Grammaticalization of qәl ‘gourd’ in Amharic

Authors

  • Orin D. Gensler Leipzig

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.15460/auue.2020.93.1.212

Keywords:

Amharic, grammaticalization, intensive reflexives, attraction of morphemes

Abstract

The Amharic word qəl ‘gourd’ represents a rare case where a plant term serves as the source of a grammaticalization chain. The development occurred in two stages, first metaphoric change, then grammaticalization proper: gourd > skull/head > Intensive (never Plain) Reflexive (‘he himself, etc.’). This process was entangled with the grammatical evolution of two other words, ras and gəll. Ras, which is the basic unmarked term for ‘head’, as such underwent the basic unmarked grammaticalization into a Plain Reflexive (and only secondarily into an Intensive Reflexive). The other word, gəll ‘separate, individual’, phonetically quite similar to qəl but with no etymological connection to ‘head’, grammaticalized directly to the meaning ‘one’s own, by oneself’, thence secondarily to an Intensive Reflexive (but never a Plain Reflexive). Thus two near-synonyms (qəl, ras ‘head’) underwent two parallel grammaticalizations, but yielding different results: qəl, unlike ras, was never a Plain Reflexive. Why? The distinctive semantic evolution of qəl, I suggest, was partly driven by its phonetic similarity to the historically unrelated gəll, which also was never a Plain Reflexive. The phonetic similarity helped to foster a semantic attraction between the two grammaticalizing morphemes.

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Further information

Received

2020-01-24

Accepted

2020-03-20

Published

2020-12-31

How to Cite

Gensler, O. D. (2020). Grammaticalization of qәl ‘gourd’ in Amharic. Afrika Und Übersee, 93(1), 193–201. https://doi.org/10.15460/auue.2020.93.1.212

Issue

Section

Afrikanist:innentag