‘Khoisan’ sibling terminologies in historical perspective: A combined anthropological, linguistic and phylogenetic comparative approach

Gertrud Boden, Tom Güldemann, Fiona M Jordan

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Abstract

This paper combines regional anthropological comparison, historical linguistics
and phylogenetic comparative methodology (PCM) concerning the analysis of sibling terminology in order to address the historical relationships between
the languages of the three South African Khoisan families, Kx’a, Tuu and Khoe-Kwadi. We look first at the ways how siblings are grouped into kin classes
and secondly how sibling terms as lexical items are linguistically related in and
between these families. Their demonstrable internal linguistic relationships imply original family-specific sibling terminologies with relevant lexemes as part
of the proto-languages used within a social culture of the proto-societies (cf.
Murdock 1949: 346f.; Elmendorf 1961: 365; Jordan 2011: 299). Our hypotheses
for proto-terminologies, contact scenarios and trajectories of change are finally
submitted to PCM probability tests. By trying to detect signals of genealogical
or contact relationships we hope to contribute to the reconstruction of pre-historical processes in the Kalahari Basin, including testing hypotheses found in
the previous literature, among them the claim about a deep structural unity of
Khoisan kinship systems.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeyond 'Khoisan'
Subtitle of host publicationHistorical relations in the Kalahari Basin
EditorsTom Güldemann, Anne-Marie Fehn
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Pages67-100
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9789027269928
ISBN (Print)9789027248497
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2014

Publication series

NameCurrent Issues in Linguistic Theory
Volume330
ISSN (Print)0304-0763

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