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 | 24.05. Colloquium on African linguistics: Attributive temporal clauses (Olguín Martínez)

24.05. Colloquium on African linguistics: Attributive temporal clauses (Olguín Martínez)

“‘At the time....’: Attributive temporal clauses in African languages and beyond” - Talk by Jesús Olguín Martínez (University of California, Santa Barbara) given within the digital colloquium of African linguistics and languages
  • When May 24, 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), please contact for Zoom access information)
  • iCal

It is a well-known fact that adverbial clauses expressing ‘when’ (e.g. Weʼll go when Tom gets here) can commonly be paraphrased, in many languages around the world, with a relative clause that appears with a Generic Head Noun (GHN) of time that is semantically empty (e.g. ‘Weʼll go at the time at which Tom gets here’) (Thompson et al. 2007: 245; Stassen 2009: 448; François 2010; Olguin Martinez 2020; Olguin Martinez 2022: ch 3).

This study presents an investigation of attributive temporal clauses encoded by a GHN meaning ‘time’, as in (1), in a sample of 15 African languages. While most studies have concentrated on the diachronic origin of this construction (Diessel 2019), no study has explored the synchronic properties of constructions encoded by a GHN of time (e.g. ‘At the time I went there, I felt sick’) that are used to express temporal adverbial semantic relations.

In exploring the construction, the study takes into account three parameters, viz. the linear position of the GHN of time, the encoding of GHNs of time in comparison to other relativized temporal nouns (e.g. ʽdayʼ, ʽyearʼ), and whether languages tend to have specialized or unspecialized GHNs of time to encode this construction.

Bunoge (Dogon)
(1) dénì  ŋ̀          ʔégè        nàŋgà,  dɔ̌:wɛ̀.
     time  1sg.sbj  come.pfv  time     die.pfv.3sg.sbj
     ‘He/She died at the time I came.’ (Heath 2014: 273)




Diessel, Holger. 2019. Preposed adverbial clauses: Functional adaptation and diachronic inheritance. In Karsten Schmidtke-Bode, Natalia Levshina, Susanne Maria Michaelis, & Ilja Seržant (eds.), Explanation in linguistic typology: Diachronic sources, functional motivations and the nature of the evidence, 97-122. Leipzig: Language Science Press.

François, Alexandre. 2010. Pragmatic demotion and clause dependency: On two atypical subordinating strategies in the Lo-Toga and Hiw (Torres, Vanuatu). In Isabel Bril (ed.), Clause linkage and clause hierarchy: Syntax and pragmatics, 499-548. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Heath, Jeffrey. 2014. A grammar of Bunoge. Ms.

Olguín Martínez, Jesús. 2020. Attributive temporal clauses in cross-linguistic perspective. Te Reo. The Journal of the Linguistic Society of New Zealand 63. 1-36.

Olguín Martínez, Jesús. 2020. Temporal adverbial clauses in the languages of the world: Clause-linking strategies. Santa Barbara: University of California, Santa Barbara doctoral dissertation.

Stassen, Leon. 2009. Predicative possession. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thompson, Sandra, Robert Longacre, & Shin Hwang. 2007. Adverbial clauses. In Timothy Shopen, (ed.), Language typology and syntactic description Vol 2 (2nd edition): Complex constructions, 237- 300. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.