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 | 26.10. Colloquium on African linguistics: The subjunctive complementizer ‘mek’ in Naijá (Schneider)

26.10. Colloquium on African linguistics: The subjunctive complementizer ‘mek’ in Naijá (Schneider)

"The functional and formal range of the subjunctive complementizer ‘mek’ in Naijá aka ‘Nigerian Pidgin English’" - Talk by Luisa Schneider (HU Berlin, Master project) given within the digital colloquium of African linguistics and languages
  • When Oct 26, 2021 from 04:15 to 05:40
  • 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

Naijá (also known as Nigerian Pidgin), with 80 to 120 Million speakers, constitutes the most widely spoken “Afro-Caribbean English-lexifier Creole” (AEC) (Yakpo 2020: 63) and African language (aside from Arabic) existing on the globe today (Ihemere 2006; Faraclas & Delgado 2021). Despite its status as a “low-stigmatized” language variety (Ofulue 2011) associated with moderate prestige, Naijá continues to expand towards domains formerly occupied by Nigerian indigenous languages and ex-colonial language varieties such as English or Nigerian English (Igboanusi 2008; Yakpo 2020). Without claiming complexity, the primary objective of this study is to obtain a deeper understanding of the formal and functional variability of the subjunctive mood mek. This study is based on the descriptive grammar of Naijá by Faraclas (1996) and the areal-typological investigations of the subjunctive mood in AECs and major West African substrate and adstrates of Yakpo (2012, 2021) and Yakpo & Smith (2020). The spoken corpus NaijaSynCor (2019) has been used as a testbed for the qualitative and quantitative analysis, and the data were examined using the electronic corpus manager Sketch Engine (Kilgarriff & Rychl 2003). The grammatically salient subjunctive mood mek introduces directives as functional units (Freudinger 2013) to express “deontic” modality such as commands, obligation, permission, and the speaker’s opinion towards a proposition. Furthermore, directives operate within six functional domains, such as subordinate complement clauses of strong “deontic” and weak “deontic” CTVs (Yakpo 2021). The subjunctive complementizer mek is instantiated in the “purposive”-type (Song 2013) of periphrastic causative constructions and is used to introduce purpose clauses and result clauses. The cross-linguistic analysis with Naijá’s major substrate and adstrates Yoruba, Igbo and Ijo shows that Naijá shares the most pertinent formal and functional commonalities with the subjunctive complementizer ki in Yoruba. Even though much less investigated, evidence for similiarities with the subjunctive mood ka in Igbo and mịẹ in Ijo will be presented. Semantic features such as the subjunctive complementizer mek are often areal (Yakpo 2021) and might indicate an areal transfer (Yakpo 2017; Yakpo & Smith 2020). However, such vague implications can be just confirmed if further research and language documentation are pushed forward.

Caron, Bernard. 2019. NaijaSynCor: A corpus-based macro-syntactic study of Naija (Nigerian Pidgin). (26 August, 2019).
Faraclas, Nicholas G. 1996. Nigerian Pidgin. London: Routledge.
Faraclas, Nicholas G. & Sally J. Delgado. 2021. Creoles, Revisited: Language Contact, Language Change, and Postcolonial Linguistics. [S.l.]: Routledge.
Freudinger, M. 2013. Syntactic Perspectives on Directive Speech Acts: A Contrastive Study.
Ihemere, Kelechukwu U. 2006. A basic description and analytic treatment of noun clauses in Nigerian Pidgin. Nordic Journal of African studies 15(3). 296–313.
Kilgarriff, Adam & Pavel Rychlý. 2003. Sketch Engine: Lexical Computing Ltd.
Ofulue, Christine I. 2011. Nigerian Pidgin and West African Pidgins: A sociolinguistic perspective. Paper presented at the SPCL Conference, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana.
Song, Jae J. 2013. Periphrastic Causative Constructions. In Matthew S. Dryer & Martin Haspelmath (eds.), The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
Yakpo, Kofi. 2012. Betwixt and between: Causatives in the English-lexicon creoles of West Africa and the Caribbean. In, 9–39.
Yakpo, Kofi. 2017. Towards a model of language contact and change in the English-lexifier creoles of Africa and the Caribbean. English World-Wide 38(1). 50–76.
Yakpo, Kofi. 2021. Subjunctive complements in the English-lexifier creoles of Africa and the Americas. Paper presented at Labex EFL "Variation syntactique dans les langues créoles" on 16 April 2021.
Yakpo, Kofi & Norval Smith. 2020. The Atlantic. In Umberto Ansaldo & Miriam Meyerhoff (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Pidgin and Creole Languages (Routledge Handbooks in Linguistics), 179–198. London: Routledge.