LING 497 - Capstone Seminar
Section: 001 African Linguistics
Term: FA 2017
Subject: Linguistics (LING)
Department: LSA Linguistics
Enforced Prerequisites:
LING 313, 315 and 316.
May be elected twice for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

Students who have survived basic linguistic courses are introduced in this capstone course to the great remaining linguistic terra incognita. The African continent hosts about half of the world’s extant languages, few of which have been professionally described and some of which are only now being identified.

After a quick continent-wide survey of language families, we will study a range of phonological, morphosyntactic, and sociolinguistic topics of special importance to Africa. Grammatical topics include clicks, ATR systems and vowel harmony, tone sandhi, tonal ablaut, tonosyntax, grammaticalized “intonation,” ideophones, noun classes, the semantics of action verbs, unusual “case” systems, verbal voice (passives and applicatives), imperative “subjects,” verb-serialization, logophorics, and the structure of quotations. Historical and sociolinguistic topics include areal distributions (for example of clicks), methods for detecting substrata and borrowing, speech-taboo registers, the development of creoles and trade languages, the contribution of African languages to Atlantic creoles, and recently burgeoning “urban youth languages.” Some attention will be paid to how linguistics and genetics, with help from archeology and fossil analysis, can combine to illuminate the origins of African linguistic and ethnic groups, in the wake of genetic findings that all modern humans in the rest of the world combined represent a relatively recent out-migration from a much older population in Africa.

Students will read journal and handbook articles on numerous languages, will analyse data sets, and will have occasional sessions with native speakers. For the final paper (and public poster presentation), each student will choose a topic that challenges existing linguistic and sociolinguistic theories.

LING 497 - Capstone Seminar
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
002 (SEM)
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:30PM
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