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date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The North Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic phylum consists of only one language, Beja. Lexicostatistic studies show that only 20% of the basic vocabulary is shared with the two closest East Cushitic languages, Afar and Saho, and with Agaw, a Central Cushitic language. It is hardly half of that ratio for the geographically more distant East Cushitic languages, Sidamo and Oromo. Considering that Beja was too different from other Cushitic languages in too many respects, Hetzron proposed setting it apart from Cushitic as an independent branch of Afro-Asiatic. Since the pioneering works of Reinisch, Roper, and Hudson new fieldwork on Beja has been conducted by several scholars in Sudan, Egypt, and Eritrea, which provided new data and insights on the language and its dialectal diversification. Based on all the available studies, this chapter presents and discusses the state of the art for the classification of North Cushitic and reports on recent progress.

Keywords: North Cushitic, Cushitic, Afro-Asiatic, Beja, lexicostatistic, classification, dialectal diversification

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