Annotated Swadesh wordlists for the Katla-Tima group (Kordofanian family).

Languages included: Katla [kat-ktl]; Tima [kat-tim].


I. Katla.

MacDiarmid & MacDiarmid 1931 = MacDiarmid, P. A.; Mac\-Diar\-mid, D. N. 1931. The langua\-ges of the Nuba Mountains. Sudan notes and records 14: 149-162. // A general survey of the Nuba Mountain region, complete with very brief illustrative wordlists for all the languages covered by the authors.

Meinhof 1916 = Meinhof, Carl. 1916. Sprachstudien im egyptischen Sudan. 4. Eliri. 5. Lafofa. 6. Tumtum. 7. Kanderma. 8. Kawama. 9. Lumun. 10. Schabun. 11. Tegele. 12. Rashad. 13. Koalib. 14. Katla. 15. Tima. 16. Miri. 17. Kudugli. 18. Kurungu. 19. Nyima. Zeitschrift für Kolonial\-sprachen, Band VII, pp. 36–80, 105–133, 212–250, 326–335. // Collected results of Carl Meinhof and other researchers' fieldwork in Sudan. The 1916 issue largely deals with various subgroupings in the Kordofan area (Kordofanian and Krongo-Kadugli languages).

Stevenson 1957 = Stevenson, Roland C. 1957. A survey of the phonetics and grammatical structure of the Nuba Mountains languages. Afrika und Übersee 41: 27-65, 117-152, 171-196. // This publication, among other things, provides a brief, but informative sketch of the grammars of Katla-Tima, well illustrated by lexical material.

II. Tima.

Alamin 2012 = Alamin, Suzan. 2012. The Nominal and Verbal Morphology of Tima. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag. // Detailed description of Tima morphology, well illustrated by lexical and paradigmatic examples.

Schneider-Blum 2013 = Schneider-Blum, Gertrud. 2013. A Tima-English Dictionary. An illustrated lexicon of a Niger-Congo Language spoken in the Nuba Mountains (Sudan). Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag. // Large dictionary of the Tima language, reasonably well illustrated by examples of usage.


I. Katla.

I.1. General.

Katla (Kaalak), represented by two close dialects (Katla proper and Julud), is spoken by about 25,000 people in the Katla Hills (Janub Kurdufan state). As late as the mid-20th century, it remained altogether better documented than its nearest relative, Tima, but today things have changed: as it is, published sources offer no possibility of properly completing a reliable and well-unified Swadesh wordlist for Katla. Available sources are limited to: (a) a small glossary in [Meinhof 1916], assembled from several sets of records by different people and predictably suffering from phonetic inaccuracy; (b) a list of about 20 words in [MacDiarmid & MacDiarmid 1931]; (c) some forms and paradigms in [Stevenson 1957], both re-quoted from the MacDiarmids as well as from the author's own field research.

Altogether, this does not amount to much, and even if all sources are utilized as primary (which generally runs against GLD principles), they only allow to fill in slightly over half of the Swadesh wordlist. Nevertheless, we believe that it is still useful to include Katla in the database, since it is the only known language that is undeniably related to Tima, turning the database into a group-level one (rather than isolate-level), and the comparative data offers some small insights into the prehistory of these languages. Hopefully, new data on Katla (or published archival data) will eventually become available.

I.2. Transliteration.

Differences between the transcription system used in [Stevenson 1957] and the UTS system are as follows:

Stevenson 1957 UTS Notes
t̩, d̩ t̪, d̪ Dental plosives.
c, j ɕ, ʓ Palatal plosives/affricates.
ʃ š
ny ɲ
VV Long vowels.

Stevenson mentions tone (high and low) for Katla, but only records it several times to mark minimal tonal pairs. Where tonal notation is present, we preserve it in the entries.

Transcription in [Meinhof 1916] is fairly complex (as it always happens with Meinhof's publications on African languages), but no attempts are made to distinguish between phonemic contrasts and allophony, and phonetic accuracy is quite questionable. We largely omit Meinhof's tonal notation; replace his e_, o_ with UTS ɛ, ɔ, and leave everything else as it is.

II. Tima.

II.1. General.

Although Tima is currently spoken by only about 5,000 people in Jebel Tima (Janub Kurdufan state), today, thanks to the keen interest of several prominent researchers, it actually boasts a much more detailed level of description than its bigger neighbor, Katla: in addition to multiple papers dealing with specific aspects of the language, there is at least one extensive description of its nominal and verbal morphology [Alamin 2012], and at least one extensive and highly accurate dictionary [Schneider-Blum 2013], which serves as the main source for our wordlist. Because of this, older sources (such as the brief wordlists of Meinhof and the McDiarmids, or the scant comparative data in [Stevenson 1957]) have not been involved in the construction of the wordlist, although it might make sense to occasionally consult them for etymological purposes.

II.2. Transliteration.

Both Alamin and Schneider-Blum, whose data are eligible for inclusion into the primary slot, generally rely on IPA-based transcription. Tima has a symmetric 12-vowel system (+ATR: i, e, ʌ, o, u, ɨ and -ATR: ı, ɛ, a, ɔ, ʋ, ɘ) and two tonal registers (high and low), systematically marked on the data. In respect to consonantism, the only cosmetic changes from Alamin's and Schneider-Blum's transcriptions are: c > ɕ, j > ʓ.

Database compiled and annotated by: G. Starostin (last update: October 2017).