The lexical database for Chadic languages and some problems of interlingual borrowings
Olga Stolbova (Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow),
Journal of Language Relationship, № 7, 2012 - p.105-118
The Chadic branch of the Hamito-Semitic (Afrasian) macrofamily includes about 150 unwritten languages of Nigeria and Cameroun. Over the course of the past 4,000—6,000 years Chadic languages have been exposed to influence from various Nilo-Saharan and Niger-Congo languages, which resulted in a great degree of linguistic interlacing. The linguistic influence of dominant languages (Kanuri, Bagirmi, Fulfulde, etc.) on Chadic ones is generally recognized as responsible for the typical direction of borrowings: from donor languages into Chadic. The present paper takes into consideration some of the most characteristic mistakes that result from this approach. In order to identify loanwords, it is suggested, on one hand, that a proper etymology of the hypothetical source word be presented; on the other hand, one should also be sure that the hypothetical loanword has no etymology of its own (or ‘historical background’, as it is called in the «Loanword Typology Project»). In other words, research on historical phonology and lexicon within the framework of both families should precede the identification of borrowings.
Keywords: Chadic languages, African languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Niger-Congo languages, loanwords, borrowing, etymology, lexicon, phonology