When I was tidying up my filing cabinet some days ago, I found an old press-clipping again that was written by Birgit Pielen about my fieldwork in Baskeet in 2008/2009. It occurred in the local newspaper (Rhein-Zeitung) of the area I come from in Germany. I’d like to share the article with you here:
(Sorry to all people who can’t read German!) The article speaks about my path from a little German village (my birth place) to a village in South Ethiopia. It describes my living conditions in the field and it explains to the readership what linguistic fieldwork is about (in my case, a lot of walking, recording, transcription). There’s even some Baskeet data in the article – the journalist presents a tonal minimal pair to the readers!
The largest picture shows me surrounded by Kantso Kammo and his family. Kantso Kammo’s home was the first home outside the little town of Laska that I visited when I started my work on Baskeet in 2008. Kantso Kammo is the traditional religious leader (kaati) of the Kalmina’-clan and he is one of my best consultants on Baskeet religion, cultural practices and oral literature. After all, it was Kantso Kammo who sang the first Baskeet wedding and mourning songs for me and made me listen to Baskeet lyre music for the first time. His story of the civet cat (sung and accompanied on the lyre) is considered by Baskeet native speakers to be one of the best lyre performances that I recorded. It is thanks to Kantso Kammo that I became interested in Baskeet songs and designed the project that I am currently working on.
The small picture to the left shows neighbours and friends of my host family (Kasu Mohammed’s family) slaughtering sheep for a sadaqa meal during Ramadan 2008. Laska has a small Muslim community whose members immigrated from Wollo in the Amhara region and from the Jimma area in the Oromo region three or four generations ago.
The small picture to the right shows two women sharing a calabash of beer. Baskeet, by the way, has a separate ‘drink’-verb for ‘drink from the same vessel at the same time’ (si’ide). Sharing a drink is considered a sign of affection. I’d be interested to know whether there are any other Omotic languages out there which have lexicalised this type of drinking – don’t hesitate to post a comment below.