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Drift and Noun Plural Reduplication in Afroasiatic

  • Robert R. Ratcliffe (a1)


Noun plurals showing partial reduplication appear sporadically in a wide variety of Afroasiatic languages, particularly in the Chadic, Cushitic, and Semitic groups. In past treatments it has generally been assumed that these examples are remnants of a widespread proto-Afroasiatic process of plural formation by reduplication. The following paper argues on empirical and theoretical grounds that it is more likely that reduplication as such was not a means of plural formation in proto-Afroasiatic and that a reduplicated plural only occurred as a morpho-phonologically conditioned variant of the prosodically extended stem (or ‘nternal-a’) plural. This paper seeks to demonstrate that in those languages where reduplication does occur as a major means of plural formation it is more easily interpreted as an innovation rather than as a conservative retention.



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