Christa Kilian-Hatz: The Linguistic Link between (Western) baMbenga and (Eastern) baMbuti Pygmies

Studia Instituti Anthropos 58

The term “pygmies” long time summarized simply all dwarfish populations of foragers scattered all over the equatorial rainforest of Africa. Missionaries and early ethnologists were fascinated by them because they assumed that the pygmy groups had a common origin and were perhaps direct, almost pure descendants of a very early Stone Age culture. The currently about 20 pygmy forager populations seem to be closely related molecular genetically. However, the pygmy populations speak different languages. An early explanation for this fact assumes that the pygmies are the autochthonous population of the equatorial rain forest and as such spoke once their uniform indigenous “pygmy” language, a kind of common pygmy proto-language. The present study provides for the first time missing linguistic data of three baMbuti languages: Efe, Atsoa and iButi. The oral literature shows interesting, unexpected parallels suggesting a substratum of a common proto-language.

Christa Kilian-Hatz, born in 1963 in Munich, 1984-1985 studied Theology at Domschule Würzburg, 1986-1987 Social Engagement among the Baka pygmies of Southern Cameroon, 1987-1992 African Studies, Anthropology and General Linguistics at the University of Cologne (M.A.), 1988/1990 Field Research among the Baka pygmies in Southern Cameroon, 1995 PhD („Das Baka: Grundzüge einer Grammatik aus der Grammatikalisierungsperspektive“) at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Cologne. 1997-1999 Habilitation fellowship of the German Research Foundation, 1999-2005 Research Associate, 2002 Habilitation (PD) (“Typologie der Ideophone.” Köln: Rüdiger Köppe), 2002-2007 Heisenberg fellowship of the German Research Foundation and 1977-2005 diverse field researches among the Khwe in Northern Namibia. In 2009, she became Apl. Professor at the Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main, Faculty of Empirical Linguistics and since 2008 she is Director of the Lehrinstitut für Orthographie und Schreibtechnik (LOS) in Frankfurt and Dietzenbach. Her scientific main interests are Grammaticalisation, Language typology, Khoisan languages, Pygmy languages, and Oral literature.


ISBN 978-3-89665-792-3 (Print)
ISBN 978-3-89665-793-0 (ePDF)