Makary Kotoko, a Chadic language spoken in the flood plain directly south of Lake Chad in Cameroon, has an estimated 16,000 speakers. An analysis of a lexical database for the language shows that of the 3000 or so distinct lexical entries in the database, almost 1/3 (916 items) have been identified as borrowed from other languages in the region. The majority of the borrowings come from Kanuri, a Nilo-Saharan language of Nigeria, with an estimated number of speakers ranging from 1 to 4 million. In this article I first present the number of borrowings specifically from Kanuri relative to the total number of borrowed items in Makary Kotoko, and the lexical/grammatical categories in Makary Kotoko that have incorporated Kanuri borrowings. I follow this by presenting the linguistic evidence which not only suggests a possible time frame for when the borrowings from Kanuri came into Makary Kotoko, but also supports the idea that this is essentially a case of completed language contact. After discussing the lexical and grammatical borrowings from Kanuri into Makary Kotoko in detail, I explore the limited evidence in Makary Kotoko for lexical and grammatical ‘calquing’ from Kanuri, resulting in almost no structural diffusion from Kanuri into Makary Kotoko. I finish with a few proposals as to why this is the case in this instance of language contact in the Lake Chad basin.
A Grammar of Makary Kotoko, Sean Allison provides a thorough description and analysis of Makary Kotoko - a Central Chadic language of Cameroon, framing the discussion within R.M.W. Dixon’s (2010a, 2010b, 2012) Basic Linguistic Theory. Working with an extensive corpus of recorded texts supplemented by interactions with native speakers of the language, the author provides the first full grammar of a Kotoko language. The detailed analysis of the phonology, morphology, syntax, and discourse features of Makary Kotoko is from a functional/typological perspective. Being based on a large number of oral texts, the analysis provides an example-rich description showing the range of variation of the constructions presented while giving insights into Kotoko culture.