Qimant language

The Qimant language is a highly endangered language spoken by a small and elderly fraction of the Qemant people in Northern Ethiopia mainly in Chilga Woreda in Semien Gondar Zone between Gondar and Metemma.

language
name=Qimant
nativename=Kemantney
familycolor=Afro-Asiatic
states=Ethiopia
region=Amhara Region
speakers=1650 (1994 Census)
rank=Statistics
fam1=Afro-Asiatic
fam2=Cushitic
fam3=Central
fam4=Western
iso1=none
iso2b=cus
iso3=ahg

Classification

The language belongs to the western subsection of the Agaw or Central Cushitic languages [Zelealem 2003, p. 30] . Other (extinct) members of this subsection are Qwara and Kayla. With all other Cushitic languages Qimant belongs to the phylum of the Afro-Asiatic languages.


=Geographic distribution and sociolinguistic situation=

Qimant is the original language of the Qemant people of Semien Gondar Zone in Ethiopia. Although the ethnic population of the Qemant was 172,327 at the 1994 census, only a very small fraction of these speak the language nowadays. All speakers live either in Chilga woreda or in Lay Armachiho woreda [see map in Zelealem 2003, p. 31] . The number of first-language speakers is 1625, the number of second language speakers 3450 [Zelealem 2003, p. 62] . All speakers of the language are older than 30 years, and more than 75% are older than 50 years [Zelealem 2003, p. 63] . The language is no longer passed on to the next generation of speakers. Most ethnic Qemant people speak Amharic. Qimant is not spoken in public or even at home as a means of daily communication any more, but is reduced to a secret code [Zelealem 2003, p. 75] .

Dialects/Varieties

It is not clear to what extent Kayla, Qwara and Qimant have been dialects of the same Western Agaw language, or were languages distinct from each other.

Phonology

Consonants

Continuants can be geminated word-medially.

Vowels

Phonotactics

The maximum syllable structure in Qimant is CVC, which implies that consonant clusters are only allowed word-medially [Zelealem 2003, p. 160f] . In loanwords from Amharic there may also be consonant-clusters within a syllable. Vowel clusters are not allowed.

Phonological processes

Consonant clusters with more than two consonants are broken up by inserting the epenthetic vowel IPA|/ɨ/. Other phonological processes are nasal assimilation and devoicing of IPA|/ɡ/ at word boundaries [Zelealem 2003, p. 164ff] .

Prosody

The prosodic features of Qimant have not been studied yet.

Grammar

Morphology

The personal marking system distinguishes between first person singular and plural, second person singular, polite, and plural, and third person masculine, feminine and plural. On the verb, all inflectional categories are marked by suffixes. Zelealem (2003, p. 192) identifies three different aspect forms in Qimant: Perfective, Imperfective and Progressive. Like in other Central Cushitic languages, the numbers one to nine go back to an ancient quinary system, where the suffix IPA|/-ta/ added to the numbers two to four results in the numbers six to nine [Zelealem 2003, p. 233] .

yntax [Zelealem 2003, p. 252-262]

The basic constituent order in Qimant, like in all other Afro-Asiatic languages of Ethiopia, is SOV. The presence of a case marking system allows for other, more marked orders. In the noun phrase the head noun follows its modifiers. Numbers, however, can also follow the head noun. All kind of subordinate clauses precede the main verb of the sentence.

Vocabulary/Lexis

As a consequence of the looming language death, many items of the vocabulary are already replaced by Amharic words.

References

* Zelealem Leyew. 2003. "The Kemantney Language - A Sociolinguistic and Grammatical Study of Language Replacement". Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
* David L. Appleyard. 1975. "A descriptive outline of Kemant," "Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies" 38:316-350.

Notes

External links

*Ethnologue|code=ahg|label=Qimant


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