The consonant inventory of Proto-Eastern Cushitic


  • Christopher Ehret


Cushitic, consonants, vowel, phonemic system


Hans-Jiirgen Sasse established a solid initial reconstruction of the proto-Eastern Cushitic (PEC) consonants. This initial system had about 20 to 23 consonants. Further work by Linda Arvanites indicated the existence of several additional consonants. The current work rounds out the PEC consonant system and shows it to consist of 30 consonants in all. These for a moderately well-balanced system of voiced stops, voiced implosives in four different positions of articulation, and voiceless stops and ejective stops in three different positions of articuation. PEC also had five non-laryngeal fricatives, the full array of laryngeals that one has come to expect from Afroasiatic languages, l, r, w, y, and most interestingly, four different nasals, includingp and 1), this latter distinction not widely recognized as a feature of Afroasiatic. A side effect of this reconstruction is a first provisional history of the reflexes in Eastern Cushitic languages of PEC geminates. Along with this history, an explanation is proposed for the derivation of the Yaaku 7 -vowel system from the PEC system of 5 vowels, long and short.