By Birgit Hellwig

This is the 1st description of Goemai, a West Chadic language of Nigeria. Goemai is spoken in a language touch region, and this touch has formed Goemai grammar to the level that it may be thought of a pretty untypical Chadic language. The grammar provides the constitution of the present-day language, relates it to its diachronic assets, and provides a semantic point of view to the description.

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Two important candidates for inherited semantic patterns are (i) a sensitivity towards the lexical aspect and thematic roles of verbs (resulting in strategies that affect the semantics and syntax of verbs); and (ii) the predominant lexicalization of verbs as state-change verbs (resulting in strategies that derive activity and stative 16 Introduction expressions). That is, Goemai and other Chadic languages very likely share semantic patterns that motivate the existence of some grammatical strategies.

The discussion in this section is based on the K'wo dialect of Goemai, but data from the Duut and Dorok dialects are taken into account whenever possible. 13 Table 11. J ask bat spoil care hunt enlarge straight fetch hang (SG) 13. The K'wo data is taken from my own fieldwork; the Duut data from discussions with Ohikere, and from Ohikere and Tiemsan (1998, 1999) and Tiemsan (1999); and the Dorok data from Kraft (1981 ). Notice that my own Dorok data differs from the data reported in Kraft. It is possible that my data reflects influence from other dialects (as I have collected it from speakers who live in an urban environment and who interact on a daily basis with speakers of other dialects).

3). This section discusses in more detail the phonemes and tonemes, their distribution and their realization. Whenever possible, comparative Chadic data is taken into account. 4 on tones. 5 then summarizes the orthographic conventions adopted. 1. 1 for other positions). The most striking and typologically unusual aspect of the Goemai consonant system is its contrast among the obstruents: between voiceless aspirated, voiceless non-aspirated, voiced and, in some places, implosive. Cross-linguistically, a contrast between aspirated and non-aspirated consonants is well-attested in stops, but rare in fricatives (Ladefoged and Maddieson 1996: 66-70, 176-179).

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