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Visualizing the Boni dialects with Historical Glottometry


This paper deals with the historical relations between dialects of Boni, a Cushitic language of Kenya and Somalia. Boni forms the subject of Volume 10 of the Language and Dialect Atlas of Kenya (Heine & Möhlig 1982). Heine presents evidence for three subgroups within Boni, as well as several areas of convergence between dialects belonging to different proposed subgroups. In reviewing his evidence, I find that two of the three splits are not supported by the data, and therefore his conclusions on convergence must also be reinterpreted. Given the presence of numerous intersecting isoglosses, the tree diagram is an inappropriate model for describing the relations between Boni dialects, and I turn to Historical Glottometry (Kalyan & François 2018) to provide a visualization of the data.

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