SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics

Hannah Gibson

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Hannah Gibson
Department of Linguistics

British Academy Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

Auxiliary constructions in Ngoreme and Simbiti: a descriptive account

Principal Investigator

Pathways of change at the northern Bantu borderlands

Principal Investigator

Dr Hannah Gibson
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21/22 Russell Square
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I am currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Linguistics. My research examines language contact and language change with a focus on the Bantu languages of East Africa.


  • Philological Society
  • Linguistics Association of Great Britain



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.


Book Chapters

Gibson, Hannah and Koumbarou, Andriana and Marten, Lutz and van der Wal, Jenneke (2017) 'Locating the Bantu conjoint/disjoint alternation in a typology of focus marking.' In: van der Wal, Jenneke and Hyman, Larry M., (eds.), The conjoint/disjoint alternation in Bantu. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 61-99. (Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs)

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)


Chatzikyriakidis, Stergios and Gibson, Hannah (2017) 'The Bantu-Romance-Greek connection revisited: processing constraints in auxiliary and clitic placement from a cross-linguistic perspective.' Glossa, 2 (1, 4). pp. 1-39.

Gibson, Hannah (2016) 'A unified dynamic account of auxiliary placement in Rangi.' Lingua, 184. pp. 79-103.

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, 52 (3). pp. 565-607.

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 Jul 27 03:07:30 2017 BST.