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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 zone, and this touch has formed Goemai grammar to the level that it may be thought of a pretty untypical Chadic language. The grammar provides the constitution of the present-day language, relates it to its diachronic resources, and provides a semantic viewpoint to the description.

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Newman and Ma Newman 1966). Table 4. ) voiced prenasalized voiced {nb, nd, nj, ng; nv, nz} {b, d,j, g; v, z} implosive {6, cf, 9} implosive {6, cf, 9} voiced {b, d, g; v, z, 3} implosive {6,d} If the diachronic scenario depicted in table (4) is true, then Goemai has retained contrasts that were neutralized in closely related languages, thereby making Goemai of special importance for the reconstruction of Proto-Chadic. However, there is an alternative scenario suggesting that the contrasts found within Goemai result from independent developments (Takacs 2004: xxiii-xxiv).

In Goemai, labialization and palatalization are mutually exclusive, but prenasalization can co-occur with either of them. Since it was not always possible to find minimal pairs exemplifying all four oppositions, some of the words in table (9) simultaneously illustrate labialization I palatalization and prenasalization. Notice that there are some systematic gaps in the table (marked "-") and that labialization is sometimes realized as [w] and sometimes as [H]. Most gaps result from the diachronic process summarized in table (5) above: alveolar palatalized fricatives developed into palatal fricatives (thus accounting for the gap in the alveolar fricatives), and the new palatal fricatives cannot be palatalized again, nor can they be labialized since palatalization and labialization are mutually exclusive (thus accounting for the gap in the palatal fricatives).

Nph'daf 'always')- given that they occur in the same contexts as the analyzable forms, it is possible to assume that they also originated by the same processes. Third, prenasalization is found with many nouns denoting insects, birds and fish. , (nb;W -lh

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