African linguistics across the disciplines: Selected papers from the 48th Annual Conference on African Linguistics

Samson Lotven   Silvina Bongiovanni   Phillip Weirich   Robert Botne   Samuel Gyasi Obeng  


Since the hiring of its first Africanist linguist Carleton Hodge in 1964, Indiana University’s Department of Linguistics has had a strong and continuing presence in the study of African languages and linguistics through the work of its faculty and of its graduates on the faculties of many other universities. Research on African linguistics at IU has covered some of the major language groups spoken on the African continent. Carleton Hodge’s work on Ancient Egyptian and Hausa, Paul Newman’s work on Hausa and Chadic languages, and Roxanna Ma Newman’s work on Hausa language structure and pedagogy have been some of the most important studies on Afro-Asiatic linguistics. With respect to Niger-Congo languages, the work of Charles Bird on Bambara and the Mande languages, Robert Botne’s work on Bantu structure (especially tense and aspect), Samuel Obeng and Colin Painter’s work on Ghanaian Languages (phonetics, phonology, and pragmatics), Robert Port’s studies on Swahili, and Erhard Voeltz's studies on Bantu linguistics are considered some of the most influential studies in the sub-field. On Nilo Saharan languages, the work of Tim Shopen on Songhay stands out. IU Linguistics has also forwarded theoretical work on African languages, such as John Goldsmith’s seminal research on tone in African languages. The African linguistics faculty at IU have either founded or edited important journals in African Studies, African languages, and African linguistics, including Africa Today, Studies in African Linguistics, and Journal of African Languages and Linguistics.

In 1972, the Indiana University Department of Linguistics hosted the Third Annual Conference of African Linguistics. Proceedings of that conference were published by Indiana University Publications (African Series, vol. 7). In 1986, IU hosted the Seventeenth Annual Conference of African Linguistics with Paul Newman and Robert Botne editing the proceedings in a volume entitled Current Approaches to African Linguistics, vol. 5. In 2016, Indiana University hosted the 48th Annual Conference on African Linguistics with the theme African Linguistics Across the Disciplines. Proceedings of that meeting are published in this volume.

The papers presented in this volume reflect the diversity of opportunities for language study in Africa. This collection of descriptive and theoretical work is the fruit of data gathering both in-country and abroad by researchers of languages spoken across the continent, from Sereer-sin in the west to Somali in the northeast to Ikalanga in the south. The range of topics in this volume is also broad, representative of the varied field work in country and abroad that inspires research in African linguistics. This collection of papers spans the disciplines of phonology (both segmental and suprasegmental), morphology (both morphophonological and morphosyntactic), syntax, semantics, and language policy. The data and analyses presented in this volume offer a cross-disciplinary view of linguistic topics from the many under-resourced languages of Africa.


  • Syllable structure and loanword adaptation in Fròʔò
    Yranahan Traoré, Caroline Féry
  • Variable word-final vowel deletion and reduction in Gurmancema
    A maximum entropy model
    Maggie Baird
  • Toward a better knowledge of speech-language disorders in African countries
    The case of speech articulation disorders in Cameroon
    Aurelie Takam
  • Efik nominal tonal alternations as phrasal morphology
    Eleanor Glewwe
  • Number and animacy in the Teke noun class system
    Larry M. Hyman, Florian Lionnet, Christophère Ngolele
  • Tone, orthographies, and phonological depth in African languages
    Michael Cahill
  • Prosodic restructuring in Somali nominals
    Laura J. Downing, Morgan Nilsson
  • DP-internal structure and agreement in Nafara
    Bertille Baron
  • Complement clause C-agreement beyond subject phi-agreement in Ikalanga
    Rose Letsholo, Ken Safir
  • Optional past tense in Wolof
    M. Ryan Bochnak, Martina Martinović
  • The syntax of experiencers in Sereer-siin
    Khady Tamba
  • Focus in Limbum
    Laura Becker, Imke Driemel, Jude Nformi Awasom
  • Universal quantification in the nominal domain in Kihehe
    Kelly Kasper-Cushman
  • A closer look at bi
    An epistemic indefinite analysis
    Augustina P. Owusu
  • The semantics of -ø-…-íle in Nyamwezi
    Ponsiano Sawaka Kanijo
  • Logophoricity in Ibibio
    Lydia Newkirk
  • Control of logophoric pronouns in Gengbe
    Thomas Grano, Samson Lotven



Samson Lotven

Samson Lotven is a PhD candidate in Linguistics at Indiana University. His research focuses on the phonetics and phonology of under- and un-documented languages, consonant-pitch interaction, sociolinguistic and dialectal variation, and community building in language documentation.

Silvina Bongiovanni

Silvina Bongiovanni is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Romance and Classical Studies at Michigan State University. She received a dual PhD in Linguistics and Hispanic Linguistics from Indiana University where she also received her MA in Hispanic Linguistics. Her work centers on phonetic and phonological variation and seeks to understand how the complex connections between physical instantiation, linguistic interpretation, and phonotactic distribution of sounds come together to shape linguistic variation. In her primary line of research, she examines within- and across-regional patterns of variation in nasality, both in vowels and in consonants, with dialects at different stages of sound change. 

Phillip Weirich

Phillip Weirich is a PhD candidate in Linguistics at Indiana University. He studies dialectology and language attitudes, focusing on the interface of sociophonetic variation and beliefs about variation. His dissertation considers language variation across the state of Indiana and the effect that such variation has on individual patterns of speech perception and production.

Robert Botne

Robert Botne is a professor at Indiana University. His research focuses on Bantu languages. His primary areas of interest are tense, aspect, and lexical semantics.

Samuel Gyasi Obeng

Samuel Gyasi Obeng is Professor of Linguistics, an affiliated faculty member in the School of Global and International Studies, and a faculty member of Indiana University’s Honors Program. He also holds adjunct faculty positions in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Islamic Studies, African American & African Diaspora Studies, and in the African Studies Program (which he directed from 2007 to 2015). His research interests are in African linguistics, Firthian phonology, conversational phonetics, and discourse-pragmatics focusing on the entwining of language and politics, law, natural conversation, and therapeutic discourse. He has published or edited 29 books, over 100 papers in refereed journals and book chapters, and 25 book reviews. Dr. Obeng also writes poetry in English and Akan (three books) and political satire in various national and international newspapers using different pen names.


November 14, 2018
LaTeX source on GitHub
Cite as
Lotven, Samson, Bongiovanni, Silvina, Weirich, Phillip, Botne, Robert & Obeng, Samuel Gyasi (eds.). 2018. African linguistics across the disciplines: Selected papers from the 48th Annual Conference on African Linguistics. (Contemporary African Linguistics 5). Berlin: Language Science Press. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3520612


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Details about the available publication format: PDF


ISBN-13 (15)


Publication date (01)




Details about the available publication format: Hardcover


ISBN-13 (15)