Chapter published in:Grammatical and Sociolinguistic Aspects of Ethiopian Languages
Edited by Derib Ado, Almaz Wasse Gelagay and Janne Bondi Johannessen †
[IMPACT: Studies in Language, Culture and Society 48] 2021
► pp. 35–61
The ensete in Gurage
Nomenclature, use and meaning extension
The aim of this article is to investigate the way Gurage people name the diverse ensete (Ensete ventricosum) varieties and how that naming categorises varieties of the plant. It also attempts to describe lexical entities associated with ensete and its products, meaning extensions of ensete names and the associated vocabularies in everyday language use, such as in proverbs and insults. The study follows cross-sectional research design and qualitative methodology. Key consultant interviews and interview guides were used as a method and tool, respectively. Eight key consultants from Gumer, Chaha, Inor, Ezha, and Gyeta participated in the study. The findings show that there are about 71 ensete varieties in Gurage. The people classify ensete varieties according to color, size, value, propensity, source of the plant, height, and other variables. The lexical nets related to the plant, its products and byproducts are significantly large and qualify documenting them as part of lexicography. Some ensete variety names are metaphorically used to insult someone, as in g j ɨnb w ə ‘obese’ and in proverbs, as in g j ɨnb w ə ɨhata birəzɨn t’onata jɨm w əsɨn [Gynbuwe its.water heavy.on.it its.power it. seems.to it] ‘When the ensete variety Gynbuwe carries much water in its stem, it considers itself as an entity that has much power’. The study can help linguists, anthropologists, and ethno-botanists in studying the interaction between man, language and nature, in this case the ensete plant.
Keywords: culture, ensete, Gurage, nomenclature, semantics
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Published online: 23 April 2021
Gurage Culture Tourism and Communication [GCTC]
Haile Seifu Weldeyohannes