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

29.06. Colloquium on African linguistics: Cognates in 'South Atlantic' (Schulze)

"Finding cognates in ‘South Atlantic’" - Talk by Michael Schulze (HU Berlin, Ph.D. project) given within the digital colloquium of African linguistics and languages
  • When Jun 29, 2021 from 04:15 to 05:45 (Europe/Berlin / UTC200)
  • Where via Zoom
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My PhD project deals with the historical-comparative reconstruction of the nominal classification systems of the Mel languages (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia). Traditionally, the Mel languages are grouped together with the single languages Gola and Limba as a “South Atlantic” family, being itself a subgroup of Atlantic (Niger-Congo). Nowadays, however, the existence of “South Atlantic”, is put into question by many scholars. One of the principal tasks within the PhD project is to find as many cognate nouns in the Mel languages as possible in order to achieve a proper analysis of the historical development of the nominal classification systems. Within the two branches of Mel, Northern and Southern Mel respectively, cognates can usually be recognized straightforwardly. Between the branches, however, the number of obvious cognates is rather limited. In my talk, I will show, that an application of the classical historical-comparative method on the basis of regular sound correspondences yields many more cognates which at first sight have not been detected, due to some complex sound correspondences between Northern and Southern Mel. If one applies this strict method for a comparison between Mel and the two single languages of “South Atlantic” Limba and Gola, even here, many cognates come to the surface which have not been obvious before. This is, of course, no proof of the existence of “South Atlantic”, but a strong hint that the cohesion between these languages may be stronger than generally thought.