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Share Paper 1592

Bantu Plant Names as Indicators of Linguistic Stratigraphy in the Western Province of Zambia
Koen Bostoen
16-29 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper presents a comparative study of some food plant names in the Bantu languages of the Western Province of Zambia: millet (Pennisetum glaucum + Eleusine coracana), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), maize (Zea mays), cassava (Manihot esculenta), and the (dwarf) mobola plum tree (Parinari curatellifolia/capensis). Some of these plants are indigenous and have been exploited for millennia. Others were introduced more recently. The variable distributional patterning of their lexical isoglosses informs us on the linguistic stratigraphy of the WP and illustrates how its current languages were originally divided by several linguistic frontiers, but have gradually integrated into a common linguistic area.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference on African Linguistics
edited by Doris L. Payne and Jaime Peña
Table of contents
Printed edition: $250.00