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 | 08.02. Colloquium on African linguistics: Phonotactics and word formation in Limassa (Winkhart)

08.02. Colloquium on African linguistics: Phonotactics and word formation in Limassa (Winkhart)

“Phonotactics and word formation in Limassa (Ubangi, Niger-Congo)” - Talk by Benedikt Winkhart (HU Berlin, Ph.D. project) given within the digital colloquium of African linguistics and languages
  • When Feb 08, 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

Limassa is a hitherto undescribed language of the Baka-Gundi branch of the Mundu-Baka family (UBANGI), spoken along the Sangha River in the north of the Republic of the Congo. Since it has only few speakers and is highly endangered to become extinct, the central goal of my dissertation project is a thorough linguistic description. This talk will address the phonotactics of Limassa and how its rules fundamentally shape this language. I will describe which syllable types are permissible and which characteristics but also which limitations there are across the lexicon. Building upon this, I will give an overview of the valid word shapes that result from the existing syllable types. However, morphological validity does not account for phonological validity in the case of Limassa. Therefore, a distinction must be made between grammatical and prosodic words. The prosodic unit of the mora is crucial in this respect. Limassa enforces phonotactic regulations through its lexicon, which are known as minimality constraints. Such constraints are driven by the need to prosodically augment otherwise subminimal words. In Limassa, a phonologically valid word must consist of at least two morae. This phenomenon affects large parts of the lexicon, namely all content words, which will be at the focus of discussion. In fact, Limassa has a largely monosyllabic repertoire, a substantial proportion of which is also monomoraic. Thus, in order to produce permitted words, the language interposes morphophonological solution paths. To shed light on these, I present the different strategies of word formation that take effect.