The ATrA Workshop was held in Trieste (Italy) on May 24-26, 2016 with the aim of discussing the possible dimensions and varieties related to phenomena of cultural and linguistic transition in Africa.
Identity negotiation, ethnicity and cultural affiliation, cases of contact, creolization, integration, urbanization, climate or cultural changes, language and cultural switch, market exchanges and human migration have been put on the table, generating a very concrete and fruitful discussion.
The case studies collected in this miscellaneous book, give an idea of the multi-faceted dimensions of the debate, which ranges by necessity from anthropology to archaeology and from philology to linguistics, in a continuous alternation of disciplines, voices and styles.
Mechanisms of resilience and adaptation to new situations and contexts are described through an investigation which in many cases has the flavour of an intimate research, aimed above all at finding out the very essence of “being human”.
Ilaria Micheli, PhD in African Studies (2005) and expert in linguistic anthropology, is a researcher in the Department of Legal, Linguistic, Interpreting and Translation Studies at the University of Trieste. Since 2001 she has been working on the language and culture of the Kulango (Gur – Niger‑Congo) in Côte d’Ivoire, and more recently on the Ogiek (Kalenjin – Nilo‑Saharan) in Kenya. Material culture, oral tradition and traditional medicine are her main research areas. She teaches African Languages and Cultures at the University of Venice “Caʼ Foscari” as well as traditional and modern African literature and social anthropology at the University of Trieste.
Browsing ATrA 3. Cultural and Linguistic Transition explored by Title
The phenomenon of modifying an animal’s horn was widespread in ancient and modern cultures, especially in African tribes. The modification was typically to one horn whilst the second was allowed to grow naturally, but occasionally both horns were adapted.
The Ancient Egyptian undertook the modification to distinguish the animal intended for similarly, modern African tribes follow this tradition and their cattle selected for horn modification have a very important role in both religious and economic lives of north and north- eastern African citizens. Their economic dependency is a result of the religious and symbolic importance of the cattle. Such African communities are not breeding cattle for the benefit of their milk, but to increase the length of their horns, which represents a special religious significance. The important religious and symbolic role of modified horns can be clarified by observing the traditions of contemporary African tribes who still worship cattle; a tradition that has a close similarity with that of a similar practice by the Ancient Egyptians.
This Ancient Egyptian phenomenon, and its continuity in some African areas, is described by Anthropologists as “Cultural Survival”, and its study is the aim of this paper.
Language planning is a formal or informal problem-solving administrative activity which “advocate[s for] either expanding or restricting the resources of a language” and is aimed at total adoption of a language-use strategy on a national level (Haugen 1966a; Kloss 1969; Haarman 1990). This activity has often relied on a cost-benefit analysis structure to choose and eventually implement an official language on a national level. This work investigates such choices made during the independence period in Ghana and advocates for editing the cost-benefit strategy going forward by incorporating network analysis to provide government leaders with a cohesive sociolinguistic valuation of alternatives for their consideration.
Abstract: The paper examines the Arabic component of a five-language vocabulary published at the beginning of the 20th century (Wtterwulghe 1904). The aims of the analysis are: (i) to illustrate the multiple sources of this variety of Arabic; (ii) to establish the nature of the variety of Arabic represented in the vocabulary, which Luffin (2004) calls “arabe véhiculaire”. The comparison made with other contemporary sources on African Arabic-lexified pidgins and creoles (Cook 1905, Jenkins 1909, Meldon 1913, Owen & Keane 1915, Muraz 1926) suggests that the variety illustrated is a pidgin-like mix, with input from a wide range of sources, including Egyptian, Sudanese and Moroccan Arabic as well as several African languages, e.g. Bari, Luganda, Swahili, and Zande. It is also shown that the Wtterwulghe’s (1904) vocabulary contains some of the earliest attestations of features also found in the African Arabic-lexified creoles Nubi and Juba Arabic.
The present paper is a first attempts of an historical reconstruction on the transmission of the number category “paucal” in the area of the Abbaya and C'amo lakes in Southern Ethiopia. The languages involved are Bayso (Cushitic), Haro (Omotic) and Haro's strongly related sister-languages Ganjule and Gets'ame.
The present situation of bilingualism of the Haro in Bayso suggests that Bayso has passed the paucal to the Haro. However, the presence of the paucal in the other documented dialect of Haro, Ganjule, makes this hypothesis untenable since the Ganjule do not speak Bayso and have no particulal relation with the Bayso group. There is no description of the other dialect of the cluster, Gets'ame, but, according to Haro oral traditions, the Haro come from the Gets'ame, as well as their language. It is, therefore, very likely that the Gets'ame language has also the paucal. The paper presents two hypotheses that explains the presence of the paucal in these languages of the Abbaya and C'amo lakes.
This paper is devoted to the occurrence of the bi3w, the products from Punt, in the archaeological record and, more generally, to the contribution archaeology can provide to the study of the Egypt-Punt trade. In particular, special emphasis is given to the reconstruction of aspects of this trade which can be only partially studied through texts and iconographic evidence, such as trade organization, the management of commodities, and the trade routes. Ebony, obsidian, baboons and dogs are discussed as study cases. Finds from Mersa/Wadi Gawasis, the Middle Kingdom harbor on the Egyptian Red Sea coast from where the maritime expeditions to the land of Punt were launched, as well as from Eastern Sudan, a region which may have been pert of Punt, are discussed. Finally, the potential of the contribution archaeometry can provide to the study of the Egypt-Punt trade is emphasized and an agenda Is suggested.
In the absence of concepts that correspond to those of chance, luck, or fortune, how do people account for why seemingly random desirable or undesirable events occur? Based on long-term fieldwork with the Chewong, a small hunting-gathering and shifting-cultivating group of people who live in the Malaysian rain-forest, I study their theory of causality. It is argued that cause is a universal category of the human mind, but that an understanding of cause cannot be separated from an examination of the ontology and epistemology in each case.
Clause chaining is a clause-linking strategy which stands in between coordination and subordination, combining the lack of embeddedness of the former with the dependence of the latter (Foley and Van Valin, 1984). A finite verb form may be either preceded or followed by one or several less-finite forms: these two options are referred to as medial-final and initial-medial clause chaining, respectively. While medial-final chaining is attested all over the world, initial-medial chaining was until recently deemed to be unattested; however, recent research has demonstrated its existence in several Niger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan languages. While Berber (Afroasiatic) was long neglected in the relevant typological literature, Mauri (in press) has shown that Berber’s Chained-Aorist construction is an instance of initial-medial clause chaining. This paper highlights the similarities between Berber’s Chained Aorist and the clause-chaining constructions of some genetically-unrelated sub-Saharan languages. These similarities might support an interpretation of initial-medial clause chaining in these languages as an areal feature.
In the history of the traditional Ethiopian art one recognizes a process of “transition” of formal elements from the African substrate into the Christian imagery. Through the different stylistic phases and schools a geometric solution recurs as the result of a formal abstraction process, through which the art moves towards the archetypal to express the divine in its powerful distance from reality.
The ATrA Workshop was held in Trieste (Italy) on May 24-26, 2016 with the aim of discussing the possible dimensions and varieties related to phenomena of cultural and linguistic transition in Africa. Identity negotiation, ethnicity and cultural affiliation, cases of contact, creolization, integration, urbanization, climate or cultural changes, language and cultural switch, market exchanges and human migration have been put on the table, generating a very concrete and fruitful discussion. The case studies collected in this miscellaneous book, give an idea of the multi-faceted dimensions of the debate, which ranges by necessity from anthropology to archaeology and from philology to linguistics, in a continuous alternation of disciplines, voices and styles. Mechanisms of resilience and adaptation to new situations and contexts are described through an investigation which in many cases has the flavour of an intimate research, aimed above all at finding out the very essence of “being human”.
Language is one of the strongest expressions of group identity. Many communities in East Africa are multilingual and for some of the smaller communities this leads to language loss and for others to language revival. The article shows how different groups in similar circumstances opt for different linguistic behaviour and how these choices can swiftly change in the light of external circumstances including economic need. The article examines the linguistic attitude of groups such as the Yaaku, Aasa, Akiek, Ma’á/Mbugu from East Africa and compares them among each other and with other former hunter-gatherers such as the Bakola/Bagyele pygmies in Cameroon and the agricultural Mbugwe from Tanzania who are equally small in numbers.
The Red Sea is a very diversified maritime cultural space, main differences are among the northern and the southern part of this sea. Maritime cultural variations are seen particularly in the different systems of adaptation to the various environments: in the type of settlements, boat construction and navigation techniques.
Being located in between two wide and important maritime cultural areas — the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean — maritime traditions in the Red Sea have been strongly influenced or modified by other maritime cultures. Changes are particularly evident in boat technology: in the transitions from one technique of boat construction to another, from one system of propulsion to another, from the use of certain materials of construction to others, or in the adoption of new hull shapes and new decorative elements.
The identification of elements of continuity and tradition in the various expressions of maritime culture in the Red Sea, and particularly in boat technology, is crucial to understand these transitional elements.
The article deals with the problem of counting languages with an eye to assessing the loss of language diversity. It opposes internal and external definitions of language. The article rejects current literature which rests on sociological definitions of language, based upon the conventional wisdom of the speakers and the use of languages in order to flag identities, and pleads for the necessity to embrace an internal definition based upon intelligibility and structual differences. In so doing, it harks back to a time-honored quest for a prely structural definition of language (vs. dialect). In such a view, neither the speakers’ attitudes to their or other languages nor recognition on the part of official bodies backing or play no role, while the task of defining language is therefore handed back squarely from social studies and social-oriented analyses of language to linguistics.
This paper analyzes the existence and use of opium in ancient Egypt, its introduction in the country and references to opium as a medicinal ingredient. Some prescriptions in medical papyri are mentioned as records confirming the application of opium. Objects are mentioned as records of the drug presence in Egypt. Whether it was used only as a medicine but also as a recreational drug is here discussed. The attempt to date the introduction of the Papaver somniferum L. plant in ancient Egypt is also developed. Scientific data were consulted, but it is needed to note that some authors present different views. Nevertheless, this paper suggests that opium may have been introduced in ancient Egypt in the New Kingdom (c. 1550-1350 BCE), although records for the commerce of the drug may point to the end of the Ptolemaic Period, influencing Greek medicine and expanding its use throughout the Roman Period onwards.
This chapter provides a review of the currently available archaeological evidence relating to the transition to food production in eastern Africa, and some of the supporting linguistic and genetic evidence. In broad terms, livestock herding preceded crop cultivation in the region, with an initial emphasis on sheep and goats, commencing around 4500 to 5000 years ago. By around 3000 years ago, full-blown pastoralist societies with an emphasis on cattle herding occupied much of the savannah areas. From ca. 2500 year ago, metal using farming communities, practicing hoe cultivation of roots crops and cereals were also present, interacting with both pastoralist and autochthonous hunting-gathering-fishing communities. These interactions gave rise to diverse ethnic mosaic, alongside extensive genetic and linguistic exchanges.
The Roman Empire showed a very distinct interest for the Red Sea area along all its history. This was due to the crucial role played by such region in both military and commercial Roman plans to expand its own influence in the East. The first echo of a military attempt to conquer the north eastern shores of Africa beyond Egypt dates back to the age of Augustus, but it is with Trajan that such project seems to reach a new level of coherence and strategic view. Under the latter, in fect, we have evidence for a climax in the Roman control over the area, which had important consequences on the history of the region for decades ahead.
Preliminary results of the analysis of determinatives of Egyptian terms used to identify aromatic products deriving from southern countries, which have shown the complexity of the ancient writing system and the importance of determinatives to represent the perceived world. The general aim to clarify the botanic interpretation of Aromata has been partially achieved adding new elements for a better understanding of the nature and origin of those raw materials.
This paper seeks to shed a high light on the archaeological sites discovered in the area of Suakin, Arkaweet, and Sinkat as a part of the project of the department of Archaeology ß university of Khartoum, so, the archaeological sites discovered in this region belong to different periods such as Pre-Historic, Medieval, Islamic, and others are unknown, which means that the region used to link the Red Sea Cultures with those on the central Sudan and Egypt far north and Eretria in the east.
Through this study I am also seeking to evaluate the field work (Archaeological and Ethnographic) conducted in the area of Arkaweet and Sinkat town, and Suakin port, then to put a plan for the managing and protecting the archaeological sites and ethnographic materials. Therefore I will follow or apply a number of approaches in this study such as description, survey analysis of the sites and its contents as well a comparison will be made between the results of the present study with the results of the previous studies in the field of archeology and ethnography conducted on other sites in the Sudanese Red Sea Region. The historical sources will also be compared with the study findings.
For the most part, the linguistic history of the Ethio-Eritrean highlands in ancient and mediaeval times cannot be reconstructed because of the lack of direct sources. The hegemonic role played by a few cultural centers and the prevalence of the ‘dominant’ languages caused the disappearance of a number of unknown idioms. Therefore, in order to raise a reliable reconstruction, the modern historical research must take into account also the scanty philological traces of languages used by peoples that lost their linguistic identities as a consequence of the cultural assimilation. Particularly, the etymological interpretation of some royal names allows one to cast a light on the linguistic origin of the members of ancient dynasties ruling between the 3rd and the 13th c.