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Studies in African Linguistics
Number of Followers: 0  

  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Print) 0039-3533 - ISSN (Online) 2154-428X
Published by U of Florida Homepage  [12 journals]
  • Nominal tonology and spreading rules in Tagbana (Fròʔò

    • Authors: Annie Rialland, Yranahan Traore, Caroline Féry
      Pages: 167 - 195
      Abstract:  In this article, nominal tonology of Tagbana, a Senufo language of Côte d’Ivoire is investigated. The contribution of this article is twofold as it concerns the whole tonal system, including lexical tones, sandhi tone rules, and the organisation of the prosodic hierarchy. It is shown that Tagbana has three level tones (L, M, H) and two floating tones (H) and (L). A mid tone (M) at the end of a noun is always followed by a floating tone (either H or L), which might be a historic trace left by the tone of a Class Marker. Two clusters of sandhi tonal rules are shown to play a role, called ‘Mid Replacement rules’ (RepM) and ‘Spreading rules on H & L’ (SprH&L). The domains of the sandhi tonal rules are studied in some detail, from the Minimal Prosodic Word (root + class marker), the Intermediate and Maximal Prosodic Words (nominal and adjectival compounds), the Prosodic Phrases (particularly in object + verb constructions), to the Intonational Phrase. Considering the prosodic levels above the Minimal Prosodic Word, more tonal sandhi processes are found to apply in smaller prosodic domains than in larger ones. 
      PubDate: 2021-09-18
      DOI: 10.32473/sal.v50i2.117236
      Issue No: Vol. 50, No. 2 (2021)
  • The morphology of argument marking in Zaghawa-Wagi

    • Authors: Isabel Compes
      Pages: 196 - 226
      Abstract: This paper presents an analysis of the system of argument marking on the verb in Zaghawa. Zaghawa, also called Beria in the literature, is a Saharan language of the Nilo-Saharan language phylum spoken in the border region of Sudan and Chad. Like other Saharan languages, it has complex verbal morphology including person indexing. The primary aim of the study is descriptive in that it presents linguistic data of the underdescribed Wagi dialect which is mainly spoken in Sudan. First, the paradigm of bound verbal affixes and their morphology is described. Secondly, one of the functions of the final morpheme of the verb which has not yet been described in detail in previous studies on Zaghawa is analysed. This final morpheme interacts with the person indexes to mark plural participants, and it is exploited to mark a morphological category not yet recognized in the other dialects of Zaghawa: the exclusive/inclusive distinction in the 1st person plural. Therefore, the study provides new data on the Zaghawa verb system and contributes a further detail to our knowledge of the Nilo-Saharan language family.
      PubDate: 2021-09-18
      DOI: 10.32473/sal.v50i2.118531
      Issue No: Vol. 50, No. 2 (2021)
  • Actionality and aspect in Southern Ndebele and Xhosa, two Nguni languages
           of South Africa

    • Authors: Thera Marie Crane, Bastian Persohn
      Pages: 227 - 284
      Abstract: This paper presents some key findings of studies of actionality and the verbal grammar–lexicon interface in two Nguni Bantu languages of South Africa, Xhosa and Southern Ndebele. We describe interactions between grammatical tense marking (and other sentential bounding elements) and lexical verb types, arguing for the salience of inchoative verbs, which lexically encode a resultant state, and, in particular, a sub-class of inchoative verbs, biphasal verbs, which encode both a resultant state and the “coming-to-be” phase leading up to that state. We further discuss other important features of actional classes in Xhosa and Southern Ndebele, including topics such as the role of participant structure and the relative importance of cross-linguistically prominent distinctions such as that between Vendlerian activities and accomplishments. Although differences between Xhosa and Southern Ndebele are evident both in the behaviour of individual tense-aspect forms and in the interpretive possibilities of specific verbs, the general patterns are quite similar. This similarity suggests that the patterns are likely to extend to other Nguni languages, as well, and that cross-linguistic comparison of particular lexical items across these languages are both feasible and likely to bear fruit. Note: Changes were made to the title of this article after publication, on 9/23/2021.
      PubDate: 2021-09-18
      DOI: 10.32473/sal.v50i2.123680
      Issue No: Vol. 50, No. 2 (2021)
  • Reconstructing West-Coastal Bantu Vocabulary as Evidence for Early Banana
           Cultivation in Central Africa

    • Authors: Sifra Van Acker, Sara Pacchiarotti, Edmond De Langhe, Koen Bostoen
      Pages: 285 - 325
      Abstract: Lexical data has been key in attempts to reconstruct the early history of the banana (Musa sp.) in Africa. Previous language-based approaches to the introduction and dispersal of this staple crop of Asian origin have suffered from the absence of well-established genealogical classifications and inadequate historical-linguistic analysis. We therefore focus in this article on West-Coastal Bantu (WCB), one specific branch within the Bantu family whose genealogy and diachronic phonology are well established. We reconstruct three distinct banana terms to Proto-West-Coastal Bantu (PWCB), i.e. *dɪ̀‑ŋkòndò/*mà‑ŋkòndò ‘plantain’, *dɪ̀‑ŋkò/*mà‑ŋkò ‘plantain’ and *kɪ̀‑túká/*bì‑túká ‘bunch of bananas’. From this new historical-linguistic evidence we infer that AAB Plantains, one of Africa’s two major cultivar subgroups, already played a key role in the subsistence economy of the first Bantu speakers who assumedly migrated south of the rainforest around 2500 years ago. We furthermore analyze four innovations that emerged after WCB started to spread from its interior homeland in the Kasai-Kamtsha region of Congo-Kinshasa towards the Atlantic coast, i.e. dɪ̀‑kòndè ‘plantain’, kɪ̀‑tébè ‘starchy banana’, banga ‘False Horn plantain’, and dɪ̀‑tòtò ‘sweet banana’. Finally, we assess the historical implications of these lexical retentions and innovations both within and beyond WCB and sketch some perspectives for future lexicon-based banana research. Note: Changes were made to the title of this article after publication, on 9/20/2021.
      PubDate: 2021-09-19
      DOI: 10.32473/sal.v50i2.122286
      Issue No: Vol. 50, No. 2 (2021)
  • Tone alternation in Dàgáárè verbs: Perfectives and

    • Authors: Alexander Angsongna
      Pages: 326 - 345
      Abstract: While previous studies on Dàgáárè tone have looked at the nouns, this paper particularly examines tone in verbs, perfective vs imperfective forms. The verbal system has different patterns based on the form of the verb. There are three tone classes for Dàgáárè verbs and for each of the classes, the surface tone pattern it exhibits in the perfective is systematically different from the tone patterns in the imperfective. For the perfectives we have L, H and HL while the imperfectives have LH, HL and H!H, at least in the dialect under study. I treat tone as a combination of the features [±upper] and [±raised] which are connected to what is described as a Tone node (T-node). These Tone nodes in turn connect to the syllable. Under this system, I assume L is represented with the features [-upper] and [-raised] and H with the features [+upper] [+raised]. Underlying tonal melodies of the root morphemes are identical to the surface tones of the perfective forms whether these contain an overt suffix or not. For the imperfectives, the suffix comes with an unspecified underlying T-node. The grammar then chooses the features [±upper] and [±raised] to insert under the already existing T-node.  
      PubDate: 2021-09-18
      DOI: 10.32473/sal.v50i2.125996
      Issue No: Vol. 50, No. 2 (2021)
  • A Grammatical Description of Leteh Nominal Morphology

    • Authors: Mercy Akrofi Ansah
      Pages: 346 - 363
      Abstract: : The paper describes Leteh nominal morphology within the framework of Basic Linguistic Theory (Dixon 2010; Dryer 2006). The nominal morphology is described in the context of two phenomena: number marking and noun classification. Leteh is a South-Guan language from the Niger-Congo family of languages. The morphology of Leteh is largely agglutinative. Güldemann and Fiedler (2019) argue that current analyses of gender systems are heavily influenced by those in Bantu languages and not cross-linguistically applicable. They propose an alternative analysis that includes the notions agreement class and nominal form class. In this paper I adopt the notion of nominal form class to classify nouns in Leteh. The nouns are grouped into four major classes based on the plural morphemes that they take. These classes are subdivided based on the singular forms with which they are paired. Keywords: Leteh, nouns, morphology, classification, nominal form class, affixes Note: Changes were made to the title and abstract of this article after publication, on 9/20/2021.
      PubDate: 2021-09-18
      DOI: 10.32473/sal.v50i2.125661
      Issue No: Vol. 50, No. 2 (2021)
School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK
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