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Endangered Languages Digital Archive

The Endangered Languages Digital Archive is maintained by the San and Khoi Unit at the University of Cape Town. The research unit is the result of a partnership between UCT, traditional San and Khoe leadership structures and non-governmental and civic organisations. The archive aims to be a central resource for all extant material related to San and Khoe languages (Khoe-Kwadi, Kx'a and Tuu language families).



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In this paper I draw on my findings and those of historical and recent Khoisan ethnography to attempt to explain how these southern African ‘Khoi’ and San peoples relate to wind and how the environmental phenomenon has informed their epistemology and ontology. I begin by fleshing out the knowledge and experience of wind among these past and recent hunter-gatherers and, pointing to continuity in wind relationships and the ideas that stem from them, I go on to demonstrate how wind weaves into...
Topics: Khoisan (African people)-Customs and beliefs, Winds-Religious aspects, Nature, healing power of,...
Click consonants are one of the hallmarks of “Khoisan” languages of southern Africa. They are also found in some Bantu languages, where they are usually assumed to have been copied from Khoisan languages. We review the southern African Bantu languages with clicks and discuss in what way they may have obtained these unusual consonants. We draw on both linguistic data and genetic results to gain insights into the sociocultural processes that may have played a role in the prehistoric contact....
Topics: Clicks (Phonology), Khoisan languages-Clicks
In this article, I firstly trace Van der Kemp’s link to the British anti-slavery network. Secondly, and following my exposition of Van der Kemp’s anti-slavery advocacy (cf. Smit 2016), I argue that the position and treatment of the Khoi should be seen as similar to that of slaves during the first half of the eighteenth century at the Cape. This provides credence to Van der Kemp’s (and Philip’s) vehement criticism of both government and frontier settler farmers for their treatment of the...
Topics: Slavery-South Africa, Christian missionaries, Civil rights-History-South Africa, Antislavery...
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
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This work written in French explores Nama grammar.
Topics: Nama language-Grammar, Languages and language-Grammar, Khoisan languages
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Schapera, Isaac, 1905-2003
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This book deals with those two groups of natives in South Africa who have suffered most at the hands of the European settlers: the Bushmen and the Hottentots. The first part describes the country, history and physical characteristics of the Khoisan, the generic name used for the Bushmen and the Hottentots. The main part is devoted to a description of the respective cultures of the Bushmen and the Hottentots, including their social organization, social habits and customs, economic and political...
Topics: Khoisan (African people)-Social life and customs, San (African people)-Social life and customs,...
The Khoisan’s /ʹkɔısɑ:n/ approach to culture is a holistic one. Over thousands of years they have cultivated an integrated life-style, undergirded by socio-religious values. In a sense it is therefore artificial to discuss separate cultural issues as if they are silos in the life of this indigenous nation. However, the erosion of their cultural heritage occurred systematically during protracted colonial and neo-colonial eras which allows for a focused approach. Some cultural strands...
Topics: Khoikhoi (African people)-History, Khoisan (African people)-History, History-South Africa, Group...
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Bleek, W. H. I. (Wilhelm Heinrich Immanuel), 1827-1875
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A collection of stories collected by William Bleek and his sister-in-law Lucy Lloyd. They undertook a project of documenting as much as they could of a culture close to extinction. This book is a contribution to that project.
Topics: San (African people), Folklore-South Africa, San (African people)-Languages, Folk literature
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Shah, Sheena; Brenzinger, Matthias
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Three sisters living near Upington in the Northern Cape province of South Africa are the last fluent speakers of Nǀuu. Linguists from the Centre for African Language Diversity (CALDi) at UCT produced an illustrated 160 page trilingual Nǀuu-Afrikaans-English reader in collaboration with community members to support revitalisation efforts of this highly endangered language. The hard copies of the reader are used in the Nǀuu language classes conducted by Ouma Geelmeid, the youngest of the three...
Topics: Language revitalisation, Language teaching material, Komani language
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Wittenberg, Hermann
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This article puts forward a revisionist history of Khoi literature, and also presents a number of translated Khoi narratives that have not been available in English before. Compared to the large volume of Bushman literature and scholarship, there has been very little Khoi literature and engagement with it, and an argument is presented to account for this gap in South African cultural history. Until now, the major source of Khoi literature was Wilhelm Bleek’s Reynard the Fox in South Africa...
Topics: Khoi (African people) literature-History, Language and culture-South Africa
A Nama-German Dictionary
Topic: Nama language-Dictionary
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Barnard, Alan
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The Bushman' is a perennial but changing image. The transformation of that image is important. It symbolizes the perception of Bushman or San society, of the ideas and values of ethnographers who have worked with Bushman peoples, and those of other anthropologists who use this work. Anthropology and the Bushman covers early travelers and settlers, classic nineteenth and twentieth-century ethnographers, North American and Japanese ecological traditions, the approaches of African ethnographers,...
Topics: San (African people)-Kalahari Desert-Social life and customs, San (African people)-Public opinion,...
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Bleek, W. H. I. (Wilhelm Heinrich Immanuel), 1827-1875
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This volume contains a discussion and discriptive matter on the sixteen dialects of South African language as could be found in the land forming part of the British colonial empire. The specific emphasis of the work is on the Suffix-Pronominal Languages of the Hottentot people. The source material informing this volume are the publications and manuscripts that could be found in the library of Sir George Grey, K.C.B.
Topics: Language and languages, Khoisan languages-Phonetics, Khoisan languages-Grammar
The Khoisan people are one of the indigenous peoples of Southern Africa. Botswana has the greatest diversity of these autochthonous communities. As ethnic minorities, they are characterized in the main by small numbers, aboriginality, and necessitousness compared to other ethnic communities who readily engage modern socioeconomic dynamics of the country. They are generally marginalized and their ethnic and social identity is completely eclipsed because in Botswana they are lumped together in...
Topics: Khoisan (African people), Ethnic identity-Botswana, Language policy, Cultural pluralism, Indigenous...
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Nienaber, Gabriel Stefanus, 1903-1994
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In this book Professor Nienaber presents his valuable research on Khoikhoi clan names. It is an accompanying text to another publication entitled "Toponymica Hottentitica" which explores the link between clan names and geographical place names. This particular book explores in greater detail the history of the various Khoikhoi clans who have historically made up this community.
Topics: Khoikhoi (African people)-History, Names, Khoikhoi, Clans-Southern Africa, Names,...
Khoisan languages are spoken by tiny and remote-dwelling communities of Botswana, the members of which are characterised by socio-economic hardships and illiteracy in their own languages and in general. Historically and socially, these people emerged from a life of hunting and gathering, and, in that lifestyle mode, they were easily subdued and exploited by other language communities for cheap and serf labour. Colonialism found them in this social state, and post-colonialism has left them in...
Topics: Endangered languages, Khoisan languages, language policy
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Appleyard, John W. (John Whittle), 1814-1874
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The following work was undertaken, partly to afford assistance in the acquisition of the Kafir language, and partly to encourage and stimulate inquiry in reference to South African dialects in general.
Topics: Language and languages, Khoisan languages-History, Khoisan languages-Grammar, Linguistics
This doctoral thesis presents a description of Sandawe, a Khoisan language spoken by approximately 60 000 speakers in Dodoma Region, Tanzania. The study presents an analysis of the phonology, morphology, and syntax of the language, as well as a sample of four texts. The data for this dissertation were gathered by the author during fieldwork in the area where the language is spoken. The language has a rich phonology, with sets of lateral fricatives and affricates, ejectives, and fifteen clicks....
Topics: Khoisan (African people) -Tanzania, Khoisan languages, Phonology, Grammar
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
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The Afrikaans word ghoen (‘a shooting-marble’) arose in a setting wherein Malay, Khoekhoe, and Dutch were spoken and in which children played and shared vocabulary. Given the similarity of meaning and sound shape among Malay gundu (‘a marble’), Khoekhoe !gon (‘to throw something on the ground’), and dialectal Dutch koen (‘a shooting-marble’), I propose that these semantically and phonetically similar etyma merged into the word ghoen through a process, here referred to as lexical...
Topics: Language and languages, Afrikaans-Etymology, Afrikaans-Lexicology, Languages, mixed-South Africa,...
The Khoisan people from Southern Africa maintained ancient lifestyles as hunter-gatherers or pastoralists up to modern times, though little else is known about their early history. Here we infer early demographic histories of modern humans using whole-genome sequences of five Khoisan individuals and one Bantu speaker. Comparison with a 420 K SNP data set from worldwide individuals demonstrates that two of the Khoisan genomes from the Ju/’hoansi population contain exclusive Khoisan ancestry....
Topics: Human genetics- Africa, !Kung (African people)-Genetic aspects, Khoisan (African people)-Genetic...
This article explores Khoisan representation in museums exhibits.
Topics: Museum exhibits-Southern Africa, Khoisan (African people), Identity politics
In 1873, J.M. Orpen obtained the services of a San guide named Qing. As they travelled through the Maluti mountains, Orpen copied rock paintings and Qing explained what they meant. This article Orpen's recounting of this experience.
Topics: Mythology-Khoisan (African people), Art-Khoisan (African people)
Peoples speaking so-called Khoisan languages-that is, indigenous languages of southern Africa that do not belong to the Bantu family-are culturally and linguistically diverse. They comprise herders, hunter-gatherers as well as groups of mixed modes of subsistence, and their languages are classified into three distinct language families. This cultural and linguistic variation is mirrored by extensive genetic diversity. We here review the recent genomics literature and discuss the genetic...
Topics: Index Medicus, Life Sciences, Biological anthropology, Genetics Humanities and Social Sciences,...
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
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This translated work is from the perspective of French missionaries. It is a narrative of the two authors, Reverend Arbousset and Reverend Daumas, exploratory tour of the north east of the Cape of Good Hope. The aim of the documented missionary tour was to seek out unknown tribes, to open communication channel with the chiefs of these tribes and to formulate missionary plans in order to extend the influence of Christianity and the missionaries civilisation.
Topics: South Africa-Description and travel-19th Century, Missions-Anthropological aspects-South...
This thesis focus on some of the revival processes of the Korana identity linked to indigeneity as opposed to traditional leadership as espoused by the Bill on traditional leadership. It concludes that Chapter 12, of the Constitution of South Africa of 1996, which recognise the role of traditional leaders in society is being challenged by the re-entering of groups like the Korana and others claiming recognition on their status as indigenous people.
Topics: Group identity-Korana (African people), Cultural property-Korana (African people), Identity...
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Orpen, J. M. (Joseph Millerd), 1828-1923
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In 1873, J.M. Orpen obtained the services of a San guide named Qing. As they travelled through the Maluti mountains, Orpen copied rock paintings and Qing explained what they meant. This article Orpen's recounting of this expereince.
Topics: Mythology-Khoisan (African people), Art-Khoisan (African people)
The study demonstrates for the first time the probable genetic unity of the KHOE, JU and UJ -T AA groups of southern African Khoesan, by means of the first full-scale application of a conventional comparative approach. It is shown in the first stage that there are repeated cross-SAK resemblances in the morphology of those verbs most frequently enlisted for grammatical purposes in the context of multi-verb constructions; and that these languages furthermore display multiple similarities...
Topics: Khoisan languages, Linguistics
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Werner, Alice
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An analysis of the San rock paintings with commentary on the work of other scholars in the subject area.
Topics: San (African people)-Art, Cave paintings, Gnu (Wildebeest)-Art, Bas relief-South Africa
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
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I propose that the notions of segment and phoneme be enriched to allow some concurrent clustering, even in classical theories. My main application is the Khoisan language !Xóõ, where treating clicks as phonemes concurrent with phonemic accompaniments allows the inventory size to be radically reduced, so solving the problems of many unsupported contrasts. I show also how phonological processes of !Xóõ can be described more elegantly in this setting, with support from metalinguistic evidence...
Topics: Khoisan languages-Clicks, Clicks (Phonetics)
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
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Numerous place names in southern Africa reveal cultural and language contact between Bushmen (San), Khoikhoi, Bantu and European language speakers over many thousands of years. These toponyms reflect the diversity of languages that had an influence on words and common names used by local people speaking different languages. Many of these place names are complex and their origins and meanings can only be explained by tracing onymic (naming) formatives in components from cognate words appearing...
Topics: Names, Geographical-Africa, Southern-Etymology, Animals-Nomenclature, Toponymy
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Eiseb, E.; Giess, W.; Haacke, Wilfred Heinrich Gerard
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The following plant names have been extracted from the Nama Dictionary, which is presently being compiled by W. Haacke and E. Eiseb at the University of Namibia. The project commenced in 1981 and has been completed approximately 80%. W. Giess has been so kind as to identify most of the botanical samples that have been collected, with the exception of a few that were identified by M.A.N. Muller of the State Herbarium. The compilers express their gratitude to these botanists for their...
Topics: Plant Names, Nama language
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
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This article puts forward a revisionist history of Khoi literature, and also presents a number of translated Khoi narratives that have not been available in English before. Compared to the large volume of Bushman literature and scholarship, there has been very little Khoi literature and engagement with it, and an argument is presented to account for this gap in South African cultural history. Until now, the major source of Khoi literature was Wilhelm Bleek’s Reynard the Fox in South Africa...
Topics: Khoi (African people) literature-History, Language and culture-South Africa
Although the San in Namibia have been targeted by intensive development efforts, there is little knowledge available about San diet quality and nutritional status. The objective of this study is therefore to estimate and quantify the dietary diversity of a San group, and to investigate how socioeconomic characteristics affect dietary diversity. The dietary data (n = 200) for this cross-sectional study were collected as a part of a larger doctoral research investigating food environment, food...
Topics: Kxoe (San people)-Nutrition, San (African people)-Social conditions
Volume 2 describes events related to the Hottentots and Bosjemans.
Topics: Khoisan (African people), Autobiography-Sutherland, John, South Africa-History
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Bleek, W. H. I. (Wilhelm Heinrich Immanuel), 1827-1875
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It is the object of this work to give a comparative view of the structure of the languages spoken in Africa to the South of the Equator, as far as we are yet acquainted with them . These languages arc, according to their structure and origin, divided into three classes. As representatives of these three classes we may name the languages of the Kafir, the Hottentot, and the Bushman.
Topics: Language and languages, Khoisan languages-Phonetics, Khoisan languages-Classification, Linguistics
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Hahn, Theophilus, 1842-1905
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An ethnography of the Khoikhoi people, their language and religous beliefs. At the time, the author through this and his other work contributed to the "westerners" understanding of the Khoi and San people.
Topics: Khoisan languages, Khoikhoi language, Khoikhoi (African people)-Religion, Khoikhoi (African...
The centuries-old southern African dance form called rieldans (reel dance), or simply riel (reel), is believed to have emerged from Khoe-San dances. It is characterised by its distinctive footwork, animal mimicry, and courtship displays. In the post-apartheid, postcolonial South African context, the riel has emerged as symbol of indigeneity through largescale public performance of Khoe-San heritage. Despite colonial influences, it represents an historical link to the Khoe-San people for its...
Topics: Music-South Africa, Music-Etymology, Khoisan (African people)-Social life and customs,...
Volume 1 describes the general condition of the Aborigines on the first arrival of the Europeans among them with some comparison of their condition with the condition of other Aborigine people in our parts of the world. It also describes events related to the Kaffer people.
Topics: Khoisan (African people), Autobiography-Sutherland, John, South Africa-History
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
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A Grammar and Vocabulary of the Namaqua-Hottentot Language
Topics: Khoikhoi language-Orthography and spelling, Language and languages, Linguistics
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Haacke, Wilfred Heinrich Gerard; Snyman, W. Jan
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Th paper examines a corpus of some 1 130 Xri concepts collected by Jan Snyman (UNISA) in the early 1970s. This collection is by far the largest corpus of vocabulary of self-declared "Griekwa" speakers available, and is unlikely to be surpassed infuture, as the language is moribund. 1096 concepts of this Xri corpus are compared dialectometrically to the equivalents in Namibian Khoekhoegowab (Khoekhoe, formerly “Nama/Damara”).
Topics: Griquas, Khoisan (African people), Khoikhoi language, Clicks (Phonetics), Khoisan languages-Clicks
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
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This essay will examine some of the early religious, political, and economic 'uses' made of mission Christianity by the descendants of the old Khoikhoi communities of the Cape, and those who came to be associated with them, ultimately subsumed under the rubric 'coloured'. Essentially, I want to know why some people converted, why others found mission stations a useful base even if they did not themselves convert, and how Christianity interacted with older beliefs.
Topics: Christianity-Missions, Khoikhoi (African people)-Missions, Khoisan (African people)-Social life and...
In this article, I firstly trace Van der Kemp’s link to the British anti-slavery network. Secondly, and following my exposition of Van der Kemp’s anti-slavery advocacy (cf. Smit 2016), I argue that the position and treatment of the Khoi should be seen as similar to that of slaves during the first half of the eighteenth century at the Cape. This provides credence to Van der Kemp’s (and Philip’s) vehement criticism of both government and frontier settler farmers for their treatment of the...
Topics: Slavery-South Africa, Christian missionaries, Civil rights-History-South Africa, Antislavery...
The thesis explores the relationship of contemporary Namibian Khoisan healing practice and ideas, to a history of Khoisan healing from an indeterminable pre-colonial past to the present. My focus is one principally of ideas and understanding as opposed to practice, because of a perceived need to highlight, and to some extent attempt to redress, a very partial historical and contemporary literature on Khoisan healing.
Topics: Khoisan (African people)-Social life and customs, Healing-Religious aspects, Trance-Religious...
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Bleek, W.H.I (Wilhelm Heinrich Immanuel), 1827 - 1875
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The present volume only elucidates one part of that grand system of Concord which is the fundamental principle of the Pronominal languages.
Topics: Language and languages, Khoisan languages, Grammar
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Bleek, D. F. (Dorothea Frances)
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This book contains approximately 15,000 Bushman-English entries as well as an English-Bushman index.
Topics: Khoisan languages-Dictionary, Dictionary-Khoisan languages
In 1864 Wilhelm Bleek published a collection of Khoi narratives titled Reynard the Fox in South Africa, or Hottentot Fables and Tales. This paper critically examines this foundational event in South African literary history, arguing that it entailed a Victorian circumscription of the Khoisan imagination, containing its libidinal and transgressive energies within the generic limits of the naïve European children’s folktale. Bleek’s theories of language and race are examined as providing the...
Topics: Group identity-Khoikhoi (African people), Group identity-Khoisan (African people), South...
The San and Khoe people currently represent remnant groups of a much larger and widely distributed population of hunter-gatherers and pastoralists who had exclusive occupation of southern Africa before the arrival of Bantu-speaking groups in the past 1,200 years and sea-borne immigrants within the last 350 years. Genetic studies [mitochondrial deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and Y-chromosome] conducted on San and Khoe groups revealed that they harbor some of the most divergent lineages found in...
Topics: Ethnology, African, Southern, Genetics- Africa, Southern, San (African people), Khoikhoi (African...
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
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The present article instantiates types of lexical borrowing from Afrikaans and Dutch in Namibian Khoekhoegowab (also known as “Nama”/“Damara”), but occasionally also refers to borrowings in the opposite direction. Where evidence allows, loans are traced back beyond Afrikaans to the era of Cape Dutch and contemporary interethnic contacts. Various categories ranging from adoptions to phonologically integrated loans, hybrids and calques are presented and, where possible, historical...
Topics: Nama Langauge, Phonetics, Language and languages
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Cape of Good Hope (Colony) Commision of Native Laws and Customs
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In 1880 a commision was established to devise a governance structure for the management of the Aboriginal population found in the British colony of South Africa. The purpose of this report presented in 1883 was to suggest a code of civil and criminal law suited to the conditions found within the colony. The report contains the details and evidence required to establish such a structure. The commision's scope was the governance of the Aboriginal people in general in practice they focussed their...
Topics: History-South Africa, Great Britain-Colonies-Administration, Law-Great Britain-Colonies, Customary...
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Boyce, William B. (William Binnington), 1803-1889; Davis, William J
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When the Rev. William J. Davis was about to visit England in the year 1839, he was requested to super intend the printing and publication of a new edition of the Rev. William Boyce's Kaffir Grammar. That office of friendship he performed in a manner highly creditable to himself, and introduced, in various portions of the work, some important improvements; which would have been still more ample, had not his brief sojourn in this country prevented the completion of his wishes. After his return to...
Topics: Language and languages, Khoisan languages-History, Khoisan languages-Grammar, Linguistics
This paper focuses on the imagery of state and nation in post-apartheid South Africa, and more specifically on the use of ‘Bushmen’ or ‘San’ in the symbolic reconstruction of national unity through South Africa’s new motto and Coat of Arms. The Coat of Arms is based on a redrawing of a figure from rock art, while the motto !Ke e: /xarra //ke (officially translated ‘Diverse people unite’) comes from the extinct /Xam language once spoken in the Northern Cape. The choice of the...
Topics: Khoisan (African people), South African Coat of Arms, /Xam language, Nationalism-South Africa,...
Endangered Languages Digital Archive
by Haacke, Wilfred Heinrich Gerard
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This thesis investigates the tonal system of Khoekhoegowab or Khoekhoe, a Central Khoesaan language spoken in Namibia, and formerly known as Nama/Damara. The data for the research, particularly on lexical tonology, is drawn from a lexicographic project which was instituted by the author in 1981. Observations are based on a total perusal of the near-complete database by means of computer. Chapter 2, following on an introductory chapter, presents an instrumental analysis of the surface tone of...
Topics: Nama language-Tone, Khoisan languages, Linguistics