Chadic Newsletter Online

ISSN 1618-7369

Basal language comparison

Posted by useibert on Saturday, January 2, 2010

The following book notice was sent to us by the author, Wolfgang Wegener:

Basalsprachvergleich. Methoden zum Nachweis entfernter Sprachverwandtschaft mit Nachweis semantisch-lautlicher Entsprechungen bezüglich der ursprünglichen Wortbildungsprozesse zwischen dem Indogermanischen und dem Masa-Zweig des Tschadischen (Basal language comparison. Methods to the proof of distant language relationship with the proof of semantic-soundic correspondences relative to the original word-formation  processes between Indo-European and the Masa branch of Chadic)

XV and 327 p., Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag 2008; € 48,-
ISBN 978-3-89645-188-0

In the comparative linguistics book “Basalsprachvergleich”, with a historical aim, entirely new methods of basal (i.e. basis-near) comparison of distantly related languages (language families) are developed. The starting-point is the consideration that a somewhat bigger stock of words (which must then also have comprised somewhat longer words [used in relatively fixed word orders]) has already to precede the development of a more complex grammar (strictly speaking), with, partly, more variable word orders in sentences. Therefore, compound words, as archaic as possible (since longer [and shortened in closely related languages]), and their respective parts from languages, as archaic as possible (since with the longer words mentioned and since with remotely placed spreading areas), on both sides, are, in cases of (very strictly) semantic correspondences, examined for fundamental sound (i.e. sound class) correspondences. The comparison is applied to Indo-European and the group of languages to which Indo-European is recognizably closest (distantly) related, namely the Masa branch of languages (of Chadic).
The morphological analysis of the compound expressions of Indo-European (and, first of all, of the especially archaic Latin) exists far-reaching and, therefore, is taken from the literature. The especially archaic compound words from especially archaic dialects of Masa branch are at first (by consulting parallels from further Masa branch dialects of northern and southern [sub]group) subject to (branch-) internal morphological analysis, before starting the (inter-family) comparison. As especially archaic dialects of Masa branch are consulted, first of all, Lame, dialect of Peve, within southern group, and Banana, dialect of Musey, within northern group (both taken from Ch. H. Kraft), and (for purpose of extended comparison) Lamé, dialect of Hed’e, within southern group (taken from M. Sachnine). As further Masa branch dialects are consulted 4 further dialects (2 of northern, 2 of southern [sub]group) from Ch. H. Kraft, 7 (all of southern [sub]group [i.e. Zime, in a wider sense]) from H. Jungraithmayr and 10 (3 of northern, 7 of southern [sub]group) from A. Shryock (so far as semantic correspondences are available). The comparison makes then possible as well a broader analysis of Masa branch expressions as a finding of different Indo-European roots with, respectively, one probably common (pre-Indo-European) origin (not known, so far) and, thereby, the further analysis of these Indo-European roots.
In the final part of “Basalsprachvergleich”, it is proved that Indo-European is merely more distantly related to other branches of Chadic. This and the probable fact that the other branches of Chadic are closer (distantly) related to other Eurasiatic language families (than to Indo-European) is to explain by the mode of the first settlement of the earth (by the ancestors of the present-day groups of mankind). The Chadic, in this context, is a language family in a wider sense in the case of which separate (related) languages (later branches) developed intensely changing in early phases of language development (by intense borrowings from not narrower related languages), and with subsequently continuous usual borrowings among related languages of the same family (as in other language families also). This is closer examined by the author, in another (not yet published) context.

Although the external comparison of Masa branch goes beyond Chadic, the results of basal language comparison are important for understanding the position of Chadic. For, according to the results, Chadic is a quite especially significant language family in a wider sense as well in the history of language development  as for the history of the first settlement of the earth (by the ancestors of the present-day groups of mankind). In this context Indo-European is basal-lingual (i.e. relative to basis-near elements) closest (distantly) related to Masa branch and merely distinctly more distantly related to other branches of Chadic (to the historical background cf. p. 27-30; to the consequences for the language comparison p. 272-316). In this connection the basal language comparison works with entirely new linguistic methods which were developed with the aim to reconstruct the history of the first settlement of the earth (by the ancestors of the present-day groups of mankind) (to the methods cf. p. 7-26; to their general basis p. 270-272). The history of the first settlement of the earth (by the ancestors of the present-day groups of mankind) is reconstructed to seize the decisive long-term conditions of outstanding developments of arts, sciences and technique in history (cf. p. 1; the, so far, unpublished volume 1 [934 p.] of the “Zeitstrukturtheorie der Geschichte” [Time structure theory of history] of the author is referring to [ca. 100 field-comprehensive] developments of arts [{belletristic] literature, {fine} arts and music], sciences [philosophy, mathematics, physics, chemistry] and technique in written history  [for pragmatical and reasons of sources, first of all, in the modern times of  Southern, Western and Central Europe, and in the antiquity of Greece and Asia]).

The consulted expressions of Masa branch are analyzed at first generally (cf. p. 39-43). They are analyzed then specifically, for the first block of comparison, with regard to all expressions with one of two semantic opposite verbal prefixes, distinctly recognizably in Lame (cf. p. 55-69). Only after this systematic collection, the comparison is undertaken with Indo-European and there specifically, first of all, with Latin which is especially archaic in the basis-near stock of words (cf. p. 70-108 to the first block of comparison). In this context, the (very strictly) semantic correspondences in Latin include, respectively, one of two semantic opposite verbal prefixes, also.
Then the fundamental Latin derivatives of the Indo-European roots, belonging to the compound words and their parts, respectively, and, to these, the very strictly semantic correspondences in Masa branch and there, first of all (since the bigger extent of the stock of words), in Lamé are searched for. The very strictly semantic correspondences are then examined on fundamental sound (sound class) correspondences to Latin.
A case of particular interest, in this context, is, e.g., that in which a first elementary (CV-)syllable with an alveolar sound appears (with merely minor differences of word meaning) in Masa branch, in the position corresponding to the Indo-European s mobile, which occurs word-initially without systematic differences of meaning (cf. p. 99-102 and p. 65-66; and p. 265 to further cases of this kind).
Another case of particular interest is that in which an extensive Indo-European etymological word family, with numerous (over 10) fundamental (semantically distinctly different) Latin derivatives and semantic-soundic (i.e. -phonetic or -phonological) correspondences in Masa branch, is divided, on both sides, in the same  way, relative to the class of consonants of the secondary CV-syllable (alveolar/palatal or labial [frequently Nasals, on both sides]) (with at least 5 cases of either kind) (cf. p. 86-98 and p. 62-65).
Further cases of particular interest are those of Masa branch correspondences to the n of nasal-present with terminative meaning (cf. p. 263, p. 81-85 and p. 62-63) or to the m of durative in Latin/Indo-European (cf. p. 260-263).

In the second block of comparison, all expressions with the so called adjective-formans (an element, important for the forming of words with, first of all, adjectival meaning) kwam- in Lame are consulted. Remnants of the (Lame) adjective-formans occur also in other Masa branch languages, to some extent.
At first Latin/Indo-European correspondences to kwam-, namely per-, prae-/*p(e)rai-, *pro- (as expressions, inter alia, for the highest degree of comparison), and the extensive Indo-European etymological word family, belonging to these, are identified and, again, the (strictly) semantic Masa branch correspondences of fundamental Latin derivatives are examined on fundamental sound correspondences. Then all compound words, with Lame kwam-, are analyzed in the same way.
An especially remarkable result, e.g., occurs in the connection with the total number (13) of cases of Latin correspondences out of per-, prae-, pro- to the Lame adjective-formans, in the Latin words of equal/very similar meaning. For, all Latin/Indo-European prefixes per- correspond to the adjective-formans kwam- with high tone on a. And all Latin/Indo-European prefixes prae-/*p(e)rai- or pro- correspond to the adjective-formans kwam- with low tone on a. Thus, there are only correspondences between the maintenance of the Indo-European vowel of first CV-syllable and high tone on the a of Lame kwam- in 5 cases on the one hand, and between the loss or, beside it, the weakening of the Indo-European vowel of first CV-syllable and low tone on the a of Lame kwam- in the remaining 8 cases on the other hand (cf. p. 182-185; to the possible explanation p. 186-188; and to the forms p. 116-123 and p. 128-181).
Another especially remarkable result (found by the systematic mode of proceeding) consists in the finding that the first expressions for ‘oben’ (‘above’) and for the first semantic opposite to ‘oben’ (‘unten’ [‘below’]) are formed in Latin with the short suffix -mo- of the superlative of prepositions and in the northern (sub)group of Masa branch with -mu- in the same position and in the same function (i.e. in the expressions for ‘oben’ and for the semantic opposite to ‘oben’). For, in the southern group of Masa branch, instead of this, the prefix kwam- sporadically appears which corresponds to the Latin/Indo-European prefixes per-, prae-/*p(e)rai-, pro- (which likewise, inter alia, express the highest degree of comparison, as mentioned above) (cf. p. 164-172).

In the third block of comparison, semantic Lamé correspondences to Latin prefix verbs with the most old Latin prefixes are examined with regard to Indo-European etymological word families, on the one hand, and to (strictly) semantic and fundamental soundic Lamé correspondences, on the other hand (cf. p. 190-260).

In the final part of Basal language comparison, the extent of spreading of Masa branch-Indo-European correspondences is examined. Relative to the spreading of the whole of Chadic, the extent of spreading of the equivalent to the m of Latin/Indo-European suffixes of superlative in the expressions for ‘oben’ and for the semantic opposite to ‘oben’ (cf. p. 299-304), of the equivalents to Indo-European laryngals (cf. p. 304-316) and of closer soundic equivalents to the examined words (with Latin correspondences) in general (without consideration of laryngals) (cf. p. 272-298) shows in all cases very resembling patterns, namely with closest (semantic-soundic) equivalents to Masa branch-Indo-European correspondences in Western branch, part B, of Chadic, succeeded by equivalents in Central branch (without Masa group), and then followed by equivalents in Western group, part A (Eastern branch is not sufficiently consulted, pragmatically conditioned). These resemblance groups of Chadic languages (groups with graduated decreasing basal-lingual resemblance to the Masa branch-Indo-European correspondences) are probably closest (distantly) related to different (groups of) Eurasiatic language families, as mentioned above.


Methoden zum Nachweis entfernter Sprachverwandschaft mit Nachweis semantisch-lautlicher Entsprechungen bezüglich der ursprünglichen Wortbildungsprozesse zwischen dem Indogermanischen und dem Masa-Zweig des Tschadischen

Wolfgang Wegener

16 pp. Roman, 327 pp., 1 table, size: 240 x 170 mm
€ 48.00

The aim of this linguistic analysis is to substantiate relationships between distant language families. Hereby, the author intends to contribute to findings regarding the early settlement of Earth and the history of mankind. However, he finds current methods of historical-comparative linguistics not fit to prove relationships reaching this far back in time. To still be able to connect such diverse languages and thereby providing information about the history and pre-history of language, the author presents here a novel method to the established modes of operation of historical-comparative linguistics.

By this approach, the author intends to make semantic-phonological equivalents between languages and language families as evidence for further relationship between these language groups. Since this method compared the very basis of the languages under description, that is, in a scope even more narrow than traditional applied linguistics, it is more adequate here to speak of a basal-comparative approach.

To substantiate his method, the author goes on to present a concrete example of how it works. To prove a close relation between Indo-European and the Masa subgroup of the Chadic languages of Africa, he applies his own criteria and parameters to compare particular ancient word stems and compositions of these languages, only to ultimately arrive at some unexpected conclusions.

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