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Just to clarify, stops occur both with and without release at the end of
words (presumably not to include the ejective, implosive or glottal stops)?

The pitch is a tone on the stressed syllable?

On Sun, Feb 26, 2012 at 8:39 PM, Paul Bennett <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> This is purely natlangery, but I automatically filed it in my head under
> "you can't *make* this stuff up", so I thought I'd share it as an anadew
> collection for posterity.
>
> As posted previously, I'll probably be doing a charity trip to Ethiopia
> this November. As a bit of a linguist, I figured it would behoove me to get
> familiar with the relevant languages (of which there are between 75 and 100
> known in the country). I managed to figure out from the Internet that the
> main national languages would be Amharic and Oromo, and the local language
> would be part of the Omotic family, which is a branch of Afro-Asiatic,
> along with Cushitic (containing Oromo) and Semitic (containing Amharic).
>
> Along with a copy of Routledge's "Colloquial Amharic", I managed to track
> down a copy of Bender[1], which appears to be the only available collection
> of its kind dealing with the subject matter.
>
> Two things turn out:
>
>  1.  The local language the region I'll be going to is Hamer
>
>  2.  Bender devotes a whole chapter to Hamer
>
> Huzzah! I only bought the book for an intro to Oromo, and it turns out to
> be double-useful. I love it when that happens.
>
> In reading the chapter on Hamer, however, I began to get thoroughly
> astounded by its phonology and morphophonology. Please follow along as I
> describe some of the highlights.
>
>  *** CONSONANTS ***
>
> The consonants are pretty unremarkable. All the following can occur, with
> phonemic gemination non-initially, and (for stops) phonemic lack of release
> finally.
>
>  b    d   J\  g
>  p    t   c   k       ?
>                   q'
>  b_<  d_<     g_<
>       z
>  f    s   S   x       h
>       ts
>       4
>       l
>  m    n   J   N
>  w        j
>
>  *** VOWELS ***
>
> The vowels are rather more interesting. There are four categories of
> vowels.
>
> Categories I, II, and III are each variants on the simple five-vowel
> triangle, with phonemic length:
>
>  i       u
>    e   o
>      a
>
> Category I is glotallized / ATR, and associated with epenthetic /?/
> Category II is laryngealized / RTR, and associated with epenthetic /h/
> Category III are called "umlauts" and are unmarked for either ATR or RTR
>
> Category IV seems to consist of /E/, /O/, /i;/, and /a;/, where /;/ means
> "between long and short", all unmarked for ATR or RTR
>
> Vowel harmony is present -- all roots and affixes are either Category I or
> II.
>
> Umlauting occurs when a disharmonic affix is applied to a root. However
> (and this I think is rather neat), some affixes appear to be "strong"
> (causing the vowels in the root to umlaut), and some appear to be "weak"
> (taking umlaut themselves, and leaving the root unchanged).
>
> I haven't yet been able to glean the exact circumstances under which
> Category IV vowels occur, but they seem to be the result of certain mergers
> during harmonic liaison. Diphthongs also occur in harmonic liaison.
>
>  *** SYLLABLES ***
>
> Nothing too amazing: (C)V(R)(C) seems to be the pattern. However, there is
> a long list of rules covering epenthesis, metathesis, and consonant
> harmonization to be taken into account when a root meets an affix and
> consonants collide, especially if it would cause an illegal CCC cluster.
>
>  *** STRESS ***
>
> Stress marks grammatical categories. Nouns are stressed on the final
> syllable of their root. Verbs are stressed on their initial syllable.
>
>  *** PITCH ***
>
> Pitch is used to mark the realis / irrealis. Affirmative and negative
> statements, and yes/no questions are all lexically identical, even with the
> same word order. Level pitch is used to signal affirmative statements,
> rising pitch on the word being asked about is used to signal yes/no
> questions, and falling pitch on the word being denied is used to form
> negative statements.
>
> This is just the tip of the iceberg. I have yet to even start to look at
> the grammar or lexicon.
>
>  *** IN SUMMARY ***
>
> So, the next time someone asks for some whacky (morpho)phonemics, please
> feel free to point them here. I have the book, and will answer further
> questions as best I can.
>
> Thanks for indulging me during this semi-topical rambling.
>
>
> [1] Bender, M Lionel - The Non-Semitic Languages of Ethiopia (Michigan
> State University, 1976)
>
>
> --
> Paul
>