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Hunting for signs: Exploring unspoken networks within the Kalahari Basin

Susanne Mohr, Anne-Maria Fehn and Alex de Voogt

Abstract

In this article we present comparative data on visual hunting signals from the Kalahari Basin Area of southern Africa, encompassing three Kalahari Khoe-speaking (Ts’ixa, Buga, ǁAni) and one Kx’a-speaking group (Juǀ’hoan). For the comparison, an analysis of handshapes, handedness and iconicity in the individual data sets was conducted. Being applied in analyses of gestures and (partly) sign languages, these parameters reveal significant similarities and differences between the individual systems. We find that the systems documented most likely constitute an areal feature that transcends the boundaries of genealogical linguistic affiliation and may ultimately contribute to a better understanding of population contact and local networks in the Kalahari Basin Area Sprachbund.

Acknowledgements

We are deeply indebted to all our participants for dedicating their time to our research, as well as to those people of the communities who assisted us as interpreters. We would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of this paper, and the editors for their support during the publication process. New data on Botswanan Khwe varieties and Ts’ixa discussed in this paper was collected under a research permit issued by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture of the Government of Botswana and funded by the a.r.t.e.s. graduate school of the University of Cologne, the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst) DAAD, the project “The Kalahari Basin area: a ‘Sprachbund’ on the verge of extinction” within the European Science Foundation EUROCORES programme EUROBABEL led by Tom Güldemann, and by the Humboldt University of Berlin.

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Published Online: 2019-07-09
Published in Print: 2019-07-26

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