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Tracing Language Movement in Africa$
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Ericka A. Albaugh and Kathryn M. de Luna

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190657543

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190657543.001.0001

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Understanding Distributions of Chadic Languages

Understanding Distributions of Chadic Languages

Archaeological Perspectives

(p.67) Chapter 4 Understanding Distributions of Chadic Languages
Tracing Language Movement in Africa

Scott MacEachern

Oxford University Press

The distribution of Chadic languages in Africa is extremely diverse, including the widely dispersed Hausa language, the more restricted Central Chadic languages in the southern Lake Chad Basin, and the poorly understood Eastern Chadic languages in Chad. These distributions are disjunct in complex ways, and the relationships between Chadic and neighboring language families is extremely complicated. The genesis of these distributions lies in the mid-Holocene, with the occupation of the Lake Chad Basin by populations faced by the desiccation of the Sahara and the opening of arable lands further south. Further differentiation of Chadic languages appears to be associated with sociopolitical developments in the region, especially over the last 1,000 years. This chapter will consider the methodological challenges associated with studying the history of these populations using archaeological, linguistic, and genetic data, as well as providing an initial framework for understanding the social dynamics within which these linguistic distributions emerged.

Keywords:   archaeology, Chadic languages, Lake Chad Basin, Hausa, prehistory

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