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

31.05. Colloquium on African linguistics: Grammatical relations in Khoekhoegowab (Job)

“Aspects of Grammatical relations in Khoekhoegowab: From Argument-marking to Word Order” - Talk by Sylvanus Job (HU Berlin, Ph.D. project) given within the digital colloquium of African linguistics and languages
  • When May 31, 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

In this talk I will look at argument marking and its relation to grammatical functions in Khoekhoe clauses. The talk will give an exhaustive treatment of nominal encoding strategies in Khoekhoegowab based on corpus data. It will show how discourse participants with variable semantic roles are mapped onto syntactic arguments by means of flagging (i.e. case and adpositional marking, Haspelmath 2019), and word order. There are roughly four ways in which arguments are encoded in Khoekhoe. These range from a rather rare expression of a bare nominal (with no person-gender-number marker whatsoever) to nominals encoded by means of morphology. These encoding strategies will be discussed against the backdrop of the linear order of the arguments in the clause, namely word order.

Moreover, the talk will demonstrate that the motivation behind morphological encoding of arguments in Khoekhoe clauses, whilst painting a precarious picture from a semantic (roles) point of view, is much clearly explained along pragmatic lines, i.e. by means of information structure. Such apparently close relations between morphosyntactic structures and pragmatic categories in Khoekhoe clauses mirror a noticeable tendency reported for other African languages in their expression of information structure (see Güldemann et al. 2015).


Güldemann, Tom and Zerbian, Sabine and Zimmermann, Malte. 2015. Variation in information structure with special reference to Africa. Annual Review of Linguistics, 1, 155-178.

Haspelmath, Martin. 2019. Indexing and flagging, and head and dependent marking. Issue in Honour of Frantisek Lichtenberk, Te Reo, 62(1), 93-115.