Osculance in Bantu reconstructions: a case study of the pair -ka?dang/-ka?ng- (?fry?, ?roast?) and its historical implications

Koen Bostoen


In historical linguistics, variation functions as an indicator of historical evolution. The set of Proto-Bantu reconstructions contains multiple slightly divergent forms and/or meanings which supposedly have a common origin based on their strong resemblance, but which cannot be directly connected by means of established Bantu phonological shifts or known semantic shifts. The term "osculance" has been used to refer to this phenomenon. As a likely sign of non-ascertained dialectal variability and unknown historical relations at or even beyond the ProtoBantu level, these "osculant" clusters deserve more detailed study. Prerequisite to detailed study of these clusters, however, is determination of the genuineness of the osculance. In this paper, some exploratory tracks are set out via a case study of the sample pair o-kadang-/O-kang- (to fry, to roast).

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