LINGUIST List 22.4537

Sun Nov 13 2011

Calls: Syntax, Morphology, Typology, Historical Ling/Cameroon

Editor for this issue: Alison Zaharee <>

        1.     Dmitry Idiatov , History of Post-V Negation in African Languages

Message 1: History of Post-V Negation in African Languages
Date: 12-Nov-2011
From: Dmitry Idiatov <>
Subject: History of Post-V Negation in African Languages
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Full Title: History of Post-V Negation in African Languages
Date: 20-Aug-2012 - 24-Aug-2012 Location: Buea, Cameroon Contact Person: Maud Devos
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics; Morphology; Syntax; Typology

Call Deadline: 01-Dec-2011

Meeting Description:

History of Post-Verbal Negation in African Languages7th World Congress of African LinguisticsUniversity of BueaAugust 20-24, 2012

Notwithstanding a cross-linguistic tendency for negative markers to occur before the verb (Dryer 1988) there is an area in Africa where post-verbal negative markers abound. Following Dryer (2009:307) this area 'stretches from Nigeria across to the Central African Republic and down into the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo'. This region overlaps with the 'hotbed' of a large linguistic area referred to by Güldemann (2008) as the Macro-Sudan belt. The proposed workshop aims at a better understanding of the typologically unusual phenomenon of post-verbal negative markers and its history in the African context.


Maud Devos (Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren)Dmitry Idiatov (LLACAN-CNRS, Paris)


2nd Call for Papers:

We invite papers that take a closer look at post-verbal negative markers in African languages (within and beyond the area described above) and contribute to one of the following topics (or another topic relevant to post-verbal negation):

1. The position of the post-verbal negative marker: In the area identified by Dryer the post-verbal negative markers typically occur 'at the end of the clause, following any adverbs or adjunct phrases' (Dryer 2009:307). Outside the area the position of the post-verbal negative marker shows more variation. Data, mostly from Bantu languages, show that the post-verbal negative marker may also occur immediately after the verb (Devos et al. 2010), or that (pragmatically motivated) variation is possible (Odden 1996, Philippson & Nurse 2000).

2. The etymology of the post-verbal negative marker: What is the source of the post-verbal negative marker and especially are non-negative source meanings as suggested for Metta (Grassfields Bantu, Mihas 2009), Senufo (Gur, Carlson 1994), Ma (Adamawa-Ubangi, Tucker and Bryan 1966) and a number of Bantu languages (Devos & van der Auwera forthcoming) a recurrent phenomenon?

3. Post-verbal negative markers and 'Jespersen Cycles': For Bantu languages it has been suggested that post-verbal negative markers were originally used to reinforce negation and a fair number of Bantu languages display double, even triple negation. How valid is the Jespersen Cycle as a historical explanation for post-verbal negative markers in Africa and how recurrent is triple negation (involving post-verbal negative markers)?

4. Post-verbal negative markers and language contact: Following Güldemann (2008) post-verbal negation, more precisely the V-O-Neg word order pattern, is one of the linguistic features relevant for the Macro-Sudan belt. How does such a pattern diffuse? Nurse (2008:180) notes that some of the post-verbal negative markers in Bantu languages are Wanderwörter; they are easily transferred from one language to another. Do we find clear cases of borrowed post-verbal negative markers or is contact-induced grammaticalization (Beyer 2009) a more plausible scenario?

5. Stability of post-verbal negative markers: Can post-verbal negative markers be reconstructed for any significant time-depth, such as the level of a proto-family or a major branch of a family?

Following the general guidelines established for the submission of abstracts for WOCAL7, abstracts of no more than 500 words should be presented in two pages. The first page must contain the title of the paper, author's name, affiliation, postal address and email. The second page must be left anonymous, with only the title of the paper and the text of the abstract. Abstracts should be sent to:

Important Dates:

Deadline for abstract submission: December 1, 2011Notification of acceptance: December 20, 2011


Beyer, Klaus. 2009. Double negation-marking: A case of contact-induced grammaticalization in West Africa? In Norbert Cyffer, Erwin Ebermann & Georg Ziegelmeyer (eds.), Negation patterns in West African languages and beyond, 205-222. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Carlson, R. J. 1994. A grammar of Supyire. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Cyffer, Norbert, Erwin Ebermann & Georg Ziegelmeyer (eds.). 2009. Negation patterns in West African languages and beyond. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Güldemann, Tom. 2008. The Macro-Sudan belt: Towards identifying a linguistic area in northern sub-Saharan Africa. In Bernd Heine & Derek Nurse (eds.), A linguistic geography of Africa, 151-185. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Devos, Maud, Michael Tshibanda Kasombo & Johan van der Auwera. 2010. Jespersen cycles in Kanincin: Double, triple and maybe even quadruple negation. Africana Linguistica XVI, 155-181.Devos, Maud & Johan van der Auwera. forthcoming. Jespersen Cycles in Bantu: Double and triple negation.Dryer, Matthew S. 1988. Universals of negative position. In Michael Hammond, Edith Moravcsik & Jessica Wirth (eds.), Studies in Syntactic Typology, 93-124. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Dryer, Matthew S. 2009. Verb-object-negative order in Central Africa. In Norbert Cyffer, Erwin Ebermann & Georg Ziegelmeyer (eds.), Negation patterns in West African languages and beyond, 307-362. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Mihas, E. 2009. Negation in Metta. Rice Working Papers in Linguistics 1: 197-222.Nurse, Derek. 2008. Tense and Aspect in Bantu. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Odden, D. 1996. The phonology and morphology of Kimatuumbi. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Philippson, Gérard & Derek Nurse. 2000. Gweno, a little known Bantu language of Northern Tanzania. In Kitore Kahigi & Maarten Mous (eds.), Lugha za Tanzania/Languages of Tanzania, 233-84. Leiden: CNWS.Tucker, A.N. & M. A., Bryan.1966. Linguistic analyses. The non-Bantu languages of North-eastern Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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