Article published in:Beyond ‘Khoisan’: Historical relations in the Kalahari Basin
Edited by Tom Güldemann and Anne-Maria Fehn
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 330] 2014
► pp. 69–102
‘Khoisan’ sibling terminologies in historical perspective
A combined anthropological, linguistic and phylogenetic comparative approach
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.
Published online: 29 August 2014