When Languages Meet

ISBN 978-3-89645-257-3

When Languages Meet

Language Contact and Change in West Africa

Edited by: Norbert Cyffer, Georg Ziegelmeyer. With a preface by: Georg Ziegelmeyer, Norbert Cyffer. With contributions by: Ari Awagana, Rotimi Badejo, Sergio Baldi, Norbert Cyffer, Abubakar Umar Girei, Doris Löhr, Valentin Vydrine, Georg Ziegelmeyer.

Series: TIAS Topics in Interdisciplinary African Studies Volume 13

6 pp. Roman, 160 pp.
1 diagram, 27 tables
Text language(s): English, French
€ 39.80

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The contributions published in this volume were prepared within the framework of the research project Sprachliche Innovation und Konzeptwandel in Westafrika [Linguistic Innovation and Conceptual Change in West Africa] of the Institute for African Studies at the University of Vienna. The purpose of the project was to examine the linguistic situation in West Africa with respect to language contact and change in its various facets. The linguistic situation of the West African Sahel region is characterized by ongoing social, historical, ecological and economical transformations.

In this volume various aspects of linguistic dynamics which were caused by these transformations are examined. The editors believe that linguistic structures are not only charcterized by genetic affiliation, but also to large extent through language contact. While, at first sight, this is evident in the lexicon (e.g. borrowings), its traces are more intricate to detect in phonology, morphology or syntax.

In connection with linguistic contact phenomena this volume particularly explores the following aspects – strategies of adoption of differing tonal systems, phonetic/phonological sound adaptation, alterations of T(ense)A(spect)M(ood) systems through language contact, syntactic subordination on different structural levels, sentence/clause structures which are influenced by contact, borrowing of function words, reduction of dialect features as an outcome of language contact, dynamism of code-switching and code-mixing, semantic shift in loan words.

Among others, the following phyla have been analysed:

Afro-Asiatic: Arabic, Buduma, Hausa
Nilo-Saharan: Kanuri
Niger-Congo: Adamawa Ful, Kru, Mande, Yoruba.

This volume aims to contribute to the framework of research for universals and new global tendencies of linguistic change.


Georg Ziegelmeyer / Norbert Cyffer: Foreword

Norbert Cyffer: Cause and reason in Kanuri – The impact of areality on linguistic change

Doris Löhr: Reduction of dialectal features in Kanuri as outcome of language contact

Ari Awagana: Quelques aspects des interférences kanuri–buduma

Georg Ziegelmeyer: The Hausa particle koo – A widely spread formative in northern Nigeria

Valentin Vydrine: Areal features in South Mande and Kru languages

Bamidele Rotimi Badejo: The dynamics of Yoruba–English contact in Nigeria

Abubakar Umar Girei: Hausa loanwords in Adamawa Fulfulde – A question of prestige or sociolinguistic necessity

Sergio Baldi: Arabic loans in West African languages – A semantic shift


Under these links you will find publications by the contributors, further (socio)linguistic studies, as well as books on the Kanuri language, culture and history:

Accompanying material:


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