N!aqriaxe - The Phonology of an Endangered Language of Botswana

Linda Gerlach

N!aqriaxe - The Phonology of an Endangered Language of Botswana

Linda Gerlach

N!aqriaxe is a variety of a language called Amkoe. Amkoe belongs to one of the three Khoisan language families and is spoken at the southern fringe of the Kalahari in Botswana. The N!aqriaxe variety is severely endangered as are the other two varieties of Amkoe, Hoan and Sasi. West Amkoe (subsuming N!aqriaxe and Hoan) counts approximately 50 speakers and Sasi possibly another 50 speakers. Exact numbers are not available. Most speakers are around 70 years old and the children do not learn the language anymore. Amkoe is spoken by former hunter-gatherer populations that nowadays live mostly scattered in villages within an area of a few hundred square kilometers. In linguistic terms, Amkoe has only been discovered in the 1970s and projects aiming at a more thorough documentation and classification of the language mostly started in the 2010s. Until today, the language is only partly documented. The aim of the present book is to fill the first gap by providing a description of the phonology of N!aqriaxe, supplemented with some phonetic data, and comparing it to the other two Amkoe varieties whenever these differ significantly. Furthermore it also includes some sociolinguistic information about the speakers and their history as well as a study of how the contact between speakers of Khoisan languages belonging to different language families influenced the phonological and phonetic characteristics of these languages.