Linguistic variation within Gumuz: A study of the relationship between historical change and intelligibility
The Gumuz language is spoken by roughly 160,000 people across the Blue Nile region of Ethiopia and Sudan (Grimes 2004). Gumuz is the sole member of the Gumuz family which is part of the larger Nilo-Saharan super-family (Bender 1996a) and is considered to be a single language whose several varieties are mutually intelligible (Bender 1975, Unseth 1984). Recent studies regarding intelligbility, however, suggest the latter is not the case, documenting various levels of intelligibility between varieties, some of which are asymmetrical (Ahland et al. 2002). This thesis provides an historical analysis of Gumuz spoken in eight locations within Ethiopia and explores the relationship between historical change and intelligibility across these Gumuz varieties, suggesting that historical innovation is the key to direction of intelligibility. That is, the less innovative the language variety, the more likely other varieties of the language will be able to understand it.
0326: Cultural anthropology