SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Word-order, information structure and language contact in Bantu

Key note speaker: Maarten Mous (University of Leiden)

Date: 1 February 2013Time: 9:30 AM

Finishes: 1 February 2013Time: 5:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 116

Type of Event: Workshop

Bantu languages are well-known for their comparatively free word-order in structural terms, where word-order in the sentence (and to a lesser extent in noun phrases) is often determined by information structure, but also interacts closely with verbal agreement marking of arguments and adjuncts, as well as with prosody. Furthermore, information structure is often marked through specific morphosyntactic means such as conjoint-disjoint distinctions or information-structure related use of verbal derivation. Recent research on Bantu has also shown the extent of variation found in Bantu morphosyntax in particular with respect to agreement and word-order – for example in various subject inversion constructions. At least some of this variation is likely due to language contact – intra-Bantu contact between speakers of different Bantu languages as well as extra-Bantu contact through multilingual situations involving Bantu languages in addition to, for example, Cushitic, Nilotic or Khoisan languages.

The present informal workshop brings together researchers interested in Bantu word-order, information structure or language contact and in particular in the interaction between two or more of these aspects.

A SOAS African Linguistics Research Group event. Contact and enquiries: Lutz Marten ( 

All welcome!

Programme (all talks in Room 116)

  • 9.30-9.40 Welcome and introductions
  • 9.40-10.20 Peter Edelsten (SOAS): Information structure constraints on Swahili word-order
  • 10.20-11 Rufin Batota Mpeho (London Metropolitan University): Word order in Lingala: cleft sentences, fronting, relatives clauses and verb valence changing
  • 11-11.30 Kakia Chatsiou (ELAR, SOAS): African language collections in the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Archive
  • 11.30-11.50 Tea break
  • 11.50-12.50 Maarten Mous (University of Leiden): Object between TAM and Verb in Nyokon (Bantu A45, Cameroon)
  • 1-3 Lunch (please note that the room will be used for another event at this time) (please let me know if you would like to join a communal lunch at TAS – the cost will be about £25)
  • 3.10-3.50 Lutz Marten (SOAS): Discourse-bound pronoun drop in Yeyi as a Khoisan contact feature
  • 3.50-4.30 Teresa Poeta (SOAS): Non-standard Swahili applicatives
  • 4.30-5.10 Jenneke van der Wal (Cambridge University): Subordinate clauses and exclusive focus in Makhuwa
  • 5.10 Close and votes of thanks

Organiser: SOAS African Linguistics Research Group

Contact email: Lutz Marten (