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Department of Linguistics

Dr Hannah Gibson



Hannah Gibson
Department of Linguistics

British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Pathways of change at the northern Bantu borderlands

Principal Investigator

Auxiliary constructions in Ngoreme and Simbiti: a descriptive account

Principal Investigator

Dr Hannah Gibson
Email address:
21/22 Russell Square
Office No:


  • Philological Society
  • Linguistics Association of Great Britain


  • 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.


Jump to: Articles


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.

This list was generated on Fri Oct 9 00:30:55 2015 BST.