Aspects of the Morphophonology of Hamar


  • Moges Yigezu ILOS, University of Oslo



Hamar is a member of the Aroid group of languages spoken by around 46,000 individuals (CSA 2008). The Hamar live in the plain lands of the semi-desert region of the rift valley in the south western corner of Ethiopia, in the South Omo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR). Their subsistence can be characterized as a mixture of pastoralism and shifting agriculture. The earliest attempts at describing the language were made available through the publications of Conti Rossini (1927) and Da Trento (1941), who provided a few comparative lists of words and grammatical sketches. Over the last few decades, however, some progress has been made in describing aspects of the structure of the language, and these include: Lydall (1976, 1988, 2000), Mary (1987), Getahun (1991), Cupi et al (2013), Binyam & Moges (2014), and Moges & Binyam (2015). Only Lydall (1976), Mary (1987) and Moges & Binyam (2015) briefly described the phonology, the latter with the aim of designing an orthography for the envisaged mother tongue education in the Hamar language. This contribution is a follow up to these previous efforts and it tries to describe aspects of the morphophonology of Hamar. In doing so, the paper gives a concise summary of the sound pattern of the language, focusing on the syllable structure, phonotactic constraints and word structure conditions that regulate the morphophonemic alternations. Three processes are found to be wide-spread in the morphophonology of the language: the spreading of nasality, the spreading of place of articulation and the spreading of manner of articulation. While nasality spreads from right to left, the spreading of place and manner features takes place from left to right.

Author Biography

Moges Yigezu, ILOS, University of Oslo

Researcher, Russian linguistics