LINGUIST List 33.217

Fri Jan 21 2022

Calls: Niger-Congo; Typology/Portugal

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 17-Jan-2022
From: Jakob Maché <>
Subject: Complex Predicates in Niger-Congo. Workshop at the 11th Iberian Conference on African Studies held at the Universidade de Lisboa
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Full Title: Complex Predicates in Niger-Congo. Workshop at the 11th Iberian Conference on African Studies held at the Universidade de Lisboa
Short Title: CIEA 11

Date: 06-Jul-2022 - 08-Jul-2022
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Contact Person: Jakob Maché
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:

Linguistic Field(s): Typology

Language Family(ies): Niger-Congo

Call Deadline: 13-Feb-2022

Meeting Description:

Niger-Congo is a highly diverse macro-family and at the same time one of the lesser studied with respect to syntax. This workshop panel aims at deepening the understanding of the uniformity and the variation of syntactic structures in this phyla. One main morpho-syntactic characteristic of Niger-Congo is the tendency to form complex predicates.

While Niger-Congo languages typically make use of preverbal tense, aspect, modality and polarity markers, there are at least two big manifestation of complex predication. First of all, there are serial verb constructions (SVCs) which are well attested in many subfamilies of the Volta- Congo branch, especially in Kwa (cf. Shluinsky 2017) and Benue (cf. Lord 1993, Déchaine 1993) but also in Gur (cf. Lord 1993: 128–129 for Kuusal and Dagbani, Hiraiwa and Bodomo 2008 for Dàgáárè) and Senufo (cf. Lord 1993) and also outside the Volta-Congo branch in Ijoid (cf. Williamson 1965, Carstens 2002). While most languages have discontinuous SVCs (SUBJ- V1-OBJ-V2), some languages such as Igbo make use of root serialisations (SUBJ-V1-V2-OBJ) for selected verb classes.
Secondly, there are languages that rather employ valency changing suffixes expressing func- tions like APPLICATIVE/BENEFACTIVE and others, which are usually expressed as SVC in lan- guages of the first type. As for Bantu languages, these suffixes are typically called verbal ex- tensions (cf. Voeltz 1977, Trithart 1983, Hyman 1993, 2007, Alsina 1992, Scott 1998, Bearth 2003: 126–127, Mchombo 2004, Van der Wal 2015). Apart from that, similar suffixes are attested in languages of the Atlantic branch like Wolof or Manjako (cf. Karlik 1972, Nouguier-Voisin 2002, Creissels and Nouguier-Voisin 2008). Some languages such as the Benue language Igbo are interesting because they make use of both SVC, root serialisation and verbal extensions (cf. Lord 1973,1977, Déchaine 1993), similar things hold for the Bamileke languages with the Bantoid group (cf. Hyman 1971, H. Keupdijo and C. Keupdijo 2021).

There are two alternative views, how SVCs relate to verbal extensions. On the one hand side, Givón (1971: 149–152) and Baker (1991) assume that verbal extensions are derived from an underlying SVC structure: V 2 is raised to V 1 attached to the left of it, turning V 1 into a verbal suffix of V 2 . Accordingly, Givón (1971: 158–159) assumes that Proto-Niger-Congo had a wide measure of verb serialisation and that verbal extensions emerged out of them. On the other hand side, Voeltz (1977: 72–82) and Hyman (2004) suggest that Proto-Niger-Congo had a much more pronounced system of verbal extensions, which are on the decline and in Benue-Kwa due to phonological attrition and that in these languages they have been almost entirely replaced by SVCs.

Call for Papers:

This panel invites contributions that are dedicated to one of the research questions given below or any other related question relevant to the matter here and which focus on languages that are con- sidered as Niger-Congo under any of the recent classifications (cf. Williamson 1989, Williamson and Blench 2000, Dimmendaal 2008, Güldemann 2018). Analyses from any theoretical frame- work are warmly welcome (CxG, cognitivsm, minimalism, constraint based approaches, quantitative corpus linguistics).

1. What is the relation between SVCs, root serialisation and verbal extensions (cf. Lord 1977, Déchaine 1993, Baker 1991)?
2. Which different types of SVCs, root serialisations and verbal extensions are to be identified in the relevant languages?
3. Is there any evidence to decide which lead on the diachronic relation between SVCs and verb extensions is the correct one?
(a) Did SVCs replace verb extensions due to the phonological attrition of the latter (cf. Voeltz 1977: 72–82, Hyman 2004)?
(b) Did verb extensions grammaticalise from SVCs (cf. Givón 1971: 158–159)
(c) How does Güldemann’s (2011) observation relate to this according to which the de- velopment of extreme morphological complexity of Bantu languages is rather to be considered a recent process?
4. What is the ultimate source of verbal extensions?
5. How do SVC and verbal extensions interact with preverbal tense, aspect, modality markers or negation?
6. How do West-African SVCs relate to SVCs in other macro-families?

Abstracts are accepted in the following languages: Portuguese, Castilian, English or French. Pa- pers can be presented in one of these four languages; however, simultaneous translation will not be available. Abstracts should not exceed 300 words, with the first 50 words for a short abstract and the remaining 250 words for a long abstract and should be submitted Before 13th February 2022 to the following interface, indicating the name of this panel. Successful papers will be confirmed by March 2022.

Further information can be found on the conference site:

Page Updated: 21-Jan-2022