Coronal Ejectives and EthioSemitic Borrowing in Proto-Agaw

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Conference Title

44th Annual Conference on African Linguistics

Publication Date



This paper examines the historical reconstruction of Proto-Agaw (PA, also known as Proto-Central Cushitic), the ancestral mother tongue of the languages Blin, Xamtanga, Kemantney, and Awngi (Appleyard 2006). Appleyard's reconstruction of PA does not contain ejectives, despite their reconstruction in Proto-Cushitic (as well as Proto-Afroasiatic), and despite their presence in three of the four Agaw languages. Appleyard claims that ejectives are (almost) always attributable to borrowings, mostly from neighboring EthioSemitic languages. Fallon (2009) looked at data from other Cushitic languages to argue that velar ejectives were required for PA. This paper argues that coronal ejectives must also be reconstructed for PA and thus certain details of PA reconstruction and sound change need revision. Seventeen Agaw forms provide evidence for the PA alveolar ejective and are distinguished from eleven forms in which the alveolar ejective is most likely due to borrowing from EthioSemitic. Fourteen Agaw forms support the reconstruction of the PA postalveolar affricate ejective, while eight others show influence from borrowing. Eighteen other forms show more difficult histories, but may also provide evidence for the reconstruction of a coronal ejective in Agaw. This study contributes to a more precise reconstruction of PA and a deeper understanding of the lexical strata and borrowings between Agaw and EthioSemitic.


This paper is openly available on the web.

The definitive paper can be found on the website of the Cascadilla Proceedings Project at: http://www.lingref.com/.

Publisher Statement

© 2015 Paul D. Fallon.