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ERIC Number: ED549340
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 294
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2674-0696-5
Omotic Peoples and the Early History of Agriculture in Southern Ethiopia
Assefa, Shiferaw Alemu
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
The primary objective of this dissertation is to reconstruct the history of the Omotic societies of southwestern Ethiopia. Although historical, anthropological, and linguistic studies exist for this region, the gaps in our knowledge are great. Information on the history of Omotic people, their economic and political systems, beliefs and values, marriage and kinship tends to he scanty and very uneven because most of these works focus on a few individual groups. Therefore, it is also a main goal of this study to contribute to redressing this problem in a systematic regional way with respect to the evolution of one major sub-system of knowledge and praxis, that of agriculture. Finally, analyze the available linguistic documentation to present a preliminary reconstruction of the periods of Omotic history. dating from 6000 BCE to 500 CE. The linguistic evidence presented here specifically confirms that "ensete" served as a food source from the Proto-Omotic period onward. The Proto-Omotic language possessed at least two terms referring to parts of the plant, one of which may have applied specifically to the edible corm and inner stalk, along with terms for tools uniquely used in the processing of "ensete." To the Proto-North Omotic and the Proto-Northeastern Omotic periods more complex terminologies for the plant can he traced, attesting to a great significance given to the plant. The lexical evidence also supports an introduction of cattle. into the subsistence economy of Omotic peoples in the period following the end of the Proto-North Omotic era. Word borrowing both from early Ometo into early Highland East Cushitic languages and from Highland East Cushitic into Ometo repeatedly bears witness to the significance of culture contact in southern Ethiopia. A pattern of heavy general or intensive general borrowing--the defining feature of which is the presence of several loanwords belonging to the portions of the lexicon most resistant to borrowing--shows that a great deal of shifting of ethnic identities and extensive bilingualism accompanied the encounters of the intruding early Ometo with the Highland East Cushites during the first millennium BCE. The initial period of interactions began at the Proto-Highland Eastern Cushitic period, before 1000 BCE. At this stage a strong Omotic influence on the evolution of the Proto-Highland society is evident, some but not all of it coming from the society speaking the immediate ancestor form of Proto-Ometo. Despite this influence there is no indication of ensete cultivation spreading this early to the Highland Eastern Cushites. Ometo expansion in the first millennium CE into the middle of the Highland Last Cushitic lands near the Rift Valley greatly shifted the course of history. It brought about multidirectional mixing of peoples of the two cultural backgrounds. An intensive general word-borrowing set passed from early Highland Eastern Cushitic into Proto-Ometo. This period was followed by similar word borrowing in the opposite direction, separately from Ometo languages into the lexicons of both Proto-North Highland East Cushitic and ancestral Burji. During this period ensete became an established crop among highland East Cushitic speaking peoples. The dissertation includes several figures that summarize the language evidence and closes with a lengthy Appendix that includes all of the relevant language evidence for this reconstruction of Omotic history. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Ethiopia