It was about one and a half years ago that I finally I arrived where I had always wanted to be and do what I had always wanted-- teach students, support small language communities and conduct research on African languages on my doorstep. The University of Cape Town and my new colleagues welcomed my efforts to establish the Centre for African Language Diversity-- CALDi as well as The African Language Archive-- TALA and I was recently appointed the Mellon Research Chair: African Language Diversity this initiative. The main aim of CALDi is to train young African scholars in descriptive linguistics and open up space for research into African languages at UCT with the hopes of countering the dominance of African linguistics outside the continent. It has been a great challenge for which my whole career has been a form of preparation...Read more
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Syncope as the Cause of <i>Präteritumschwund</i>: New Data from an Early New High German Corpus
This paper examines the cause of the decline of the preterite tense in favor of the present perfect tense in Early New High German. This development has long been attributed to apocope, which rendered the 3sg. weak preterite suffix -te homophonous with the 3sg. present suffix -t. By analyzing a database of over 20,000 past-tense clauses, this study evaluates the apocope account and more recent hypotheses. The resulting data lead to a new explanation: syncope in the 2sg. and 2pl. of weak verbs yielded dispreferred final clusters (-tst and -tt), resulting in a preference in these contexts for the present perfect, which then spread to other contexts.