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1992-93 Annual Report

Gene Gragg

Gene Gragg's Cushitic-Omotic Etymological Database, a computerized tool for investigation into the historical relationships of the vocabulary of the Cushitic and Omotic branches of the Afroasiatic super-family of languages, has been implemented now for a Windows environment with a widely-used database managing system (Microsoft's Foxpro). This development thus meets one of the original premises of the project as proposed to the National Science Foundation-namely that it is feasible to develop an etymological dictionary using standard data-file formats and off-the-shelf data-base managing software. A stand-alone module will be ready for distribution by the fall of 1993. Meanwhile, work has been proceeding on the problem of developing the same kind of tool for the study of Cushitic and Omotic (and ultimately Afroasiatic) historical grammar. Preliminary studies indicate that it may be possible to develop within the same framework data-structures for representing paradigms and the morphological generalizations and rules that underlie them.

An exploratory investigation using data from Cushitic Historical Grammar, "Prefixing Verb Class in Cushitic," resulted in a paper read at North American Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics (joint meeting with the American Oriental Society), held at the University of North Carolina in April. (Gene Gragg will be co-convener for the next such conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics, to be held at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in April 1994).

In other areas, besides the article, "Subject, Object, and Verb in Urartian: Prologue to Typology," which appeared in the Civil Festschrift, encyclopedia articles appeared, or are forthcoming on: "Peripheral Languages of the Ancient Near East" (Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, Scribners); "Ethiopic," "Hurrian," "South Arabic," "Semitic" (Encyclopedia of Near Eastern Archaeology, Oxford); "Elamite," "Babylonian Grammatical Texts" (Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, Pergamon); "Writing Systems: Peripheral Languages of the Ancient Near East" (The World's Writing Systems, Oxford). He has also written chapters in collective volumes: "Phonology of Ethiopic" (A. Kaye, ed., Introduction to the Phonology of Oriental Languages, Harrassowitz), "Ge'ez" (R. Hetzron, ed., The Semitic Languages, Routledge).

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