- Qimant language
The Qimant language is a highly
endangered languagespoken by a small and elderly fraction of the Qemantpeople in Northern Ethiopiamainly in Chilga Woredain Semien Gondar Zonebetween Gondarand Metemma.
speakers=1650 (1994 Census)
The language belongs to the western subsection of the Agaw or
Central Cushitic languages[Zelealem 2003, p. 30] . Other (extinct) members of this subsection are Qwara and Kayla. With all other Cushitic languagesQimant belongs to the phylum of the Afro-Asiatic languages.
=Geographic distribution and sociolinguistic situation=
Qimant is the original language of the
Qemantpeople of Semien Gondar Zonein Ethiopia. Although the ethnic population of the Qemant was 172,327 at the 1994 census, only a very small fraction of these speak the language nowadays. All speakers live either in Chilgaworeda or in Lay Armachihoworeda [see map in Zelealem 2003, p. 31] . The number of first-language speakers is 1625, the number of second language speakers 3450 [Zelealem 2003, p. 62] . All speakers of the language are older than 30 years, and more than 75% are older than 50 years [Zelealem 2003, p. 63] . The language is no longer passed on to the next generation of speakers. Most ethnic Qemant people speak Amharic. Qimant is not spoken in public or even at home as a means of daily communication any more, but is reduced to a secret code [Zelealem 2003, p. 75] .
Continuants can be geminated word-medially.
The maximum syllable structure in Qimant is CVC, which implies that
consonant clusters are only allowed word-medially [Zelealem 2003, p. 160f] . In loanwords from Amharic there may also be consonant-clusters within a syllable. Vowel clusters are not allowed.
Consonant clusters with more than two consonants are broken up by inserting the epenthetic vowelIPA|/ɨ/. Other phonological processes are nasal assimilationand devoicingof IPA|/ɡ/ at word boundaries [Zelealem 2003, p. 164ff] .
The prosodic features of Qimant have not been studied yet.
The personal marking system distinguishes between first person singular and plural, second person singular, polite, and plural, and third person masculine, feminine and plural. On the verb, all inflectional categories are marked by suffixes. Zelealem (2003, p. 192) identifies three different aspect forms in Qimant: Perfective, Imperfective and Progressive. Like in other
Central Cushitic languages, the numbers one to nine go back to an ancient quinarysystem, where the suffix IPA|/-ta/ added to the numbers two to four results in the numbers six to nine [Zelealem 2003, p. 233] .
yntax [Zelealem 2003, p. 252-262]
The basic constituent order in Qimant, like in all other Afro-Asiatic languages of Ethiopia, is SOV. The presence of a case marking system allows for other, more marked orders. In the
noun phrasethe head nounfollows its modifiers. Numbers, however, can also follow the head noun. All kind of subordinate clauses precede the main verbof the sentence.
As a consequence of the looming language death, many items of the vocabulary are already replaced by
* Zelealem Leyew. 2003. "The Kemantney Language - A Sociolinguistic and Grammatical Study of Language Replacement". Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
* David L. Appleyard. 1975. "A descriptive outline of Kemant," "Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies" 38:316-350.
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