LINGUIST List 14.59

Thu Jan 9 2003

Qs: Ebonics/Writing Instruction, Afro-Asiatic Query

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate. In addition to posting a summary, we'd like to remind people that it is usually a good idea to personally thank those individuals who have taken the trouble to respond to the query.


  1. Sharon M. Chubbuck, Ebonics and writing instruction
  2. pauline, Afro-Asiatic Question

Message 1: Ebonics and writing instruction

Date: Tue, 7 Jan 2003 10:47:00 -0600
From: Sharon M. Chubbuck <>
Subject: Ebonics and writing instruction

My question for the listserve is this: Can anyone direct me to
research/publications about the role of Ebonics (syntax, vocabulary,
pragmatics, discourse organization, etc. etc.) in writing instruction?

Thank you again!

Sharon Chubbuck
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Policy and Leadership
Marquette University

Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Afro-Asiatic Question

Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2002 14:39:40 -0500
From: pauline <>
Subject: Afro-Asiatic Question


I'm a linguistics student at McGill University in Montreal. I've just
finished reading Theophile Obenga's Essay "Genetic Linguistic
Connections: Ancient Egypt and Black Africa." I have to admit that the
argument he puts forward for an African phylum including
Niger-Kordofanian, Egyptian-Coptic, Nilo-Saharan, Cushitic, Chadic,
seems very compelling. Are there any flaws with his method and if not
why are hasn't the linguistics community accepted this classification?
Is it possible that these correspondences are simply coincidental
given the immense number of languages in Africa? Are there any books
that deal with this issue? I have read that Obenga published a larger
work detailing linguistic similarities, is this credible (Origine
commune de l'egyptain ancien, du copte et des langues negro-africaines
modernes)? Examples of his writing can be seen at

A few examples from the essay:

 Words for "Name"

African super-phylum Indo-European 

Ancient Egyptian: rn Latin: nomen 

coptic: ran, ren, lan. Sanskrit: nama 

shilluk: rin Avestic: nama 

galke: rin Gothic: namo 

pormi: rin Hittite: laman 

ngumi: rin Welsh: enw 

panjama: rin Ancient: Irish ainm 

mbe: len 

bantu: rina, lina, dina,

fante: dzin

Asante: din


Akkadian: sumu, shumu

Ugaritic: sem, shem

Hebrew: sem, shem

Aramaic: sum, shum

Ethiopian: sem (he doesn't say if it's Geez or Amharic)

Arabic: ism


Using this evidence he comes at three distinct families

Indo European: name, nom, nama, namo ect

African: ran, lan, rin, din, dina

Semetic: sem, suma, shuma, ism

Some other examples are "sun"

African:ra, re, arriso, ayro, orr'ah, ra, ra, ra

Indo-European: sun, soleil, sura, sauil, sol, sonne, helios, haul

Semetic: samas, shamash, sps, semes, sams

"Earth, country, region"

Semitic: ersetu, ars, eres, ara, ard, ardh,

African: ta, to, to, u-to, si, thau

I've also read in an article by Ilya Yakubovich that the Afro-Asiatic
languages with the exception of Semitic cannot be connected to
Nostratic, how does this relate to Obenga's claim that Semitic is a
separate linguistic family?

Given the level of interaction between groups in North Africa and the
Middle East is it possible that similarities between Afro-Asiatic are
simply the result of borrowing? I've also read that Semitic has been
connected to Indo-European and also that Semitic is connected to
Afro-Asiatic, but that it is difficult to connect Afro-Asiatic to
does this support the idea of borrowing between Afro-Asiatic
languages? Is it possible to connect Semitic to languages in the
Chadic or Omotic family which are geographically separate from
Semitic? I've heard that the Northern Afro-Asiatic languages (Berber,
Egyptian, Semitic) form a group separate from other Afro-Asiatic
languages, how does this impact on he idea of borrowing?
( Perhaps the
similarities between these languages are the result of their being
adjacent and not their being derived from a common Proto-Afro-Asiatic
ancestor. I've also heard that some linguist such as Gerhard Doerfer
reject completely the idea that Afro-Asiatic as a valid family
Could it be that Afro-Asiatic is simply too distant in the past (15,
000 years much,
much older that Indo-European? Could it be that this language family
is more akin to a super or macro family such as Nostratic? Indeed I've
read that "Afro-Asiatic could well be a group comparable to the rest
of Nostratic and to Sino-Caucasian"
( I've also read
that Niger-Congo could very well by related to Nilo-Saharan in a
super-family called Niger-Saharan or Congo-Saharan
( This
idea has been championed by Gregerson (1977 Language in Africa )and
more recently by Roger Blench (The Niger-Saharan hypothesis III:
further evidence and the issue of verbal extension). How does this
impact on Obenga's thesis that some languages classified as
Afro-Asiatic (Chadic, Cushitic; both interestingly tone languages much
like other African languages) are related to other African Languages?
It also seems that Greenberg in his Afro-Asiatic chapter in "Languages
of Africa" attempts to link the so called Nilo-Hamitic (Maasai)
languages with the so called Hamitic (Somali) languages into a larger
family. How does this relate to Obenga's thesis?

Thanks for your response 
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue