Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences | Department of Asian and African Studies | Regional Departments | African Studies | Events | Upcoming Events | 03.05. Colloquium on African linguistics: Erratic velars in West-Coastal Bantu: Explaining irregular sound change (Bostoen)

03.05. Colloquium on African linguistics: Erratic velars in West-Coastal Bantu: Explaining irregular sound change (Bostoen)

“Erratic velars in West-Coastal Bantu: Explaining irregular sound change in Central Africa” - Talk by Koen Bostoen (Univerity of Ghent) given within the digital colloquium of African linguistics and languages
  • When May 03, 2022 from 04:15 to 05:45
  • Where Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften, Invalidenstr. 118, room 410 & via Zoom
  • Contact Name Christfried Naumann (christfried.naumann (AT) hu-berlin.de, please contact for Zoom access information)
  • iCal

This talk is about “multiple unconditioned reflexes” (MURs) in Bantu, more specifically of Proto-Bantu velar stops *k and *g in the West-Coastal Bantu (WCB) branch of the Bantu language family. MURs, also known as “doubles reflexes” in Bantu studies, represent a situation where one and the same proto-sound has two or more reflexes in a given language which cannot be accounted for by phonological conditioning and/or lexical borrowing. This diachronic irregularity has been explained in Bantu historical linguistics, and Niger-Congo studies more broadly, by reconstructing either an additional series of consonants (phonemic merger) or a latent conditioning that went lost (phonemic split). It is argued that MURs should not be explained, but rather taken as an indicator of the same pervasive irregularity of sound change reported in other parts of the world that are highly multilingual and lack a neat overlap between distinct languages and communities. Along with widespread multilingualism, lexical diffusion, substrate influence, and spread-overspread events in Bantu language history are assessed as complementary explanations for the rise of MURs in WCB.