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

31.01. Colloquium on African linguistics: Nominal form marking systems in Mel (Schulze)

“Comparison of nominal form marking systems in the Mel languages” - Talk by Michael Schulze (HU Berlin, Ph.D. project) given within the colloquium of African linguistics and languages
  • When Jan 31, 2023 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

The Mel languages of Sierra Leone and Liberia are a small group within Niger-Congo and can be divided into two branches. While there is some genealogical distance between Northern and Southern Mel, the languages are closely related within each branch. The Mel languages have Niger-Congo-type nominal classification systems with affixal marking of nominal forms and agreement marking on dependent elements (for the methodological separation of nominal form and agreement marking see Güldemann & Fiedler 2019). The Northern Mel system of nominal form marking is strictly prefixing and resembles systems found in Bantu. Southern Mel has more complex systems with both prefixes and suffixes. Notably in Kisi of Southern Mel, a clear separation between nominal form marking and agreement is hardly possible. The talk will give a comparative overview of nominal form marking systems in Mel. Though focused on nominal forms, agreement classes have to be considered, too, especially in cases of zero-marked nominal forms.


Güldemann, Tom & Ines Fiedler. 2019. Niger-Congo “noun classes” conflate gender with declension. In Francesca Di Garbo & Bernhard Wälchli (eds.), Grammatical gender and linguistic complexity, 85-135. Berlin: Language Science Press.