The numeral system of Proto-Niger-Congo: A step-by-step reconstruction

Konstantin Pozdniakov  


This book proposes the reconstruction of the Proto-Niger-Congo numeral system. The emphasis is placed on providing an exhaustive account of the distribution of forms by families, groups, and branches. The big data bases used for this purpose open prospects for both working with the distribution of words that do exist and with the distribution of gaps in postulated cognates.  The distribution of filled cells and gaps is a useful tool for reconstruction.

Following an introduction in the first chapter, the second chapter of this book is devoted to the study of various uses of noun class markers in numeral terms.
The third chapter deals with the alignment by analogy in numeral systems.
Chapter 4 offers a step-by-step reconstruction of number systems of the proto-languages underlying each of the twelve major NC families, on the basis of the step-by-step-reconstruction of numerals within each family.
Chapter 5 deals with the reconstruction of the Proto-Niger-Congo numeral system on the basis of the step-by-step-reconstructions offered in Chapter 4.
Chapter 6 traces the history of the numerals of Proto-Niger-Congo, reconstructed in Chapter 5, in each individual family of languages.

Konstantin Pozdniakov

Konstantin Pozdniakov is a professor at INALCO (Paris; African and comparative linguistics, Wolof) and a researcher at LLACAN (CNRS). He earned his 1st PhD at the Russian Academy of Sciences (Comparative historical analysis of Mande languages, Moscow, 1978) and his habilitation from the St. Petersburg State University (Comparative historical grammar of Atlantic languages, St. Petersburg, 1995). He has authored various publications on Atlantic reconstruction and the noun classes in Niger-Congo. His research interests include Niger-Congo comparative linguistics, use of statistics for comparative studies, phonotactic universals, and the deciphering of the Easter Island writing system. He is currently working on the Etymological comparative dictionary of Atlantic languages. In 2011-2016 he was a member of Institut Universitaire de France where he realised the project “Noun class systems of Atlantic languages in the Niger-Congo context”.


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