Alexis Manaster-Ramer manaster at
Mon Mar 8 13:39:01 UTC 1999

----------------------------Original message----------------------------

On Sun, 7 Mar 1999, Sally Thomason wrote [inter alia]:

>    Christopher Ehret identifies at least one causative suffix in
> Ma'a as of Cushitic origin; Mous cautions that Ehret's etymologies
> need careful checking, but in any case it doesn't appear to be a
> Bantu suffix, and Ehret says that it is -- or was, ca. 25 years
> ago -- very productive.  He says the same thing about two or
> three other non-Bantu suffixes in Ma'a.
>    The pronominal possessive suffixes are certainly inflectional
> (at least that's how such affixes are generally analyzed in languages
> that have them), so indeed there is evidence of Cushitic inflection
> in (earlier) Ma'a.
I don't (for once!) strongly disagree with Sally, but I do
query the assumption that such affixes, esp. the causative,
constitute ironclad evidence that the lg started out non-Bantu.
A Bantu lg could have borrowed some Cushitic affixes and then
more recently lost them again. Or could it?

> Second, Alexis Manaster Ramer asks for references.  The most
> useful source on the present linguistic & social status of Ma'a is
> Maarten Mous's 1994 article "Ma'a or Mbugu", in the book Mixed
> Languages, ed. by Peter Bakker & Maarten Mous, pp. 175-200
> (published by IFOTT at U. Amsterdam, but see Bakker's recent
Thank you for this and other references [snipped].  The funny
thing is that several years ago I was asked to review this book
and have a draft that is rather far along, which I hope someone
will help me finish one of these days.  I did not find Mous's
paper, or indeed any of the papers in that volume, to answer
my questions, though.
> P.S.  I don't think there's general agreement any more that Sandawe
>       and Hadza belong to the Khoisan family.  Bonny Sands' recent
>       UCLA dissertation failed to find solid support for the
>       hypothesis.
This is so, but I don't know that there is anyone doing solid
work to try to figure out what these languages ARE related to,
which is unfortunate.

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