establishment of Mesmes as a Gurage Language
    4.1.1 The Ethnonym as Evidence of Guragoid Placement
    4.1.2 The Main Verb Marker Retention Attesting to a Genetic Link with Gurage
    4.1.3 Morpho-Syntactic Evidence of Guragoid Relationship
    4.1.4 Lexical Evidence of Close Relationship with PWG
    4.2 Shared Innovations Linking Mesmes with PWG
    4.2.1 Innovations in the Pronominal Paradigm
    4.2.2 Markedness Reversal and the Beginnings of an Obstruent Chain Shift
    4.2.3 An Examination of the Systematicity of Relative Chronology in the Mesmes Data
    4.2.4 Additional Links Between Mesmes and PWG Weakening of the Bilabial Nasal and the Genesis of the Non-Etymological /n/ Relevant Vocalic Length Other Vocalic Changes in Mesmes Pharyngeal Archaisms and Systematic Metathesis

  9. Evidence of Contact-Induced Change in the Mesmes Data
  10. 5.1 The Nature of Externally-Induced Change
    5.2 Loanwords in the Mesmes Wordlist
    5.3 Paradigmatic Leveling in Mesmes
    5.4 The Mesmes Final Vocalism
    5.5 Vocalic Phenomena in Mesmes
    5.6 Possible Syntactic Change as a Result of Contact
    5.7 Cushitic Stop-Attacks in Endegeny and Mesmes

  11. Conclusion
  12. 6.1 Subgrouping Internal to PWG
    6.2 Unerscoring the Holistic Approach


A Peripheral West Gurage Wordlist Comparison with Mesmes
B Mesmes, Hadiyya and Kambaata Comparison
C The Mesmes Text
D Notes on the Analysis of the Mesmes Text
E Gurage language survey Map with Principal Towns


Subject Languages:
Content Language:
Work Type:
Language death
Comparative and historical studies
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