The Proto-Semitic “Asseverative *la-” and the Innovative 1SG Prefixes in South Ethio-Semitic Languages
The prefix conjugation of all South Ethio-Semitic languages contains an innovative prefix *l(V)- or its traces. However, its distribution along the various subtypes of the prefix conjugation paradigms varies. Its appearance in the jussive positive and negative paradigms seems to be shared by all South Ethio-Semitic languages. On the contrary, the fate of the prefix *l(V)- in the imperfect paradigm differs from one subgtoup to another.
Its grammatical value is not stabile, either: in some languages it is restricted to 1st sg., in others it appears both in sg. and pl. of the 1st person.
The presentation offers an overview of the various patterns of employment of the innovative personal prefix *l(V)- in South Ethio-Semitic. Some of the collected isoglosses can plausibly be considered as a result of a common innovation introduced at a certain stage of the development of a certain language subgroup. Still, one cannot fail to notice a number of isoglosses that contradict each other, which can be explained either in terms of an independent parallel development or of language contact. Special attention is given to the most important factors that excersized influence upon the development of the SES systems of verbal personal prefixes. It turns out that some of these factors are present in languages from other branches of Ethio-Semitic and Semitic, which demonstrate similar shifts in their systems of verbal prefixes.
In conclusion, a coherent and convincing reconstruction of the evolution of the prefix conjugationn in South Ethio-Semitic is offered.