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Department of Linguistics

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Deutscher Platz 6
D-04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 (0) 341 3550 - 300
fax: +49 (0) 341 3550 - 333

e-mail: cissewski@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de

Past Research

A Pan-dialectal Documentation of Taa

This project aims to document the language complex Taa spoken in southwestern Botswana and central-eastern Namibia. The project is funded within the DoBeS framework of the VW-Foundation and is carried out by an interdisciplinary team of three linguists, one anthopologist, and two student assistants.

The dialect cluster Taa (also known by the term !Xoon a.k.a. "!Xóõ") can be characterized as the last vital language of the Tuu (a.k.a. Southern Khoisan) family and is spoken by a socially and economically marginalized group of ca. 4000 people. The present project follows a first phase which was restricted to the Namibian varieties, West !Xoon and 'N|ohan, both of which had previously not been subject to in-depth research and documentation. While the linguistic differences between the two varieties turn out to be much greater than expected, the two speech communities are today heavily intermingled and depend socio-politically on each other in many ways. A reasonable analysis of Namibian Taa and a full understanding of the recorded data are only possible if the documentation includes the Taa communities in Botswana, at least in the form of a survey. The second project phase of two years, starting in August 2007, will deal with this topic, in addition to further work on the Namibian varieties. The linguistic work gives special emphasis to the identification of click parameters, the tonal system, semantic and morpho-syntactic aspects of noun classification, and serial verb constructions. Anthropological research focuses on ethno-history, cultural mapping including land use and subsistence patterns, as well as selected aspects of social organization.

Project Members



  • Gertrud Boden (University of Cologne)

Student assitants 

  • Juliane Böttger (Universität Leipzig)
  • Nadine Borchardt (Humboldt Universität Berlin)