(14/05/2019) Elisabeth and Zhen on fieldwork

Since 10 March, Lis has been in Cameroon to discover information structure in Tunen, and since 10 May, Zhen is in Congo Brazzaville to study Teke (Kukuya). Both languages show interesting information structural mechanisms, for example the particle á in Tunen, which Lis is testing for properties of exhaustivity using the BaSIS methodology.PHOTO-2019-05-17-10-46-35

(photo: Elisabeth and one of the Tunen language consultants)

(Spring 2019) BaSIS reading group on information structure in Bantu languages

For anyone who is interested, the BaSIS project organises a fortnightly reading group on information structure in Bantu languages, at the LUCL. See here for the schedule and further information.

(01/02/2019) An intense month of Rukiga information structure

In Kabale, Allen and Jenneke were fortunate to find the wonderful Ronald, Joel, and Pamellah, native speakers of Rukiga, to discover how information structure is expressed in their language. In a bit more than 2 weeks time the team worked their way through a list of diagnostics, recorded stories about wise owls and recipes for traditional porridge, and already entered more than 1,000 sentences in the Dative database.

Linguistic highlights were the discovery of an agreeing contrastive topic particle (as in 1), the residue of a conjoint/disjoint alternation, and the augment on adjectives and other modifiers triggering exclusive focus on the modifier (as in 2). Analyses for these phenomena are currently being written up!

(1)  e-nté             z-ó,     a-ryá-zi-rí-is-a
     aug-10.cows 10-ct 1sm-fut-10om-eat-caus-fv
     ‘As for cows, he will graze them.’ 
     - implying that other animals or other jobs he won't do.
(2)  páápa  (#o-)mu-kúru  y-aa-h'                 ó-ru-bázo
     1.pope (aug-)1-old       1sm-n.pst-give  aug-11-speech
     ‘The old Pope gave a speech.’
     - if the augment o- were present, it means that there are young Popes as well
(with thanks to Wilbert van Vliet for the photos)

(09/01/2019) Allen and Jenneke start their work

This January Allen and Jenneke will investigate information structure in Rukiga! The first week Allen learned a lot about information structure, and Jenneke learned about Rukiga and gave a talk for the department at Makerere University, Kampala (see picture). The next three weeks will be spent in Kabale to gather data from other native speakers of the language.


(12/11/18) Leonie Barabas-Weil starts internship

As part of her MA in Linguistics at Utrecht University, Leonie will spend 3 months at the BaSIS project, investigating inversion constructions and agreement in Lubukusu (JE31c, Kenya). Welcome, Leonie!

(15/10/18) Zhen Li starts as PhD candidate

We welcome Zhen Li as a new team member to the project! Zhen will focus on information structure in the Teke languages (B70, Congo, Gabon). Zhen completed his BA studies at Peking University and his MA thesis in African linguistics at SOAS (London), studying comparative verb morphology in Bantu languages of Cameroon and Gabon. Zhen’s experience and wide linguistic knowledge will no doubt help the project, and we are happy to have him at Leiden University!

(3/9/18) Elisabeth Kerr starts as PhD candidate

The project has a new member with Elisabeth Kerr starting her PhD research! Lis will focus on information structure in Tunen (A44, Cameroon), a language that is particularly interesting because of its unusual basic word order (SOV). Lis has completed her BA at the University of Cambridge and her MA at SOAS (London), with theses on information structure in Ekegusii (JE42, Kenya) and the conjoint/disjoint alternation in Zulu (South Africa). We are very happy to welcome her at Leiden University!

(9/7/18) Sintu 7 workshop on information structure

Allen and Jenneke organised a workshop on information structure within the Sintu 7 conference, held in Cape Town. The presentations were livestreamed and can still be accessed on the ALASA/Sintu7 facebook event page.

Using tekst constituent charts to investigate information structure in Bantu languages Steve Nicolle
Focus and theticity across Bantu Yukiko Morimoto
Topic-based flexible nominal licensing in Bantu Jenneke van der Wal
The augment as an exclusive focus marker in Runyankore-Rukiga Allen Asiimwe
Activation states and word order in relation to definiteness Eva-Marie Bloom-Ström
Adverbial clauses and word order in Mozambican Ngoni Heidrun Kröger


(18/4/2018) Amani at Dar es Salaam research week

Amani Lusekelo presented the BaSIS project in the research week at the University of Dar es Salaam, 18-20 April 2018. Many linguists and non-linguists showed interest in the poster showing the main points of the project.


PhD position open

We’re happy to announce that the BaSIS project has a 4-year fully funded position for a PhD student, starting on 1 September 2018. This PhD subproject is intended to describe and analyse the morphosyntax of information structure in Tunen, spoken in Cameroon. For full details on the position and how to apply, see the advertisement by Leiden University; for more information on the content of the project, see the project description; and for other questions please contact Jenneke van der Wal.

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