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Salffner, Sophie and Sands, Bonny (2012) Why Ukaan is hard to classify. In: The Niger-Congo International Congress, 18-21 September 2012, Center for African Linguistics, Languages and Cultures, Paris.. (Unpublished)

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In this paper, we look at Ukaan, an endangered minority language spoken in south-western Nigeria. Ukaan has not been investigated much but has nonetheless received a great number of rather different classifications, most recently as an Edoid language of the Benue-Congo family, though it has also been classified as an isolate in Benue-Congo. We first look at the reasons behind the chequered history of the classification. We discuss how small clusters with few lects and few speakers can pose particular challenges, but also how the data and research methodology employed for such languages may make matters more difficult. Second, with the combined knowledge of an expert on the language and an expert on historical linguistics, we suggest avenues for efforts in reconstruction. For this, we focus on particularities of the Ukaan language and its Ikaan dialect that are easily overlooked during short term research. These particularities are the phoneme /ɹ̥/, which is rare crosslinguistically but occurs widely in Ikaan in various phonetic surface realisations, and an underlying final /m/, which only surfaces if it is followed by another vowel. To conclude, we do not propose yet another classification of Ukaan. Instead, we ask for patience and caution in classifying and raise the question whether it is justified to call Ukaan Edoid just yet.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of Linguistics
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2012 08:56

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