SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics

Hannah Gibson

  • Overview
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Publications



  • Dynamic Syntax (2013-14)
  • Intermediate Syntax, Department of Linguistics (2010-11) 
  • Intermediate Syntax, Department of Linguistics (2008-09)
  • Swahili I, Africa Department (2006-07)


I am a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Linguistics. My current research examines grammatical change in six Bantu languages spoken in Kenya and Tanzania: Rangi, Mbugwe, Gusii, Kuria, Ngoreme and Suba-Simbiti. These languages all exhibit post-verbal auxiliary placement in restricted syntactic contexts. This feature is considered unusual from a typological and comparative perspective since SVO languages and East African Bantu languages most commonly exhibit auxiliary-verb order.

This project examines to what extent this feature (and others) can be considered to be the result of contact-induced language change, or whether they are more appropriately thought of as reflecting language-internal processes of grammaticalisation. The project explores what types of grammatical change are - and are not - possible with a view to better understanding the universal phenomenon of language change.

My doctoral research examined aspects of morphosyntax in the Tanzanian Bantu language Rangi. Despite otherwise Bantu-typical head-final syntax, Rangi is unusual in that it exhibits post-verbal auxiliary placement. My thesis "Auxiliary placement in Rangi: A Dynamic Syntax perspective" provides a descriptive account of this erstwhile under-described phenomenon in Rangi. The thesis also provides a formal analysis of this non-canonical constituent order from the perspective of the Dynamic Syntax theoretical framework.

Syntax, morphosyntax, African linguistics, Bantu languages, language contact, historical language change, multilingualism, syntax-semantics interface.


Book Chapters

Gibson, Hannah and Marten, Lutz (2016) 'Variation and grammaticalisation in Bantu complex verbal constructions: The dynamics of information growth in Swahili, Rangi and siSwati.' In: Nash, Léa and Samvelian, Pollet, (eds.), Approaches to Complex Predicates. Leiden: Brill, pp. 70-109. (Syntax and Semantics)

Journal Articles

Seraku, Tohru and Gibson, Hannah (2016) 'A Dynamic Syntax modelling of Japanese and Rangi clefts: Parsing incrementality and the growth of interpretation.' Language Sciences , 56 (2016). pp. 45-67.

Gibson, Hannah and Wilhelmsen, Vera (2015) 'Cycles of negation in Rangi and Mbugwe.' Africana Linguistica, 21 . pp. 233-257.

Marten, Lutz and Gibson, Hannah (2015) 'Structure building and thematic constraints in Bantu inversion constructions.' Journal of Linguistics . pp. 1-43. (Forthcoming)

Gibson, Hannah (2015) 'The dynamics of structure building in Rangi: At the Syntax-Semantics interface.' Cambridge Occasional Papers in Linguistics, 8 . pp. 41-55.

Gibson, Hannah (2013) 'Auxiliary placement in Rangi: A case of contact-induced change?' SOAS Working Papers in Linguistics, 16 . pp. 153-166.

Book Reviews

Gibson, Hannah (2016) 'A review of Klaus Zimmerman & Birte Kellemeier-Rehbein (eds.), Colonialism and missionary linguistics (Colonial and Postcolonial Linguistics 5). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2015. pp. x+266.' Journal of Linguistics, 52 (1). pp. 236-241.

This list was generated on Thu May 26 00:30:44 2016 BST.