International Conference on “Reconstructing Proto-Bantu Grammar”

I’ll be traveling to Ghent, Belgium in November to participate in the International Conference on “Reconstructing Proto-Bantu Grammar” . I’ve been invited to speak about Proto-Bantu lexical aspect (based on joint research with Bastian Persohn) and, as time allows, to also make some notes about Proto-Bantu mood and modality. I’m so excited about this conference and getting to collaborate with many of the modern giants of Bantu linguistics!

WOCAL 2018 Rabat

Dr. Bastian Persohn, a close collaborator on all things related to Bantu verbal morphosemantics, presented our joint work at the 2018 WOCAL Conference in Rabat, Morocco, on 26 August. The presentation, “Coming-to-be in Bantu: Towards an ontology and epistemology of inchoative verbs”, on was based on an article we are currently revising for publication in Linguistic Typology.  Bastian is pictured above giving our presentation – I wish I could have participated in person (and visited Morocco)!

Conference: Descriptive Grammars and Typology, March 2019

My colleagues  Rigina Ajanki, Ekaterina Gruzdeva, Arja Hamari, and Matti Miestamo and I will host an international conference on “Descriptive grammars and typology: the challenges of writing grammars of underdescribed and endangered languages” at the University of Helsinki on 27–29 March 2019.

Keynote speakers:

Abstracts are due on 30 September 2018. See the call for papers for more details. The topics are dear to my heart, and I’m extremely excited for this gathering of experts studying languages from around the world.

The conference webpage, which is still under construction, can be visited here.

Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science

I am very pleased to be one of the newest members of the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science, a multidisciplinary research group at the University of Helsinki that was established in January 2018. It’s exciting to be part of a group that approaches sustainability issues from holistic perspectives, and to have opportunities to collaborate on projects working towards global environmental and social justice. Below are paraphrased excerpts from my application to Institute.

Language documentation involves not only “preserving” languages for diversity research purposes or the use of heritage speakers, but also working to empower individuals and speaker communities to be advocates for their linguistic rights and make their own decisions about language use. Linguistic rights issues are complex because they involve many actors, competing values, and limited resources. In addition, the multilingual settings in which many minority languages are spoken present numerous challenges for implementing sound language policies.

Education and the empowerment of minority communities are intertwined. Both are crucial for other sustainability efforts in which marginalised communities are involved as primary agents and not merely as the recipients of aid or the objects of externally imposed sustainability policies.

Forthcoming: Constituency, imbrication, and the interpretation of change-of-state verbs in isiNdebele

The paper “Constituency, imbrication, and the interpretation of change-of-state verbs in isiNdebele“, which I coauthored with Axel Fleisch, will appear in a forthcoming special issue of Studia Orientalia Electronica.

Abstract: This paper describes the interplay of lexical and grammatical aspect with other grammatical phenomena in the interpretation of the aspectual suffix ‑ile (which we analyse as Perfective) in isiNdebele, a Nguni Bantu language spoken in South Africa. Crucial “other” phenomena include constituency-related factors such as the conjoint-disjoint distinction and (relatedly) penultimate lengthening, along with morphophonological conditions that trigger different forms of ‑ile. These factors appear to interact differently in isiNdebele than they do in closely related isiZulu, suggesting two different paths of grammaticalization, which we argue can change the interpretation of markers of grammatical aspect as they interact with lexical aspectual classes.

Congratulations to Hilde Gunnink on her excellent PhD defense!

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of traveling to Ghent to serve on the jury of then PhD-candidate Hilde Gunnink‘s defense. She did a marvellous job throughout, and I was honoured to be on the jury together with Nancy Kula (University of Essex), Mark Van de Velde (CNRS), and Maud Devos (RMCA and Ghent University). Dr. Gunnink’s outstanding thesis, A Grammar of Fwe, makes a tremendous contribution to the field and will be of interest to theorists and typologists for many years to come.

(I was also able to visit the van Eyck brothers’ Adoration of the Mystic Lamb for the second time – always a moving experience.)

Talk at University of Gothenburg: Evaluating approaches to aspect in Bantu

I am excited to be giving a guest lecture at the University of Gothenburg on 1 March, 2018. I’ll be talking about various models of grammatical aspect, and how they fare when applied to Bantu languages, with their complex lexicalizations of state-change verbs. I’ll give a preliminary version of the talk at the Helsinki Area and Language Studies monthly seminar this Friday (23 March 2018, 14-16:00).

Göteborgs universitet - huvudb

Edited volume forthcoming: Revealing Structure

I am pleased to announce that the volume Revealing Structure: Papers in honor of Larry M. Hyman, co-edited by Jeff Good, Eugene Buckley, and myself, will be published by CSLI in July 2018. It contains a wide-ranging set of papers by many of the distinguished linguists with whom Larry (my PhD advisor,  frequent collaborator, mentor, and dear friend) has worked over the years, united “by the investigative method they employ in revealing grammatical patterns”. All of us involved with the project are indebted to Larry for both his incredible body of scholarly work and his amazing generosity of spirit.

Header image credits

Most photos are by me or my husband, John Ringhofer.

Artwork in photos in rotating home page/top image:

Ndebele artwork above by Lina Maphosa

These Ndebele-style painted buildings are in Mapoch Cultural Village in South Africa. Their community-based tourism program is less active than in earlier years, but is still worth a visit.