Dog, cattle, sheep: what livestock vocabulary can tell us about the early spread of pastoralism in southern Africa
The early spread of pastoralism into southern Africa has been associated with people speaking languages of the Khoe-Kwadi family. Using the lexical database Tsammalex to trace the geographical spread of terms for domesticates, we argue that these stone-age food-producers came with sheep and dogs, but neither had cattle nor goats. Borrowing patterns further suggest a close interaction between the incomers and local foragers speaking languages of the Kx’a and Tuu families. Some Khoe-Kwadi terms strongly associated with pastoralism and milk consumption can be shown to be borrowings from Non-Khoe which display a shift or specification in meaning, e.g. ‘squeeze out’ > ‘milk’. The linguistic hypothesis suggesting an intrusion of sheep-herding food-producers into southern Africa before the arrival of the Bantu, about 2000 BP, is supported by findings from archaeology and molecular anthropology.