Orders, blessings and curses in Kambaata


CFEE Seminar on Contemporary Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa (2015-2016)

6ème séance / 6th session: “Eat me, ground!” – Orders, blessings and curses in Kambaata, par/by Yvonne Treis (CNRS-LLACAN)

In partnership with the Department of Linguistics and Philology of Addis Ababa University.

Jeudi 3 mars 2016 (14h-16h) / Thursday March 3rd 2016 (2-4 PM). Lieu / Venue : ILS Conference Room (Rm. 418), Sidist Kilo Campus, Addis Ababa University.

“Eat me, ground!” – Orders, blessings and curses in Kambaata, par/by Yvonne Treis (CNRS-LLACAN)

Kambaata is a Highland East Cushitic language spoken in the Southern Region of Ethiopia. After a short introduction into the sociolinguistic situation and a brief overview of the major grammatical characteristics of the language, this seminar aims to give a comprehensive account of the grammar (part 1), the lexicon (part 2) and the context of use (part 3) of orders, blessings and curses. In part 1 (grammar), we take a look at the morphology of the dedicated verb forms used in directives. It is illustrated by which means orders can be mitigated and how they can be turned into harsh commands and threats. In addition to imperative-jussive verb forms, which are also found in related Highland East Cushitic languages, Kambaata has recently grammaticalised a full paradigm of preventive verbs, which serve to encode warnings (‘Take care, don’t [verb]!’) and threats (‘Don’t dare to [verb]!’). Part 2 is concerned with the lexicon of directives. The semantic field of ‘take’- and ’give’-requests is laid out, and invariable (ideophonic) command forms from child-directed and animal-directed speech are discussed. In the third part of the seminar, the linguistic data is embedded in its cultural context. We follow up on the question which interlocutors are addressed by which types of directives in which situations. A small case study of masaala-blessings (blessings at the Meskel holidays) concludes the seminar.

The speaker

Yvonne Treis is a research fellow of the research centre LLACAN (Language, Langues et Cultures d’Afrique Noire) of the CNRS in France. She works on the description of the Cushitic language Kambaata and the Omotic language Baskeet. Besides her work on morphology and syntax, she is especially interested in ethnolinguistic topics (e.g. language taboo, ceremonial language) and phenomena of language contact.

Modérateurs / Moderators : Chloé Darmon (CFEE) and Mulugeta Tarekegn  (Department of Linguistics and Philology).

Photo: Sign on the road from Duuraame to Wetaa: Hambarrichchut gujjuanne godabaanne. Oddinsose! Kambaati meenti geezimma Tophphe ‘Mount Hambarrichcho is our back and our belly. Let us dress her!  Author: Cooperative of the Kambaata women, Ethiopia (2007)

David Ambrosetti

David Ambrosetti est politiste, chargé de recherche au CNRS. Il a été directeur du CFEE de 2014 à 2018. Depuis 2018 il est membre du laboratoire Les Afriques dans le monde (CNRS / Sciences po Bordeaux).

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