Anne-Maria Fehn (CIBIO-InBIO/UP) | October 24, 2014 - 14h30 | CIBIO’s Auditorium, Campus de Vairão




In many parts of the world, the complex history of human populations can only be unravelled through joint efforts between researchers from various disciplines, such as genetics, archaeology, cultural anthropology and linguistics. The study of languages from a genealogical and areal perspective can provide valuable information on the relationships, interactions and movements of the people who speak them. This talk discusses the possibilities and limits of using linguistic data in population research by focusing on two case studies from the Khoisan (‘click’) languages of southern Africa: The first deals with the Kwadi language formerly spoken by pastoralists in southwestern Angola and its relationship with languages of the Kalahari Basin. The second looks at the Botswanan language Ts’ixa sharing grammatical features associated with the unrelated Ju (or !Xun) language, even though the two do not share a history of contact.


Anne-Maria holds an M.A. in African studies from the University of Cologne where she just finalised her Ph.D. From 2010 to 2013, Anne-Maria worked on the documentation of Ts’ixa, a highly endangered Kalahari Khoe language spoken in northern Botswana, which has been shaped by contact between both related and unrelated Khoisan languages. Between 2012 and 2014, she was employed as a coordinator in the “Kalahari Basin Area” project at the Humboldt University in Berlin. This project focused on the population history of the Kalahari Basin and included cooperation between linguistics, genetics and cultural anthropology.
In January 2014, she came to participate in CIBIO-InBIO’s ongoing research on the peopling of southwestern Angola and now joined the HUMANEVOL group as a researcher in the project “Towards a multidisciplinary population profiling of southern Angola”. Within the frame of this project, Anne-Maria got to work with two rememberers of Kwadi, a language thought extinct since the 1960s. In addition, she did a survey of various dialects of the Bantu language Herero found in Namibe province, Angola, which serves as a starting point for future research on Herero varieties spoken by former hunter-gatherers, in particular Kwisi and Twa.


[Group Leader: Jorge Rocha, Human Evolutionary Genetics]


* António de Oliveira de Cadornega (1681) on his first encounter with the ‘Khoisan’-speakers of Angola


Image credits: Anne-Maria Fehn