The Range and Beauty of Internal Reconstruction: Probing Hausa Linguistic History

Paul Newman


Using examples from Hausa, this paper demonstrates the probative value of Internal Reconstruction (IR) as a method for unearthing linguistic history. Five developments in the history of Hausa discovered by means of IR are described. These are Klingenheben’s Law; two previously unrecognized diphthongs, *iu and *ui; the emergence of the phoneme /h/ from a phonetic feature of word onset; vowel lowering resulting in asymmetry in plural formation; and the preservation of an archaic third person singular masculine pronoun *ni in fixed compounds.
Keywords: Hausa, Klingenheben’s Law, historical linguistics, internal reconstruction, diphthongs, compounds

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