A Sociolinguistic Survey Report; Revisiting the Southern Agaw Language Areas of Ethiopia

Statement of Responsibility:
Joswig, Andreas and Hussein Mohammed
In 1971, Roger Wenman Cowley published a short article on “The Kunfal people and their language,” providing some data on a group of people living in the area west of Lake T’ana in Ethiopia. Since then, no further research has been conducted on the people or the language. This report is based on two recent language survey trips to the area reported in Cowley’s article. A vital community was found that matches Cowley’s description, but rejects the name “Kunfäl,” as this is seen as a derogatory name. Their language is a variety of Southern Agaw (or Awngi) which, in pure linguistic terms, could be seen as distinct enough to be counted as a separate language. The speakers insist that their language is the same as Awngi, and they have no difficulty understanding materials produced for that language. Based on this, it is recommended that this variety be treated as a dialect of Awngi. This report also provides comparative data (including a wordlist) between various Awngi dialects and the varieties spoken west of Lake T’ana; also, a map of the Awngi language area based on the results of this study.
26 pages
Language surveys
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