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Typologie et documentation des langues en Afrique de l'Ouest

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462 pages
Ce corpus consacré aux langues africaines s'est intéressé particulièrement : 1) aux enjeux de la langue en relation avec le développement de la société, la culture et la construction et le maintien de la paix; 2) aux complexités et typologies des langues africaines; 3) à la perspective historique sur les langues africaines (des contributions en français et en anglais).
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EtudesTypologie et documentation des langues africainesen Afrique de l’Ouest Série Linguistique
Language Typology and Language Documentation
in West Africa
eCe livre présente les Actes du 27 Congrès de la Société de Linguistique de l’Afrique de
l’Ouest (SLAO) qui s’est tenu du 14 au 20 août 2011 à Abidjan. Il rassemble les travaux
les plus pertinents qui ont porté sur les recherches en linguistique des deux dernières
décennies sur les langues de l’Afrique de l’Ouest. Les articles ont été soumis à un comité Firmin A & Benjamin O E jamin O E O E O E O E O E
de lecture anonyme puis revus par leurs auteurs. Les résultats de ces recherches restent
encore d’actualité.
Les aspects pris en compte sont les suivants : phonétique, phonologie, typologie,
morphologie, syntaxe, linguistique appliquée, terminologie et apprentissage des langues,
sociolinguistique et documentation des langues.
Le congrès s’est particulièrement intéressé à trois thèmes, toujours d’actualité dans les Typologie et d d docococococuuuuuummmmmmmeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnttttttttttaaaaaaaaaattttttiiiiiiiooooonnnnn
langues africaines, notamment à la recherche, à l’enseignement et à la théorie linguistique.
Ces thèmes sont : (1) les enjeux de la langue en relation avec le développement de la des langues en Affririqquuueeeee d d d d d d d d deeeeeeeeee l l l l l l l l’’’’’’’OOOOOOOuuuuuuesesesesesesestttsociété, la culture, ainsi que la construction et le maintien de la paix, (2) les complexités
et les défi s de la typologie des langues africaines et de la documentation, (3) la perspective
eLes actes du 27 Congrèèès ds ds de le le la Sa Sa Sa Socococococociiiiiééééttttté dé dé dé de Le Le Le Le Liiiiiinnnnnnggguuuiiiststststiiiiqqquuue e historique sur les langues africaines. Les trois thèmes ont été traités en plénière par des
ddde le le l’’’AAffffrrrriiiiiiqqqqqqquuuuuuue de de de de de de de de le le l’’OOuuueeest (st (st (st (SSSLLLAAOO)experts de renommée internationale. Quatre ateliers thématiques ont été approfondis : (a)
phonétique, phonologie et typologie, (b) morphologie et syntaxe, (c) linguistique appliquée,
terminologie et apprentissage des langues, (d) sociolinguistique et documentation de langues.
Language Typologgyyyy an an an an an andddddddd L L L L L L L Lananananananguguguguguguguguguguaaaaaaaggggggeee
Firmin AHOUA est professeur titulaire de linguistique générale à l’université Félix
Houphouët-Boigny de Cocody à Abidjan. Il est l’actuel Directeur de l’Institut de Documentatioionnn i i innnn W W W W W W Weeeeeeeesssssssttttt A A A A A AfrfrfrfrfrfricicicicicaaaaLinguistique Appliquée (ILA) et Président de la Société de linguistique de l’Afrique
de l’Ouest (SLAO) depuis 2013. Il a obtenu le doctorat en 1988 et l’habilitation
thallemande en 2001 à l’université de Bielefeld, où il a occupé en 2002-2003 la Chaire Proceedings of the 27 West African Ln Ln Liiinnnggguuuiiiistststiiiiccccs Cs Cs Cs Cs Cs Cs Cs Coooooooonnnnnngggggggrrrrreeeeessss (s (s (s (WWWAAAALLLLLSSSSS))))
de professeur de linguistique générale. Lauréat des bourses Fulbright (1994), Humboldt (1999)
et du prix ASCAD 2013, il dirige des projets de recherche sur les langues kwa et les langues
menacées de disparition.
Benjamin OHI ELUGBE est professeur titulaire émérite à l’université d’Ibadan. Il fut
respectivement président de l’Académie des Sciences, des Arts et de la Diaspora
Nigériane et président de la Société de Linguistique de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (SLAO)
jusqu’en 2013.
Etudes africaines
Série Linguistique
ISBN : 978-2-343-08595-1
39 €
Typologie et documentation des langues en Afrique de l’Ouest
Firmin A
& Benjamin O E
Language Typology and Language Documentation in West AfricaTYPOLOGIE ET DOCUMENTATION DES LANGUES
EN AFRIQUE DE L’OUEST
LANGUAGE TYPOLOGY AND LANGUAGE DOCUMENTATION
IN WEST AFRICA

Collection « Études africaines »
dirigée par Denis Pryen et son équipe
Forte de plus de mille titres publiés à ce jour, la collection « Études
africaines » fait peau neuve. Elle présentera toujours les essais
généraux qui ont fait son succès, mais se déclinera désormais
également par séries thématiques : droit, économie, politique,
sociologie, etc.
Dernières parutions

Alphonse MAKENGO NKUTU, Les partis politiques de la République
démocratique du Congo. Analyse faite à partir de différents textes légaux portant
organisation et fonctionnement des partis politiques (1990 à nos jours), 2017.
Hygin Ignace AMBOULOU, Code des investissements et des activités économiques.
Première édition, 2017.
Hygin Ignace Traité de fiscalité des entreprises. Première édition,
2017.
Hygin Ignace AMBOULOU, La problématique du conflit de normes et de
compétences dans la situation de coexistence des juridictions communautaires,
2017.
Hygin Ignace AMBOULOU, La construction du marché commun africain et la
problématique de l’harmonisation des traités régionaux, 2017.
Hygin Ignace Traité de droit des transports de marchandises par
route et des opérations de dédouanement. Première édition, 2017.
Arthur SABI DJABOUDI, Les médias d’État au Gabon. Permanence et mutations,
2017.
Gilbert DOHO, Le Code de l’indigénat ou le fondement des États autocratiques en
Afrique francophone, 2017.
Mpunga WA ILUNGA, Lexique des noms lubà (République démocratique du
Congo), 2017.
René NGATSAKO, Une société traditionnelle du Congo-Brazzaville. La dynamique
des Moye, 2016.
Claudine-Augée ANGOUÉ, Les fondements religieux du pouvoir néocolonial au
Gabon La construction de l’ethnie philosophique, 2016.
Lambert MOSSOA, Gestion, maîtrise et aménagement des ressources naturelles en
Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre, 2016.
Ghislain M. MABANGA, Le principe de la continuité de l’Etat : issue de secours à
la prohibition du troisième mandat, Analyse critique de l’arrêt de la Cour
constitutionnelle congolaise du 11 mai 2016, 2016.
Jean-Bertrand AMOUGOU, Réflexions sur la rationalité, Tome 1. Variations
culturelles d’un thème chez P.M Hebga, 2016. Firmin Ahoua & Benjamin Ohi Elugbe





Typologie et documentation des langues
en Afrique de l’Ouest

Language Typology and Language
Documentation in West Africa



Les actes du 27eme Congrès de la Société
de Linguistique de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (SLAO)

Proceedings of the 27th West African Linguistics
Congress (WALS)



























































© L’HARMATTAN, 2017
5-7, rue de l’École-Polytechnique ; 75005 Paris

http://www.editions-harmattan.fr/

ISBN : 978-2-343-08595-1
EAN : 9782343085951 Sommaire
Sommaire……………........…………………………………….................... 5
Remerciements………………………………………………........................ 8
Préface.…........................................…………………………………........... 9
13Rapport de synthèse des travaux.....................................................................
Comités scientifque et de rédaction............................................................... 20
PLENARY SESSIONS
H. Ekkehard Wolff, Leipzig University..................………………...…..…. 23
stAfrican Linguistics in the 21 Century: Challenges and Perspectives
Akin Akinbiyi Akinlabi, Rutgers University…………………………….... 39
High Vowel Alternations in Yoruba
Ben Elugbe, University of Ibadan...............………………………………... 61
Comparative Akedoid and West Benue-Congo
81Norbert Nikièma, Université de Ouagadougou........................……………
A quand l’entrée des langues africaines en classe en francophonie ?
Expériences, défs et perspectives au Burkina Faso, au Mali et au Niger
PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY
107Firmin Ahoua et Edouard Y. Kouadio, Université de Cocody...................
Caractéristiques acoustiques des consonnes fortis / lenis en potou
Ulrike Zoch, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main................................... 127
Tone and Tam in Nyam
139Jacques Sossoukpe, SIL Togo......................................................................
Effet voisant du ton bas fottant sur les obstruantes en akebou
Kalliorinne Virpi, Université de Turku..................................................…... 147
Aperçu sur le système phonologique du samue (wara)
MORPHOLOGY AND SYNTAX
Lynell Marchese Zogbo, Alliance biblique de Côte d’Ivoire....................... 159
Les vestiges de classes nominales dans les langues kru: accord et suffxes
5 Gbandi Adouna, Université de Kara............…………………………….... 181
Les mutations consonantiques et vocaliques dans le système dialectal du
ncam (langue bassar)
Assanvo Amoikon Dyhié, Université de Cocody.......................................... 193
Propriétés distributionnelle et fonctionnelle de l’item [kε] en agni.
Marie-Laure Bonson Kozi, Université de Bayreuth...................…………. 203
Esquisse comparative de l’anɔ, langue kwa de cote d’ivoire et de l’anufo,
une enclave kwa au nord togo
Sib Sié Justin, Université de Cocody............................................................. 213
Les spécifcateurs des noms en téén, langue gur de Côte d’Ivoire
Coff Sambiéni, Université d’Abomey-Calavi...........……………………... 223
Les consonnes fnales de base dans les langues Gur Oti-Volta-Orientales
Emuobonuvie M. Ajiboye, Delta State University..............………………. 235
Degree Construction of Gradable Predicates in Urhobo
Kossonou Kouabena Théodore, Université de Cocody.................................. 247
Les différentes manifestations du pluriel en afma, langue kwa de Côte
d‘Ivoire
Flavien Gbéto, Université d’Abomey-Calavi............……………………… 257
Le verbe kpé en fongbe: emplois, combinatoire et propriétés syntaxiques
Guy Kaul, Université de Bouaké.........................……………...…………... 267
Types of Adverbial Clauses in Adioukrou
Silué S. Jacques, Université de Cocody.......................………................… 277
The Article as a Linguistic Variable in “Ivorian French”
Zakari Tchagbalé et Kouakou A. Enoc Kra, Université de Cocody...…... 287
Les genres du koulango: étude préliminaire
Zakari Tchagbalé, Université de Cocody et Université de Kara.................... 297
Le singulier est mort, vive le marqueur de genre !
Yéo Kanabein Oumar, Université de Cocody.......................................…... 309
Contribution au débat sur la longueur vocalique dans les langues senoufo
SOCIOLINGUISTICS AND LANGUAGE DOCUMENTATION
323Beatrice O. Bruku, University of Ghana, Legon..........................................
LAFA: The Metamorphosis of the Spoken English in Ghana
Behi Dagbisso, Université de Cocody........................................…………… 333
Le phénomène de « titrologues » ou lecteurs de titres des journaux
à Abidjan
6Dare Owolabi, University of Education, Ikere Ekiti..............……………... 341
Language Preference and Language Maintenance among
Yoruba-English School-going Bilinguals in Southwest Nigeria: Implications for
the Codifcation of the Mother Tongue
EmemObong Udoh, University of Uyo..............………………………….. 353
Linguistic Data Digitalisation in Nigeria: Challenges and Considerations
Ezekiel T. Bolaji & Simeon S. Fowowe, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of
Education.......................................................................................................... 361
Nigerian Indigenous Languages on the Verge of Extinction: Myth or
Reality?
Judith A. Mgbemena, National Institute Nigerian Languages……....…… 367
Campus Lingo: A Sociolinguistic Study of Popular Lexical Items Used in
Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria
APPLIED LINGUISTICS, LANGUAGE LEARNING
AND TERMINOLOGY
Ansa Stella A. and Okon Bassey A. University of Calabar..............……... 379
Investigation of Place and Personal Names as Linguistic Evidence of
a Common History of Selected Communities in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria
Cookey Ahiazunwa Scholastica, University of Nigeria…………………... 389
Les problèmes de la ré-expression des africanismes dans la traduction des
textes littéraires africains
Moussa Mamadou Diallo, Université de Cocody......................................... 399
Pluralité de(s) didactique(s) de français langue étrangère dans des
environnements multilingues d’apprenants du français langue étrangère (fe) :
cas du cuef
Faleke Victoria.O. And shehu S. Ibrahim, University of Ibadan............... 411
Nigerianess in the Language of some Proucts Promotions of Global
System for Mobile (gsm) Communication Operators in Nigeria.
Victoria. O. Faleke, University of Ibadan..............………………………... 421
Glosbalization in the Language of West African Christian Music: A Case
Study of Yoruba and Twi Languages
Ijioma Pat. Ngozi, University of Nigeria..............……………………….... 427
Les défs de la traduction des proverbes igbo en français
M.O. Ayeomoni, OAU, Ile-Ife..............……………………………………. 437
Migration and Culture: Implications on Nigerian Langauges
Okeogu Chidinma, University of Nigeria...............……………………….. 449
Body-Parts Terminology in Igbo.
7 Remerciements
L’organisation du Congrès de la Société de Linguistique de l’Afrique de
l’Ouest (SLAO) à Abidjan a été possible grâce à la contribution de plusieurs
autorités étatiques, gouvernementales et universitaires de la République de
Côte d’Ivoire.
Nous voudrions exprimer notre gratitude au Dr Cissé Bacongo, Ministre de
l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifque, et à son Directeur
de Cabinet, Professeur Sidibé Valy, pour leur soutien.
Nous avons une dette particulière à l’égard de M. Beugré Mambé,
Gouverneur du District Autonome d’Abidjan. Qu‘il trouve ici le témoignage de notre
infnie reconnaissance.
Lors de l‘édition de ce livre, nous avons bénéfcié du soutien et des conseils
avisés de Mme Ouattara Sidibé Nantenin, Directrice des enseignements et de la
formation professionnelle au District Autonome d‘Abidjan et de son
Sous-Directeur de la planifcation et de la Carte Scolaire, M. Gnamien Kouadio Cyrille.
Nous adressons également nos chaleureux remerciements au Professeur
Bakayoko Ly Ramata, Présidente de l’Université de Cocody, ainsi qu‘au
Professeur Kouadio N‘Guessan Jérémie, Doyen de l’UFR Langues, Littératures
et Civilisations, pour leur aide.
Nous sommes reconnaissants à Monsieur le Maire intérimaire de la Commune
de Cocody, Monsieur Dogo Jacques et au Docteur Ano B. Bernard, enseignant
à l’ENS d’Abidjan pour leur appui ainsi qu‘à la Commission préparatoire
régulièrement réunie à l’ENS pour défnir le profl du Congrès et examiner cer -
tains articles de jeunes chercheurs, à titre bénévole.
Merci à l’ensemble des enseignants-chercheurs et chercheurs du
Département des Sciences du Langage et de l’Institut de Linguistique Appliquée de
l’Université de Cocody pour leur franche collaboration.
Enfn, nous remercions vivement M. Diarrassouba Issouf pour son implication
dans l’organisation et pour le formatage des présents Actes.
8Préface
French version
eLes participants au 27 Congrès de la Société de linguistique de l’Afrique de
l’Ouest (SLAO) tiennent à exprimer leur profonde gratitude au gouvernement
et au peuple de cette grande nation de Côte d’Ivoire. Ils sont particulièrement
reconnaissants envers son Excellence, le Président de la République de Côte
d’Ivoire, au Ministre de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche
Scientifque, au de la Culture, au Gouverneur du District d’Abidjan, au
Maire de la commune de Cocody ainsi qu’à l’Université de Cocody. En outre,
ils tiennent à exprimer leurs sincères remerciements au Comité d’Organisation
de la Conférence piloté par le Professeur Kouadio, Doyen de l’Unité de
Formation et de Recherche en Langues, Littérature et Civilisations (UFR LLC)
de l’Université de Cocody, le Professeur Firmin Ahoua, Directeur de l’Institut
de Linguistique Appliquée, par ailleurs Secrétaire-Trésorier de la SLAO et le
Docteur Ano B. Bernard. Vu le contexte dans lequel le Congrès s’est déroulé,
force est de reconnaître que l’accueil et l’organisation de ce Congrès sont une
expression palpable de la ferme volonté de ce pays de réaliser tous les
objectifs qu’il s’est fxés quels que soient les défs et obstacles de toute nature qui
peuvent surgir sur son chemin. La tenue du Congrès dans cette magnifque
ville d’Abidjan est, à n’en pas douter, un message fort à la face du monde que
tout est devenu de nouveau normal et paisible en Côte d’Ivoire.
Le Président et le Conseil de la SLAO sont heureux de constater que les
participants à ce Congrès sont venus de tous les horizons comme par le passé.
Nous tenons à remercier nos membres pour avoir pris part à ces assises. Ce
faisant, ils ont exprimé leur soutien au peuple de la Côte d’Ivoire à un moment
crucial que beaucoup de gens pouvaient considérer comme diffcile, voire
précaire. En général, nous jugeons le succès de nos congrès non pas seulement
par le nombre important des participants, mais aussi par la qualité des
communications présentées. Nous sommes heureux de constater que le congrès
de cette année a réussi à satisfaire à nos attentes. Il restera dans nos annales
comme un des congrès les mieux organisés, car les autorités politiques lui ont
prêté main forte à tous les niveaux. A cet égard, la Société exprime ses vifs
remerciements à son Excellence Monsieur le Président de la République et au
Gouvernement de Côte d’Ivoire pour la décision d’élever, à l’occasion de ce
Congrès, des membres du Conseil dans l’Ordre du Mérite et l’Ordre National
de Côte d’Ivoire.
Le congrès s’est particulièrement intéressé à trois thèmes, toujours d’actualité
dans les langues africaines, notamment à la recherche, à l’enseignement et à
la théorie linguistique.

9 Ces thèmes sont :(1) les enjeux de la langue en relation avec le développement
de la société, la culture, ainsi que la construction et le maintien de la paix,
(2) Les complexités et les défs de la typologie des langues africaines et de la
documentation, (3) la perspective historique sur les langues africaines. Ces
trois thèmes ont été traités en plénière par des experts de renommée
internationale de l’Allemagne, de la Côte d’Ivoire, du Nigéria et de la Suisse. Ces
thèmes ont été approfondis dans quatre ateliers thématiques :(a) phonétique,
phonologie typologie (b) morphologie et syntaxe, (c) linguistique appliquée,
terminologie et apprentissage des langues, (d) sociolinguistique et
documentation de langues. Un comité ad hoc a été constitué pour poursuive le thème de
l’implication de la SLAO et de l’Université de Cocody dans la recherche sur
les langues et la paix à un niveau international.
Le Président et le Conseil de la SLAO restent convaincus que ce congrès a
réussi, conformément aux objectifs louables que la Société s’est fxés depuis
sa création il y a environ un demi-siècle, à faire progresser les échanges sur les
plans académique et intellectuel dans la sous-région de l’Afrique de l’Ouest
au-delà du clivage entre pays francophones et pays anglophones. En outre, les
recherches historiques sur les langues africaines ont mis en lumière le fait que
toutes les langues de la Côte d’Ivoire par exemple, aussi bien que celles de
nombreuses parties de la sous-région de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, appartiennent
à une seule et même grande famille. Ce Congrès en outre renforce la position
de la Côte d’Ivoire sur la carte mondiale de l’excellence académique et de la
recherche compétitive. A l’adresse de la communauté internationale, les
participants à ce Congrès témoignent du retour de la Côte d’Ivoire à un climat de
paix, gage d’un avenir prospère.
Pour terminer, nous tenons à réitérer notre profonde gratitude pour l’accueil
combien chaleureux réservé au Conseil et aux membres de la Société, et nous
prions les autorités ici présentes de bien vouloir transmettre à son excellence
Monsieur le Président de la République, l’expression de notre profonde
gratitude à son endroit, et à celui du peuple de la Côte d’Ivoire.
Vive la SLAO, vive la Côte d’Ivoire.
(Version anglaise)
The West African Linguistic Society expresses its gratitude to the government
and people of the great nation of Côte d’Ivoire. We are particularly grateful to
His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Dr. Alassane
Ouattara, his Ministers of Higher Education and Research, and of Culture, the
Governor of Abidjan and the Mayor of the city of Cocody, as well as to the
University of Cocody. In addition, we must say our profound thanks to the
Local Organizing Committee headed by Professor Firmin Ahoua, the Dean
Kouadio and Dr. Ano Boa.
10The conference, when placed in context, is a huge statement about the will
of this country to achieve goals in the face of daunting challenges. In hosting
WALC at this point in time this country has announced to the world that all is
once more normal and peaceful.
The President and the Council of WALS/SLAO are very happy to note that
the multinational character of attendance observable in past congresses was
maintained. We thank our members for coming and so lending their support
to Côte d’Ivoire at a time that most people would consider diffcult. Normally
we judge the success of our congresses not just by the sheer number of
participants, but also by the quality of presentations. We are happy that in this year’s
Congress we have not been let down. The standards have remained high.
The Congress addressed three issues of high relevance in relation to research
on and the teaching of African languages and linguistics. These were (1)
language in relation to the development of society, culture and with regard to
building and maintaining peace, (2) the complexities and challenges of
African language typology and documentation, and (3) the historical perspective
on African languages. These three themes were treated in plenary sessions by
scholars of high international standing from Germany, USA, Côte d’Ivoire,
Nigeria, and Switzerland, and were deepened in topical workshops on (a)
phonetics, phonology, and typology, (b) morphology and syntax, (c) applied
linguistics includingterminology and language learning, and (d) sociolinguistics
and language documentation. A special committee was set up to pursue the
issue of the involvement of WALS/SLAO and the University of Cocody in
research on language and peace on an international scale.
The President and Council of WALS/SLAO rest assured that this Congress
has enhanced academic and general intellectual exchange in the West African
sub-region, not the least by crossing the language barriers that still exist
between the francophone and the anglophone countries, as has been a primary
goal of WALS/SLAO since its beginnings nearly 50 years ago. On the other
hand, historical research into African languages has brought to light the fact
that, for instance, all languages in Côte d’Ivoire, as much as in most parts of
the West African sub-region, belong to one single language family. The
Congress has, further, strengthened the position of Côte d’Ivoire on the global map
of academic excellence and competitive research. In the view of the
international community, the Congress has testifed to the return of Côte d’Ivoire into
a peaceful present with prosperous prospects for the future.
We end this communique by humbly requesting Mr. President to accept the
assurances of the Society’s highest esteem.
Professor Benjamin Ohi Elugbe,
President of WALS/SLAO
11 RAPPORT DE SYNTHESE DES TRAVAUX DU 27ème CONGRES
DE LA SOCIETE DE LINGUISTIQUE
DE L’AFRIQUE DE L’OUEST
du 14 au 20 Août 2011, ENSEA, Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire)
L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Statistique et d’Economie Appliquée
(ENeSEA) a servi de cadre aux travaux du 27 Congrès de la Société Linguistique
de l’Afrique de l’Ouest qui se sont déroulés du 15 au 20 Août 2011 sur le
thème « Typologie et documentation des langues » et organisés par l’Institut de
Linguistique Appliquée de l’Université de Cocody- Abidjan.
Placé sous le haut patronage du Président de la République, Son Excellence
Monsieur Alassane Ouattara, et sous la présidence effective du Ministre de
l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifque, Monsieur Cissé
emeIbrahima, l’objectif de ce 27 congrès était de faire le bilan de la recherche
sur la description et l’évolution des langues dans la sous-région ouest
africaine.
La cérémonie d’ouverture a enregistré la participation de plus de 200 invités,
dont d’éminentes personnalités du monde universitaire venues notamment du
Nigéria, du Ghana, du Burkina Faso, du Congo- Brazzaville, du Togo, du
Bénin, du Cameroun, du Sénégal, de l’Allemagne, de la Russie, de la Suisse, des
Pays- Bas, de la France et de la Côte d’Ivoire.
Ouvrant la série des allocutions, M. Dogo Jacques, Maire intérimaire de
Cocody, a souhaité la bienvenue à tous les experts venus participer à cette
importante rencontre scientifque. Il a remercié le directoire de la SLAO pour avoir
choisi la Côte d’Ivoire et principalement sa commune pour abriter les travaux
emedu 27 congrès de cette organisation. Le Maire a aussi exprimé sa
reconnaissance au Président de la République pour l’avoir porté à la tête de la commune
de Cocody et confrmé son engagement à soutenir l’Enseignement Supérieur
et la Recherche Scientifque.
Le Professeur Ben Elugbe, président de la SLAO a, à son tour, remercié les
autorités ivoiriennes pour la qualité de l’accueil et pour leur implication
personnelle dans la préparation et la tenue de ce congrès. Ce congrès, a-t-il
ajouté, est organisé en Côte d’Ivoire après le désistement du Burkina Faso, du
Togo et du Cameroun depuis 2008. Il a donc réitéré ses remerciements aux
autorités ivoiriennes qui ont accepté spontanément d’accueillir le congrès.
Le professeur Elugbe a aussi saisi cette occasion pour rendre hommage à la
communauté ouest africaine pour son soutien à la Côte d’Ivoire, après la
récente crise post-électorale qui a secoué le pays.
Il a encouragé les efforts de réconciliation nationale en cours et souhaité que
la Côte d’Ivoire retrouve sa place sur la scène internationale. Concernant
l’objet du congrès, le conférencier a insisté que la langue est un instrument
de paix, de concorde sociale, de rapprochement et d’union entre les hommes.
13 Elle est un moyen de communication et d’échange au service du
développement et du progrès social. Le Professeur Elugbe a estimé que l’importance de
ce congrès va bien au- delà d’une discipline et prend en compte la
problématique de la vie en société.
Le Doyen de l’UFR Langues, Littératures et Civilisations et Président du
Comité d’Organisation du Congrès a, à son tour, salué la présence de tous les
participants à cette cérémonie et adressé ses remerciements aux sommités du
monde scientifque venues de l’étranger pour enrichir la réfexion sur la
thématique du congrès. Il a saisi cette occasion pour exprimer toute sa gratitude
aux autorités ivoiriennes pour l’aide décisive qu’elles ont apportée au comité
dans les ultimes moments de l’organisation de ces assises.
Expliquant les enjeux de ce congrès, le Doyen fera remarquer que
pratiquement toutes les langues africaines, grandes ou petites, sont en danger
d’extinction, à plus ou moins brève échéance, parce que bon nombre d’entre
elles n’ont pu résister au violent choc culturel et physique qu’a constitué la
rencontre de l’occident avec l’Afrique. Pour lui, il s’agit désormais de faire
en sorte que toutes les langues, celles qui survivent (et elles sont encore
relativement nombreuses) livrent leurs secrets, c’est-à-dire leur phonologie, leur
fonctionnement syntaxique et leur lexique. Il a, pour terminer, relever
qu’audelà de son aspect scientifque, ce congrès est une opportunité pour montrer
au peuple ivoirien les résultats plus qu’encourageants des recherches
entreprises sur les langues ivoiriennes, de même que les expériences en matière
d’alphabétisation et de scolarisation en langues ivoiriennes.
M. Alexis Ibo, le Directeur de cabinet, représentant le Ministre de
l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifque a affrmé que c’est
emeun honneur pour la Côte d’Ivoire d’accueillir les travaux du 27 congrès
de la Société Linguistique de l’Afrique de l’Ouest. Il a salué la présence de
ces éminents chercheurs à qui il a souhaité la bienvenue en terre ivoirienne.
Parlant de la thématique du congrès, il a souligné que la linguistique, en tant
que science du langage et de la communication, a certainement un rôle à jouer
dans le développement de notre continent et principalement de notre sous-
région régulièrement secouée par des foyers de tension qui mettent à mal la
cohésion entre les populations.
Pour lui, la langue en tant que vecteur de la culture doit diffuser nos valeurs,
intégrer nos diversités, vulgariser notre identité et promouvoir le
développement. C’est d’ailleurs, a-t-il ajouté, conscient de cet état de fait que l’Etat de
Côte d’Ivoire a créé l’Institut de Linguistique Appliquée (ILA) pour assurer la
description systématique des langues ivoiriennes et préparer leur introduction
dans l’enseignement.
M. Alexis Ibo a affrmé que le Gouvernement du Président Alassane
Ouattara qui amorce les chantiers de la Côte d’Ivoire nouvelle accorde une place
14de choix à la donne linguistique dans sa politique de réconciliation nationale
et de recherche scientifque. Il a donc assuré les congressistes du soutien du
emeGouvernement avant de déclarer ouverts les travaux du 27 congrès de la
Société Linguistique de l’Afrique de l’Ouest.
Après la cérémonie d’ouverture, les travaux se sont poursuivis en plénière et
emeen ateliers. Ce rapport de synthèse donnera les résultats des travaux du 27
congrès en présentant d’une part le déroulement des travaux (I) et d’autre part
les recommandations proposées (II).
I. LE DEROULEMENT DES TRAVAUX
Au total, 92 communications ont été présentées dont 6 en plénière et 86 en
atelier. En ce qui concerne les travaux en plénière, la conférence
inaugurale qui a été présentée par le Professeur Ekkehard Wolff, Professeur émérite
de l’Université de Leipzig en Allemagne, avait pour thème : perspectives,
emeenjeux et défs de la linguistique africaine au 21 siècle.
Le conférencier a d’abord présenté les défs de la linguistique africaine, à
l’heure actuelle, qui sont, selon lui, l’étude du rôle de la langue dans le
rétablissement et le renforcement de la paix et la nécessité de développer une
ou des langues nationales, en vue de préserver les langues africaines. Pour
cela, il a situé son argumentaire dans une perspective diachronique à savoir le
passé, le présent et l’avenir, le tout sur la base de la corrélation entre langue,
éducation et paix.
La pertinence de cette démarche est qu’elle s’inscrit dans une approche
pluridisciplinaire et marque une rupture avec les mécanismes classiques d’étude
des langues, pour épouser une politique des langues en harmonie avec la
gestion des confits et l’édifcation de la paix dans une perspective de multilin -
guisme.
Le conférencier a aussi fait observer que l’émergence de langues hybrides
généralement chez les jeunes africains, traduit leur refus de l’orthodoxie des
langues coloniales qui souvent, les rejettent du système scolaire classique.
Cela traduit, aux dires du Professeur Wolf, la volonté, de plus en plus affchée
de ces jeunes, d’affrmer leur identité et leur refus de l’aliénation linguistique
et culturelle. Pour fnir, il souligne qu’il faut absolument intégrer les valeurs
sociolinguistiques que portent les langues africaines dans la résolution des
confits sur le continent.
La deuxième conférence en plénière a été présentée par le Professeur Akinbiyi
Akinlabi, de l’Université de Rutgers. Cette conférence a porté sur les voyelles
hautes en yorouba et en olo igbo, deux langues parlées au Nigéria.
Le Professeur Akinbiyi observe qu’il y a une alternance entre les voyelles
hautes et les consonnes syllabiques en yorouba et en olo- igbo.
Il pense que ce phénomène fait partie des cas de réduction vocalique dans
15 les contextes où les voyelles sont dites faibles. Il propose une hiérarchie de
contraintes qui prend en compte la hiérarchie de sonorité.
Le Professeur Kouadio de l’Université de Cocody a animé la troisième
conférence en plénière. Son travail a porté sur le système aspecto-modal et la
cohérence syntaxique et sémantique dans les constructions sérielles en
akyé, une langue kwa de Côte d’Ivoire.
Dans sa communication, le Professeur Kouadio a tenté de montrer le
fonctionnement syntaxique des constructions sérielles en akyé en rapport avec les
prédicatifs verbaux que sont les morphèmes aspectuels.
Au bout de son analyse, le Professeur Kouadio note que deux critères lui
paraissent incontestables pour défnir les constructions sérielles dans cette
langue. Il s’agit de la présence d’un sujet unique devant le premier verbe et
de la possibilité qu’a chaque verbe de régir un objet. Il estime cependant que
l’examen de la distribution des morphèmes aspecto-modaux sur les verbes
dans une construction sérielle montre qu’il n’y a pas toujours une cohérence
tant syntaxique que sémantique entre ces verbes.
En conclusion, le professeur Kouadio pense que les constructions sérielles en
akyé relèveraient plutôt de procédés discursifs que d’un processus de
grammaticalisation.
Le professeur Ben Elugbe de l’Université d’Ibadan a présenté la quatrième
communication en plénière. Son travail a porté sur les phénomènes observés
dans la classifcation des langues de l’Ouest du Benue Congo. Revenant sur la
classifcation réalisée par Greenberg en 1963, l’orateur souligne que le groupe
kwa comprend huit sous-groupes.
Ce groupe, a-t-il dit, est une branche du Niger-Congo qui s’étend de la Côte
d’Ivoire jusqu’à la vallée de Cross River au Sud-Est du Nigéria.
L’orateur note cependant que les chercheurs comme William Welmers, Roger
Wescott et Robert Armstrong avaient émis l‘hypothèse que le groupe kwa
forme véritablement un groupe distinct au sein de la famille Niger Congo.
De l’avis du professeur Elugbe, l’absence de classes nominales dans ce
groupe alorsque celles-ci sont présentes dans les langues Bantou et Bantoid du
Benue Congo, serait le facteur majeur qui distingue le Kwa du Benue Gongo.
Le professeur Thomas Bearth de l’Université de Zurich a animé la cinquième
communication en plénière sur le thème « Langues, démocratie et
minorités ». Selon lui, la politique linguistique inclusive est le fondement d’une
véritable démocratie. S’inspirant du concept de la durabilité communicationnelle
développé dans le projet LAGSUS, le conférencier met en relief l’importance
de la langue dans l’exercice des droits démocratiques.
La sixième et dernière conférence en plénière a été présentée par le professeur
N’Guessan Sylvain et le docteur Bogny de l’Université de Cocody. Les deux
orateurs ont tenté de montrer l’intérêt des langues nationales en Côte d’Ivoire
16dans la restauration prothétique des édentements.
Dans leur argumentaire, ils ont relevé que la prothèse odontologique qui, par
essence, assure le remplacement des organes dentaires absents, doit
impérativement et de façon intégrale assurer la restauration des différentes fonctions
phonatoires auxquelles participent ces organes.
Ils ont observé cependant que les méthodes classiquement utilisées émanant
essentiellement de mots peu ou pas connus dans l‘environnement du patient,
ne permettent pas toujours d’atteindre les objectifs prothétiques visés. Les
deux orateurs proposent donc à partir de cinq langues ivoiriennes (baoulé,
bété, dioula, gouro, koulango) des phénomènes modelants, qu’ils estiment
plus effcaces.
A la suite des plénières, les participants se sont retrouvés en ateliers pour
approfondir la réfexion sur la thématique du Congrès.
En somme, il y a eu 86 communications en ateliers portant notamment sur la
description et la classifcation des langues africaines, l’avenir de ces langues
et les mécanismes pour en faire des instruments de développement et de
cohésion sociale. Les résultats des travaux ont été rendus sous forme de
recommandations comme suit.

II. Les recommandations
A l’issue des échanges sur la typologie et la documentation des langues
africaines, le Congrès a fait les recommandations suivantes :
A- Au titre de la dynamisation des recherches sur la description et la
classifcation des langues africaines
1- Approfondir les recherches sur la description systématique et la
classifcation des langues africaines.
2- Exploiter le potentiel scientifque des langues africaines en produisant
des documents de référence sur leur phonologie, leur fonctionnement
syntaxique et leur lexique.
3- Mettre en place des réseaux de recherche inter-universitaires au
niveau sous-régional et faire régulièrement le point sur les avancées des
recherches sur les langues africaines.
4- Développer les projets de création de dictionnaire dans les langues
africaines.
5- Renforcer les structures existantes en infrastructures et
équipements spécialisés d’une part et d’autre part créer de
nouveaux établissements à vocation linguistique et culturelle.

17 6- Réexaminer les curricula de formation pour tenir compte des
caractéristiques spécifques de la société africaine en donnant la priorité aux
enseignements et actions visant à promouvoir les spécifcités
sociolinguistiques africaines à travers l’expression de la diversité de ses
composantes.
7- Augmenter l’appui à la recherche scientifque.
8- Réaliser la transcription, l’enseignement et le développement de
l’utilisation des langues nationales de manière à en faire des langues
de diffusion et de développement des sciences et techniques.
9- Vulgariser les résultats des recherches sur les langues africaines.
B- Au titre de l’avenir des langues africaines
1- Mener des activités d’alphabétisation dans les langues qui sont
menacées de disparition.
2- Développer une ou des langues nationales en vue de préserver les
langues africaines.
3- Développer la recherche sur les langues émergentes dans les sociétés
africaines telles que le nouchi, le franlof, etc.
4- Adopter une politique linguistique claire en faveur de l’introduction
des langues africaines dans l’enseignement.
5- Défnir un cadre juridique approprié et une planifcation linguistique
rigoureuse.
6- Eviter la méfance à l’égard de l’usage éducatif des langues natio -
nales.
7- Proposer aux apprenants des modules spécialisés qui tiennent compte
des réalités socio culturelles africaines.
8- Avoir une meilleure perception des langues africaines à travers une
politique hardie qui prendrait en compte les acquis de la recherche
scientifque.
C- Au titre des mécanismes à mettre en œuvre pour faire des langues
africaines des instruments de développement et de cohésion sociale
1- Vulgariser et promouvoir le rôle de la langue dans le rétablissement
et le renforcement de la paix.
2- Entreprendre une série d’actions de sensibilisation, d’animation et
promouvoir un patrimoine culturel et linguistique africain de sorte à
favoriser l’émergence d’une conscience nationale où se reconnaîtrait
l’ensemble des populations.
3- Créer les conditions de nouvelles formes de vie
collective en harmonie avec les valeurs et les réalités de
la société africaine en pleine mutation aujourd’hui.
184- Intégrer les valeurs socio-linguistiques que portent les langues dans
les théories de résolution des confits.
5- Défnir la planifcation de la langue comme étant étroitement liée aux
programmes socio-économiques.
6- Mettre la langue au centre des politiques de développement.
Fait à Abidjan, le 19 Août 2011
Pour le comité d’organisation
Dr Aboa Alain Laurent
19 Comité scientifque
- Dr. Aboa Abia Alain Laurent
- Dr. Lynell Marchese Zogbo
- Dr. Tera Kalilou
- Dr. Zakari Tchagbalé
- Prof. Aboh Enoch
- Prof. Akin Akinbiyi Akinlabi
- Prof. Ben Elugbe
- Prof. Bruce Connell
- Prof. Camille Roger Abolou
- Prof. Caroline Fery
- Prof. Dafydd Gibbon
- Prof. Douglas Pulleyblank
- Prof. Eno-Abasi Urua
- Prof. Firmin Ahoua
- Prof. Flavien Gbéto
- Prof. Francis Egbokhare
- Prof. Henri Gadou
- Prof. Jacques Sassongo Silué
- Prof. Jean- Marie Kouakou
- Prof. Jérémie N. Kouadio
- Prof. Léa Ngoran-Poamé
- Prof. Toussaint Tchitchi
Comité de rédaction
- M. Diarrassouba Issouf
20PLENARY SESSIONS
21 STAFRICAN LINGUISTICS IN THE 21 CENTURY:
CHALLENGES AND PERSPECTIVES
H. Ekkehard Wolff
Leipzig University, GERMANY
0. INTRODUCTION
thThis paper was presented as “Inaugural Keynote” to the 27 West African
1Languages Congress (WALC). The author wishes, frst of all, to acknowledge
the privilege and honour of having been invited in 2009 by the President of
WALS/SLAO, Professor Ben Elugbe, during his visit to Leipzig. The invitation
coincided with my impending retirement from the Chair of African
Linguistics at Leipzig University. It was a pleasure to accept the invitation in the
light of my 45 years of membership in the Society, the many years that I was
also privileged to serve as Member of Council, and the fact that in 1988 I was
thhonoured by a mandate to organize and host the 18 WALC in Niamey, Niger.
thI wish further to extend my utmost gratitude to the able organizers of the 27
WALC for the exquisite reception and hospitality, and to the Government of
Côte d’Ivoire who, on this occasion, bestowed on the author the membership
of the Ordre National de Côte d’Ivoire.
The paper is organized in four parts. It will begin by looking at the past in
terms of how African linguistics began and took shape. Here we will look
at the invention of Afrikanistik in colonial Germany, the coming of age of
sociolinguistics in the African context, and what I consider the most
signifcant paradigmatic changes from past to present. I will then describe the
present, i.e. where African linguistics stands today, and I will do so in terms of
the profle of the World Congress on African Linguistics (WOCAL) which was
established in 1990 and on whose Standing Committee I was privileged to
serve for several years, now serving the scientifc community as an “Elder of
WOCAL”. As regards the future, I will look at the particular challenges and
perspectives for Applied African Sociolinguistics that I foresee should and will
preoccupy scholars in African linguistics in the years to come. The focus will
be on the contributions which African linguistics has to offer with regard to
sociocultural modernisation of African societies and, not the least, towards
their economic development. Finally, the paper will put the spotlight on three
core issues of Applied African Sociolinguistics: (a) language and the UN
Millennium Development Goals, (b) the role of the language factor in education, and (c)
peace building and confict management by language policy. The paper will
stwind up with an outlook on the future agenda of African linguistics in the 21
century.
1 The paper rests, partly at least, on an Introductory Keynote for the Sociolinguistics Session
at the 6th World Congress of African Linguistics (WOCAL) held at the University of Cologne,
Germany, in August 2009, cf. Wolff (in press).
23 1. THE PAST
African linguistics was established as a separate academic subject in the
heyday of European colonialism in German speaking academia some 125
years ago. It was then and still is known under the German designation
Afrika2nistik. Imperial Germany (1871 – 1918) was a colonial power with so-called
protectorates in Asia (New Guinea, Samoa, China) and Africa. The colonial
territories in Africa were known under the following German designations
and were made up of territories which today belong to more than one of the
modern states of Africa:
Deutsch-Ostafrika (German East-Africa), comprising parts of former
“Tanganyika” and present-day Rwanda and Burundi;
Deutsch-Südwestafrika (German South-Western Africa) which was largely
identical to modern Namibia;
Deutsch-Westafrika (German West-Africa), made up of two parts:
(1) Togoland or Togo, comprising of present-day Togo and adjacent parts
of Ghana;
(2) Kamerun which was considerable larger than present-day Cameroon
by encompassing parts of present-day Nigeria, Chad, C.A.R., Gabon, and
Congo.
This colonialist historical background fostered the establishment of
Afrikanistik as an autonomous academic discipline in academic institutions in
Germa3ny; more precisely in Berlin (1885), Leipzig (1895), and Hamburg (1909).
This was the beginning of regular and continuous academic research on, and
teaching of, two interrelated but rather wide felds of academic and politi -
cal interest at the time, namely (1) African languages as such, including also
[oral] literatures, religions, cultures, and histories of the people who spoke
these languages, and (2) the role and functions of language in culture and
society in Africa. Clearly and retrospectively, early German Afrikanistik
anticipated later approaches of sociolinguistics and ethnolinguistics. From its
inception, Afrikanistik was more than just studying African languages per se;
language was perceived to be intimately linked to its speakers, their cultures,
and their histories. This should always be borne in mind when one translates
German Afrikanistik into English “African linguistics”.
2 Alternatively, it was also called Afrikalinguistik or Afrikanische Sprachwissenschaft
which both translate as “African linguistics” (Fr. linguistique africaine). In the end, it was
the term Afrikanistik (Fr. africanisme) which won out, possibly due to its similarity to
designations for well-established comparable academic disciplines such as
Orientalistik (“Oriental Studies”, Fr. orientalisme). Note that Afrikanistik is not to be confounded
with, or translated as, “African Studies” in English which has the equivalent of
Afrikawissenschaften in German. Afrikanistik best translates into English as “African linguistics”.
3 A fourth center of early German-speaking Afrikanistik was the University of Vienna,
Austria, where Egyptologist began to widen their scope of interest to also include
spoken “modern” languages of Africa to complement their preoccupation with the
written documents from the “ancient” stages of history of Egypt and the later Sudan.
24Between its inception and today, African linguistics has been subjected to
some major paradigmatic shifts regarding its theoretical foundations and
research priorities. Three major paradigmatic shifts will be identifed here and
shall be discussed in all brevity.
st1 Paradigm: “language as organism”
Between the 1880s and World War I (1914-1918), academic interest in
language was predominantly historical and comparative. Research was conducted
under the impact of both (1) Evolutionary Theory (“Darwinism”) in terms
of languages and human populations (to avoid the term “race”, even though
race was a relevant category at the time also in linguistics), and (2)
Neogrammarian comparative philology in terms of genealogical classifcation of
African languages, mostly by following the “family tree model”, which,
however, became immediately challenged by the “wave model”. For Africa, we
begin to see early professional language classifcations by largely German and
Austrian scholars of which I would like to single out the following three, but
there were other important (also non-German) scholars as well.
Carl Meinhof (1857-1944) became most famous for his comparative work on
the Bantu language family (between 1895 and 1906), but failed dramatically
in his attempt (1912) to reconstruct a “Hamitic” language family in Africa.
Diedrich Westermann (1875-1956) soon realized that there was no
reconstructable language family as had been postulated earlier under the name “Sudanic
languages” (1911), so he wisely singled out the “Western Sudanic” languages,
established their intimate relationship with the Bantu languages (1927) and,
thereby, anticipated Joseph H. Greenberg’s fnal classifcation (between 1949
and 1963) of the Niger-Congo language family.
Johannes Lukas (1901-1980), Austrian by birth, pioneered in the classifcation
of the languages around Lake Chad which were left unaccounted for by both
Meinhof’s and Westermann’s classifcations, and established (between 1934
and 1952) the existence of today’s generally accepted Chadic and Saharan
language families.
nd 2 Paradigm: “language as system”
After World War I, we see the growing of predominantly descriptive and
theoretical research interests under the impact of (1) pre-World War II
linguistic structuralism in Europe, esp. regarding the works of authors such as de
Saussure and “Prague School” representatives like Trubetzkoy, Jakobson, and
others, and in the USA (e.g. Bloomfeld, and others), and (2) post-World War
II developments in theoretical linguistics which began speeding up mostly
in the USA, esp. Generative-Transformational Grammar [following Noam
Chomsky]; other promising theoretical and methodological approaches, like
Tagmemics [following Kenneth L. Pike] soon became overpowered by the
early and later Chomsky models of grammar.
25 In Europe and Germany, still the hub of African linguistics at the time, this
theoretical impact on African linguistics was not seen before the 1960s. But
when it fnally happens under the post-World War II impact of US-Ameri -
can dominance, we see the “linguisticization” of the originally combined
language+culture+history approach of German Afrikanistik. This leads to a
temporary marginalization of promising pre-sociolinguistic and
ethnolinguistic approaches that had so uniquely characterized early German Afrikanistik.
rd3 Paradigm: “language as resource”
From the 1990s onwards, there is a renewed and growing interest in applied
and developmental research outputs for socio-cultural modernization,
economic development, poverty alleviation, education for all, etc. under the impact
of (1) the academic foundations laid by international sociolinguistics which
was invented around 1960, and (2) anti-postcolonial ideological positions
from within Africa behind notions such as African Renaissance and NEPAD.
The salient question, however, remains still unanswered: Could this new
paradigm spark off a long overdue linguistic turn in mainstream development
discourse? To sum up the retrospective glance into the history of African
linguistics, we could place the developments into the following historical time
and place grid which summarizes our view on the study of African languages
from outside Africa in the last 125 years.
1.1. Pre-and early colonial period before 1884
Institutionalised curiosity by largely members of nobility in Germany and
Europe in general, and early Christian mission activities, provide the
ideological background for increased interest in “exotic” parts of the world and their
inhabitants, languages and cultures. We see the compilations of pre-academic
word collections, early grammars, and early catechisms and bible
translations. In South Africa, there are the beginnings of a similar interest in the local
language situation, so we see the emergence of a South African branch of
African linguistics in close cooperation with developing academic institutions in
Europe (UK, Germany). The rest of the world is not (yet) interested in African
languages and linguistics.
1.2. Peak periods of colonialism and christian mission activities, and the
emerging anti-colonialism (1885-1918, 1918-1960)
There are two sub-periods. (1) Pre-World War I (1885-1918), and (2)
postWorld War I (1918-1960). During the frst sub-period, Afrikanistik becomes
established in Berlin 1885 (frst professorial position:1905), Leipzig 1895
(frst professorial position:1900), Hamburg 1909 (frst “Chair” for African
linguistics, but in a non-university institution; 1919 transferred to the newly
founded university), and Vienna.
26It is only during the second sub-period that African linguistics fnds an acade -
mic home in other European countries as well, whether colonial power or not,
such as Belgium, France, Italy, UK, and Russia (USSR). Interestingly to note:
Germany loses all of her colonies following World War I, but nevertheless
remains a hub of Afrikanistik until the beginning of World War II. Following
Word War II (1939-1945), the ubiquitous struggle for independence in
Africa forces in particular the colonial powers to keep an eye on African affairs.
Slowly and sporadically, African linguistics becomes established in
institutions of tertiary education to meet the needs of colonial practitioners.
1.3. African decolonization, global bipolarity and the “cold war” (1960-1990)
With the formal end of colonialism for most parts of Africa and political
independence for many new states around the year 1960, yet aggravated by the
global rivalry between the two superpowers USA and USSR and their
hegemonial impacts on the newly independent African states, African affairs were
high on the political agenda. Focus was not on language issues; Africa’s
territorial multilingualism was seen as a threat to national unity of the new states.
“Minority languages” were expected to die out soon under the hegemonial
impact of the new offcial (mainly ex-colonial) languages which were considered
“neutral” in terms of ethnolinguistic rivalries. Further, so-called Black Studies
in the USA emerged as corollary of the Human Rights Movement of African
Americans. This boosted to no little extent the interest in African languages
in the USA and also met with increased research interests by theoretical
linguistics. African linguistics became a sub-domain of theoretical linguistics in
which the USA had begun to play the major role worldwide, and the former
Black Studies fostered the emergence of African Studies. So, in addition to
Western Europe and its branch in South Africa, Eastern Europe and North
America (USA, Canada) began to leave signifcant traces on the world-map of
African linguistics. Still, Latin America, Asia and Australia remained “white
spots” on that map.
1.4. Democratization and “globalization”, and the globalization of
African linguistics (1990-date)
Quite accidentally, worldwide democratization which followed the collapse
of the Soviet Union and its system of State Socialism coincided with the
initiative of creating a World Congress of African Linguistics (WOCAL) series
in 1990. African linguistics fnally became a worldwide represented academic
feld with research interests springing up also in South America, Asia, and
Australia. Further, freed from the strangulation by exclusive linkage with
theoretical linguistics of US-American provenance, there was now room again for
the study of language in all its relations to society, culture, and development.
27 2. THE PRESENT
Current research priorities in worldwide African linguistics are best
represented by the profle of the World Congress of African Linguistics series which
was established in 1990 and is holding triennial meetings in Africa, Europe,
and the Americas since 1994. WOCAL meetings regularly rotate between
Africa, Europe, and the USA. An exceptional “Special WOCAL” was held in
Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2008 under the theme “Exploring the African Language
Connection in the Americas”, in order to acknowledge and support growing
research interests in Latin America. The locations and years of the regular
WOCAL have so far been Kwaluseni, Swaziland (1994); Leipzig,
Germany (1997); Lomé, Togo (2000), Brunswick, N.J., USA (2003), Addis Ababa,
thEthiopia (2006), and Cologne, Germany (2009). The upcoming 7 regular
WOCAL is scheduled for 2012 in Buea, Cameroon.
Worldwide African linguistics well over 100 years after its inception follows
largely the conception of early German Afrikanistik albeit under a totally
different political and ideological superstructure. This means that, apart from
testing the applicability of theoretical models of grammar on African languages,
research priorities have become much broader and more inclusive again and
now focus on African languages as
- objects of research per se
- media of intra- and inter-ethnic communication
- vessels of indigenous African cultures
- symbols and manifestations of ethnolinguistic identity
- assets and resources for “national” politics
- instruments and symbols of socio-cultural change and economic progress,
i.e. of modernization/development
- instruments of upward social mobility for the “masses” via L1-based
multilingual education
This can be illustrated from looking at the structure of both the published
WOCAL proceedings and the program of WOCAL-6 whose proceedings are
still in press at the time of writing this paper. In the following table, topical
domains are identifed by Roman numbers IVII, the published proceedings
of WOCAL 14 are given with their Arabic numbers and years of publication
(including Special WOCAL [SpW]), WOCAL 6 is given with the year when
it was held in Cologne.
28The frst and permanent topic area is that of phonetics & phonology.I.
II. The second and permanent topic area is that of grammar & lexicon
(morphology, syntax, morphosyntax, semantics)
The third and permanent topic area is that of historical & comparati-III.
ve linguistics, enlarged by studies on language typology and language
contact. (In the Special WOCAL proceedings, these topics were treated
in the Plenary Papers section.)
IV. The fourth and permanent topic area is that of sociolinguistics &
ethnolinguistics, including language policy & planning, language &
cultural studies, language & development.
V. The topic area of computational linguistics & Human Language
Technology is in the process of establishing itself as regular beginning with
1 paper in the WOCAL-1 proceedings.
VI. Language documentation was made a topical area of its own for the
frst time in Cologne 2009.
Likewise, sign languages were given their own space with the WO-VII.
CAL framework for the frst time in cologne 2009.
Topic
1 (1997) 2 (2000) 3 (2003) 4 (2004) 5 (2008) 6 (2009)
area
I + + + + + +
II + + + + + +
III + + + + + +
IV + + + + + +
V + - - + - +
VI - - - - - +
VII - - - - - +
The topic areas I and II refect the strong and lasting impact of general and
theoretical linguistics, topic area III has not only survived from the very early
periods of Afrikanistik, but increasingly profts from strong theoretical and
methodological input under the impact of modern language typology. The
ensemble of topic areas I-III represent the core issues of African linguistics as far
as it is understood, as it is by many members of the scientifc community, as a
special/regional subfeld of “General” or “Theoretical Linguistics”.
29 Clearly, the most noticeable expansion of this core, if not revival from early
Afrikanistik days, is the one that I will henceforth refer to as Applied African
Sociolinguistics, under which I would group topic areas IV-VI. Some of the
central questions of Applied African Sociolinguistics are the following:
- What role does the language factor play for the overall modernization
of societies in Africa (democratization, mass participation, civil society,
etc.) and for
economic development; for instance, in terms of achieving the unIteD
natIOns’ Millennium Development Goals?
- How can the language factor fnally be introduced into the ongoing (a)
mainstream development discourse in the social sciences, (b) political and
economic “discourse on globalization”, (c) ideological discourse within
Africa on African Renaissance & NEPAD? (None of the relevant
documents makes reference to language!)
- What can/will/should be the role of WALS/SLAO as well as that of
ACALAN (African Academy of Languages as commissioned by the AU Heads
of State), and the worldwide linguistic community of the WOCAL
network?
3. THE FUTURE
What then, we may ask, are the major challenges and perspectives for
“applied” African sociolinguistics to guide our work for the coming decades?
I have three answers: (1) Accept the demand for Applied Sociolinguistics in
the particular multilingual African contexts, (2) accept language planning as
being intrinsically related to social and economic planning and engineering,
since in multilingual societies in particular, language planning implies social
planning, and vice versa, and (3) make multilingualism management a high
priority concern of both academics and political decision makers.
It is quite revealing that, in 2009 and for the frst time, need was felt for a
separate WOCAL session on language and development, besides classic
sociolinguistics. In order to approach the challenges, what is needed are what I
call transdisciplinary approaches to the complex subject of language in
culture and society. The notion of Applied Sociolinguistics demands work across
the fuzzy boundaries between African linguistics and its established subfelds
(“hyphenated linguistics”) on the one hand, and the social and cultural sciences
on the other, as far as they focus on Africa (African Studies). In particular, we
would be talking about academic intellectual cross-fertilization between (a)
African sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, educational or pedolinguistics,
contact linguistics, creolistics, ethnolinguistics, etc. on the one hand, and (b)
anthropology, ethnology, history, sociology, political sciences, economy, etc.
on the other.
30 3.1. Spotlight on some core issues of applied african sociolinguistics
3.1.1 Language and development
One of the most urgent core issues of Applied African Sociolinguistics is the
question of language in and for development in Africa. This can be best
illustrated by looking at the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to be
achieved by 2015. Practically all MDG involve a linguistic dimension which,
however, is widely overlooked, in particular by social scientists and
politicians who have no background in linguistics and sociolinguistics. Here is a
list of the MDG:
- Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieving universal primary education
- Promoting gender equality and empower women
- Reducing child mortality
- Improving maternal health
- Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Ensuring environmental sustainability
- Developing a global partnership for development
All these goals are, and to no little extent, based on the transfer of knowledge
which still is a North to South transfer in most cases. Transfer of knowledge
is the core task of education, even if outside the formal education system in
domains covered by NGOs.
In Africa, knowledge transfer usually operates through European languages!
Since any type of successful education presupposes fully functional
communication, and since successful communication presupposes full linguistic
competence in the chosen medium of communication, we need to ask: To
what extent is this basic requirement met (1) by European languages in Africa
in general, (2) by African languages in both rural and urban environments,
and (3) what about urban youth in the mega-cities (reference here is to
multiple semilingualism and the growing importance of urban lifestyle registers)?
There are some disturbing facts and questions to be taken into account here:
(a) 80-95% of Africans, esp. in the rural areas, are not fully competent to
communicate about “new knowledge” in European languages, (b) but can 100%
be assumed do so in African languages – and in which (L1, L2, L3)? (c) And
again: what about urban youth?
It should have become quite obvious that the language issue, i.e. in which
language or languages to operate education for the necessary transfer of
knowledge, is possibly the most important issue in all discourse and planning on and
practice and implementation of, development and modernization in Africa.
31 3.2 Multilingualism Management
One of the major challenges of national politics in Africa dealing with the
language question is to create structures and develop strategies for
mul4tilingualism management. This is, honestly speaking, only a new term
for an old task, which has hardly ever received the necessary
attention. Multilingualism management was never addressed as a task as such,
but was simply implicit in all discourse on language policies and
language planning. This old/new task deserves a fresh approach both
academically and politically which would centre around the following questions:
- What are the scope and targets of multilingualism management proper?
- What are the theoretical foundations of proper?
- Who is supposed to manage exactly what – and how – in multilingualism
management?
- Who monitors whom – and how – in multilingualism management?
Introducing multilingualism management as a high priority task of national
politics would involve, frst of all, to (1) address “polyglossia” (term derived
from better known “diglossia”) in multilingual settings, i.e. the power and
prestige divide between different languages in terms of both territorial and
institutional multilingualism, and (2) create structures and facilities – via the
educational system – to develop and operate both individual and institutional
patterns of multilingualism which would allow for non-elitist upward social
mobility, full democratic participation, building civil society, access to power
and national resources, economic development and socio-cultural
modernization.
In particular, there is the necessity to address a still largely under-researched
topic, namely the societal problems of multiple semilingualism, particularly
affecting urban youth in African mega-cities. By this I refer to obvious
defcits regarding competency in offcial and national and/or mother
tongue-languages. This is intimately linked to problems and prospects pertaining to the
new urban vernaculars (lifestyle registers) such as Sheng, Nouchi, Tsotsitaal
and Isicamtho, Franlof, Camfranglais etc. Their origins lie in the ghettos of
street gangs and juvenile delinquents; apart from serving cryptifcation and
in-group identifcation, their use relates to conscious mental decolonisation
and anti-establishment ideology by urban youth, the latter being nourished by
inter-generational conficts and a growing urban-rural cultural divide. There
is a growing concern among experts regarding the adequacy of prevailing
language competencies among urban youth in Africa in order to meet the
challenges of formal education and national as much as global competition with
age-mates for jobs and professional prospects.
4 I duly acknowledge owing the term and frst discussions about the need to look at
multilingualism management in a narrow and technical sense, to personal communication with my South
African colleague, Vic Webb, some years ago.
32This again has immediate repercussions on the national economic
development. There is nothing wrong in using Sheng or Nouchi or any other “new”
urban language, as long as it is not the only linguistic repertoire but is
accompanied by full and solid competencies in one or several of the received
languages, be it the mother tongue, a lingua franca or national language, and/
or the offcial (ex-colonial) language.
Another interesting question is: Can ex-colonial languages as such, or in a
more or less “Africanized” way following the models of the new urban youth
vernaculars, become “disowned” from the former colonial masters and
become ”re-owned” vehicles of new national identity in Africa?
3.3 The language factor in education
A permanent challenge would take up an all-time topic of WALS/SLAO and
other language associations across Africa and beyond: the policies and
politics of language-in-education. Since this particular challenge has already been
made the topic of countless papers and keynote addresses, I will not go into
any detail here other than listing it among the unsolved burning issues in
Applied African Sociolinguistics.
The years 2005 – 2006 saw a pilot stocktaking research on mother-tongue and
bilingual education in Africa commissioned by UNESCO’s Institute of
Lifelong Learning (UIL) and the Association for the Development of Education in
Africa (ADEA), supported by GTZ (nowadays sailing under the new acronym
GIZ), ahead of and prepared for, the regular biennial meeting of ministers
for education from all African countries in Libreville, Gabon, in 2006. This
research was conducted by an international group of experts and authors:
Hassana Alidou (Niger), Aliou Boly (Burkina Faso), Birgit Brock-Utne (Norway),
Yaya Satina Diallo (Senegal), Kathleen Heugh (South Africa), H. Ekkehard
Wolff (Germany). It was compiled under the title Optimizing learning and
education in Africa – the language factor. Stocktaking research on
mothertongue and bilingual education in sub-Saharan Africa (cf. Hassana Alidou
et al. 2006). The study offers a comprehensive explanation for Africa’s
educational crisis if not catastrophe; it identifes the language factor as playing a
decisive role for success and failure. As one of its authors later writes: “Most
language models used in African education are designed to fail students.”
(Heugh 2007: 52).
First of all, the study broadly confrms what enlightened sociolinguists and
educationists have known for about half a century since UNESCO’s famous
Report on the Use of Vernacular Languages in Education (1953). Its analyses
and conclusions have since been amply corroborated from a countless number
of studies from all around the world including Africa, not the least from the
famous Six Years Primary Project (Nigeria) in the early 1970s.
33 So, we as experts in African sociolinguistics have known for a long time what
we are talking about! Still, the question and big task remains: How do we get
policy makers, their international advisers, and other stakeholders in education
to fnally start listening to us and believe what we are saying?! We are still up
against a wall of prejudice, stereotypes, and ignorance with regard to language
in education, particularly with regard to feasibility and assumed costs which
are ridiculously over-estimated in times of desktop publishing and print on
demand. It is always good to remember the wise remark (whose original author
escaped my memory): If you think education is expensive – try without!
Otherwise, prospects will be dim. Not to re-conceptualize education in Africa
under due recognition of the language factor (1) perpetuates exclusive
strategies of “elite closure” (Myers-Scotton) through language use and thereby
cements the non-democratic “post-colonial class divide”, (2) proliferates the
status quo maintenance syndrome (Alexander) in terms of educational,
political, and economic privileges for the “elites” to the detriment of the “masses”,
and thereby (3) creates “neo-apartheid” and fosters “mediocrity” (Alexander).
In a nutshell: Disregarding the burning language issue in education may tie
African societies into permanent “underdevelopment” and endless
dependence on the mercy of their former colonial masters who nowadays act in the
guise of members of the “donor community”.
3.4 Peace building and confict management by language policy
There is a new topic emerging for Applied African Sociolinguistics, i.e. the
potentials of language policy for confict management and peace building.
Prerequisite would be continued solid research on typology and changing
patterns of multilingualism in Africa pertaining to
- individual multilingualism, i.e. multiple language acquisition and use by
- children, adolescents, adults,
- institutional multilingualism, i.e. language policies at various levels and
institutions,
- territorial multilingualism, i.e. sociolinguistic nation profles incl. de -
scriptions of “multi-monolingualism”.
The new perspective evolves in view of a prospective World Conference on
Language and Peace in 2014 which is initiated by LINGUAPAX, Barcelona,
and is supported by an initiative group of international scholars and
practitioners, incl. the representation of ACALAN. Questions to be raised would be of
the following kind:
- Do language policies have potentials of confict management, or even of
building peace and maintaining peace? And if so, which and how?
34- Is political decentralization (federalization) and the introduction of
ethnolinguistically defned “states” or “regions” as strong administrative units with
their own linguistic legislation, the answer to problems of multiethnic and
multilinguistic nation-building, for instance, in Africa?
African examples worth to be studied in this respect are, frst of all,
postapartheid South Africa and post-imperial and post-socialist Ethiopia. For us
members of WALS/SLAO, the task would be to provide much needed
research-based topical contributions from West Africa in terms of best practice
models, but also of failed models, together with an analysis and explanation
why the ones succeeded and the others failed.
4. OUTLOOK
We could summarize and conclude with the following to- do-list for Applied
African Sociolinguistics. What we would need to do is to ...
1. ...change the theoretical foundations of academic and political discourse on
“development in Africa”.
This amounts to the call for an overdue linguistic turn in all development
discourse on Africa. “Development discourse” is presently monopolized by
social scientists and economists who, by their training, lack serious
academic foundations in (socio-)linguistics. In particular: We still are challenged
to replace “uninformed choices” by “informed choices” (Bamgbose) on the
part of decision-making and policy-implementing stakeholders in favour of
mother- tongue based additive bi- or trilingual models of education, in formal
and informal systems as much as in academic and vocational training.
2. ...exploit the potentials of African cross-border languages.
Here we need to examine the political and economic potentials of African
linguae francae of transnational territorial distribution (ALWC: African
languages of wider communication) in terms of confict management and
peacekeeping across borders, as well as for burden-sharing in African sub-regions
with regard to (a) literacy, (b) education (c) economic and cultural exchange,
via the management and expanded use of cross-border languages. We should
remain aware of the fact that this is also one of ACALAN’s core programs.
3. ...keep providing the material basis for literacy.
This is a long inherited challenge, namely to provide quality linguistic
foundations for pedagogical and post-literacy materials for institutions on all levels
of education and vocational training; in particular comprehensive language
standardization and harmonization, i.e. the creation of standard languages,
including:
- (a) frst documentations of more or less endangered and hitherto undescribed
languages (UNESCO’s mother-tongue languages)
35 - and (b) elaborate philological work for better researched “big” languages
(UNESCO’s community & national languages), in order to make them
teachable at all educational levels including teacher training colleges, universities, and
national language academies. Note again that this is one of ACALAN’s core
programs under the label PAMAPAL (“Pan-African Master-of-Arts Program
in Applied Linguistics”).
4. ...enhance post-literacy and Human Language Technology facilities for
African languages.
This means to provide for the theoretical, technical, and economic foundations
of language industries and professional language services in Africa in terms
of both research, and teaching/training (academic and vocational). This is best
done through involvement in curriculum planning for African “language
engineers” by (a) scanning existing teaching/training programmes for relevant
content, and (b) providing appropriate innovations. This again would link up
with ACALAN’s program PAMAPAL.
5. ...provide organisational-administrative prerequisites for successfully
designing and implementing comprehensive language planning (Bamgbose)

Here we would need to provide, for professional governmental agents and
agencies (e.g. Ministries of Education) and NGOs, the necessary theoretical
and practical strategies, and support the training of staff for science-based
management of institutional multilingualism. The prerequisites would be to (a)
combine insights from African Applied Sociolinguistics with strategies based
on insights from both Institutional/Organizational Sociology and Integrated
Social Marketing, the latter offering a highly innovative approach towards
turning African Ministries of Education into becoming spearheads for social
change through education (cf. the chapter “Managing Educational Reforms in
Africa” by H. E. Wolff in Hassana Alidou 2006).
6. ...address question of “language ownership” with regard to both exoglossic
and endoglossic languages of wider communication.
Who “owns” which language, and what shall be the offcially recognized status
of “non-native varieties” of languages of wider distribution – exoglossic and
endoglossic – i.e., how to solve the growing norm conficts between regional
standards and exoglossic norms (cf. Kenyan English, Kenyan Swahili, Nairobi
Swahili as opposed to British English, Standard Kiswahili [Kiunguja] from
Zanzibar)? This connects to the issue of the new urban vernaculars: What will
or should be their place vis-à-vis the inherited offcial and/or national langua -
ges such as English, French, Afrikaans, Kiswahili, Wolof, Zulu, etc.?
36Here we would be looking at various forms of Franlof in Dakar, FPA versus
Nouchi in Abidjan, Nigerian Pidgin, Camfranglais, various forms of Sheng in
Kenyan cities, South African varieties of Tsotsitaal/Flaaitaal, Isicamtho,
Pretoria Sotho, etc.) The ultimate question would be: What can/shall be their
instrumental and symbolic value in education and national language policies?
7. ...never forget: Language empowerment is speaker empowerment.
How can African sociolinguistics assist speaker communities in terms of
expanding language use to the prestigious domains of education, public affairs,
and economic progress with the aim of not only empowering the language
itself but also empower the speakers? This is based on the insight and
assumption that language planning is social planning and vice versa.
8. ...not forget: language revitalization.
Even though this is a marginal issue in Africa, yet it is relevant. We lack
robust research on the reversibility of language endangerment or even language
death in order to answer the question: How feasible is bottom-up
revitalization in the African context, if (former) speaker communities so wish?
How successful can top-down revitalization projects be like the one for Suba
in Kenya?
REFERENCES
Hassana Alidou, Aliou Boly, Birgit Brock-Utne, Yaya Satina Diallo, Kathleen
Heugh, H. Ekkehard Wolff. 2006. Optimizing learning and education in
Africa – the language factor. Stocktaking research on mother-tongue and
bilingual education in sub-Saharan Africa. Paris: ADEA. [Working Paper / Internet].
http://www.adeanet.org/biennial-2006/doc/document/ B3_1_MTBLE_en.pdf
Heugh, Kathleen. 2007. Implications of the stocktaking study on
mother-tongue and bilingual education in sub-Saharan Africa: who calls which shots? In
Cuvelier, P., du Plessis, T., Meeuwis, M., & Teck, L. (eds) Multilingualism
and Exclusion. Policy, Practice and Prospects. Studies in Language policy in
South Africa, 40-61. Pretoria: Van Schaik.
W olf f, H. Ekkehard. (In press.) Sociolinguistics in the African Context:
thHistory – Challenges – Prospects, Proceedings of the 6 World Congress
of African Linguistics (2009), ed. by Matthias Brenzinger et al. Cologne:
Rüdiger Köppe.
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HIGH VOWEL ALTERNATIONS IN YORUBA
Akinbiyi Akinlabi
Rutgers University
0. INTRODUCTION
In this paper, I discuss an interesting alternation between high vowels and
syllabic nasals in Yoruba, frst reported by Oyelaran (1971). I will argue that
this neutralization is better viewed as vowel reduction, and reduction of
so1nority. I show that Yoruba syllabic nasals may arise from the nasal consonants
/m/ and /n/, as well as from the high vowels /i/ and /u/, following research by
Oyelaran (1971, 1976, 1991).
The core of the formal proposal here is that the high vowel – syllabic nasal
alternation in Yoruba represents a case of vowel reduction in a weak
environment. This is parallel to the reduction of vowels seen in languages like
English in “weak” (or unstressed) syllables. The process is like the reduction of
a full vowel to a schwa observed in languages where such is permitted. The
weak environment in the case of Yoruba is a “deformed” syllable with a high
vowel.
The goal here is to provide a formal insight into Oyelaran (1971)’s original
observation. In doing so I rely heavily on data from Oyelaran’s research, while
supplying additional evidence from other dialects.
1. NASAL CONTRAST AND SYLLABIC NASALS
Oyelaran (1976) notes that there are two non-syllabic contrastive nasals in
Yoruba: /m/ and /n/, as seen in the left columns in (1). Note that [l] alternates
with [n] before oral vowels in Yoruba, as seen in the transcriptions of the frst
examples in (1a) and (1b). (Note that [kp], [gb] are labiovelar stops.)
(1a) Nasal Contrast
ni identity marker Sopé ni ota [sokpé ni ɔta]
‘Sope is winner’
mi ‘I’ (cf. mo) mi o lo ‘I didn’t/wont go’
1 Earlier versions of this paper were presented at CALL 36 (2006) in Leiden, and at GLOW
XXX (2007) in Tromso, and at the WALC 27 (2011) in Abidjan. I am grateful to the audiences
at these conferences, especially Firmin Ahoua, Ben Elugbe, Maarten Mous, Thilo Schadeberg
and Eno Urua, for comments and suggestions. I have benefted from discussions with Paul de
Lacy, Victor Manfredi, Hope McManus, and Olanike Ola-Orie in preparing this version of the
paper, and I thank them for input on the theory and analysis. They are in no way to blame for
the errors in the paper.
39 ̀
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(1b) ni ‘have’ Sopé ni owo [sokpé lowo]
‘Sope has money’
o ni bàba ‘he has (a) father’
mi ‘prog. marker’ mo mi lo ‘I am going’ (as in Ijesa/Ife)
Both of these nasals can become syllabic, constituting the only segment in the
syllable. The syllabic nasal assumes the place of articulation of the following
consonant. The nasal is non-contrastive, and may be exemplifed as
follows (See Bamgbose 1969). In the orthography, only the two nasals (in
(1)) are written, as the orthographic forms in the right column in (2) show.
Throughout this paper, I will sometimes employ both orthographic and IPA
transcriptions of the data, to make clear the alternations being illustrated.
(2a) Within words
Transcription Orthography
[orombo] ‘orange’ orombo
[boɱfo] ‘short skirt’ bonfo
[kpanla] ‘stockfsh’
[iɟaɲɟa] ‘bits and pieces (of meat)’ ijanja
[ogoŋgo] ‘ostrich’ ogongo
[gbaŋmgba] ‘plain view’ gbangba

(2b) In phrases (aspectual marker)
[o m bɔ] ‘he is coming’ o m bo
[o ɱ fo] ‘he is jumping’ o n fo
[o n lɔ] ‘he is going’ n lo
[o ɲ ɟo] ‘he is dancing’ o n jo
[o ŋ ké] ‘he is crying’ o n ké
[o ŋ ho] ‘it is boiling’ o n ho
[o ŋm gbɔ] ‘he is hearing’ o n gbo
Before vowels, the syllabic nasal occurs only in phrases. In this context it
is the alternant of the frst person clitic before the negative particle, and it is
always a velar nasal. In the orthography, it is written as [n], as in the right
column.
(3) mi o lɔ → [ŋ o lɔ] / [mi o lɔ] n o lo
I neg. go ‘I didn’t/wont go’
mi o i lɔ → [ŋ ee lɔ] / [mi o i lɔ]
‘I neg asp. go’ ‘I have not gone’ n èèlo
The above forms (in (2)) can be easily accounted for by assuming a constraint
that calls for the place of articulation of the syllabic nasal to be the same as
that of the following consonant.
40


The assumed underlying form of the syllabic nasal is irrelevant in this case. If
we were to take a rigorous phonemic approach, we would have to assume that
the underlying form of the syllabic nasal in all of the forms in (2) is the velar
nasal [ŋ], since this is the form that occurs both before the glottal consonant
/h/, as well as before vowels (3). The place assimilation of the syllabic nasal
is an “everywhere” process. The assimilation applies within words, as in (2a),
as well as in phrases, as in (2b) and (3).
1.1 Analysis
Descriptively, the assimilation of syllabic nasals before consonants is quite
straightforward, within any of the theories of feature geometry. The place
node of a consonant spreads to the preceding nasal consonant. (But see Ni
Chiosain and Padgett 2001 who suggests that individual place specifcations
are spread in assimilations.) What is interesting is the place of articulation
of the syllabic nasal before a vowel, and before /h/. In this case it is a velar
nasal (Bamgbose 1966:8). This suggests that the default place of the syllabic
nasal is the dorsal place, rather than the coronal place as earlier assumed (See
Bamgbose (1966), Oyelaran (1971) for proposals on Yoruba. See Rice (1996)
on velars as default.) In that case we can assume that when there is no
consonantal place to assimilate to, the syllabic nasal assumes the underlying dorsal
place. This accounts for the occurrence of the dorsal place before vowels and
before /h/. (See de Lacy 2006 for arguments that some phonetically velar
nasals are phonologically glottal.)
Under a theory in which front vowels are coronal and back vowels are dorsal
or labial dorsal (Clements and Hume 1995), we expect a velar nasal only
before dorsal or labial dorsal vowels. However, under a theory in which all
vowels place nodes are under a dorsal node (Sagey 1986, McCarthy 1988), a
syllabic nasal can become velar before any vowel. I will set aside the
assimilation before vowels, since it only takes place before the negative marker /(k)
2o/ whose input form actually contains a dorsal consonant.
1.2 Formal Account
I propose the following formal sketch of the straightforward place assimilation
cases of the syllabic nasal. The nasal consonant assumes the cplace specifca -
tion of the following consonant. For this to happen, the nasal consonant must
succumb to pressures not to retain its assumed place of articulation. I state the
constraints responsible as in (4), and the ranking as in (5).
2 De Lacy (personal communication) has suggested that the nasal and the negative marker’s
/k/ may be coalescing, keeping the Place of Articulation of the /k/ and the nasality of the nasal,
forming [ŋ].
41 ̀
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(4) Constraints for nasal place assimilation.
agree-cplace
nasal
A nasal consonant agrees in place of articulation with a following consonant.
(To be formally interpreted as: “Assign a violation mark for every instance
3of a NC sequence with different places of articulation. )
IDent-place
nasal
The input-output place specifcations of a nasal consonant are the same.
Onset-ID-pl
nas
The input-output place specifcations of an Onset nasal consonant are the
same. For the nasal assimilation to take place, agr-pl must dominate
IDnas
pl (5a). However when a nasal consonant occupies an onset position, it
nas
does not change its place of articulation (5b).
(5) Constraint rankings for nasal place assimilation.
(5a) agr-pl >> ID-pl
nas nas
The preference is for the nasal consonant’s place of articulation to agree with
that of the following consonant, rather than retain its underlying place of
articulation.
(5b) Onset-ID-pl >>agr-pl
nas nas
This would explain why syllabic nasals undergo assimilation, but onset nasals
don’t.
The tableaux in (6) and (7) show the resulting optimal outputs from the
ranking of the three constraints in (4) and (5). The tableau in (6) shows the basic
assimilation of place of articulation to the onset consonant; while the one in
(7) shows that onset nasals do not undergo place assimilation.
(6) orombo ‘orange’
Ons-ID-pl agr-cpl ID-pl oroŋbo nas nas nas
*orombo
oroŋbo *!
oronbo *! *
(7) o ni bàba ‘he has (a) father’
Ons-ID-pl agr-cpl ID-pl
nas nas nas ni bàba!
ni bàba
mi bàba *! *

In all the examples in (2) and (3) a nasal consonant underlies the syllabic
nasal; but this is not the only source of the syllabic nasal in Yoruba. In the rest of
this paper the focus is on the other sources of the syllabic nasal.
3 Violations of markedness constraints in this paper are to be formally interpreted along this
direction.
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2. SYLLABIC NASAL ALTERNATIONS: SOURCES OF THE
SYLLABIC NASAL
Among Yoruba scholars, Oyelaran was the frst to notice that there is a
connection between high (nasal) vowels and the Yoruba syllabic nasal. In a series
of papers (1971, 1976, 1991), he made the case that some of the surface
syllabic nasals derive from underlying high (nasal) vowels. Writing in 1970 in
the pre-feature geometric days, it was understandably diffcult for Oyelaran to
derive a consonant from a high vowel, but he concluded in his 1991 paper that
high nasal vowels “neutralize” to the syllabic nasal. Superfcially therefore,
it would appear that the Yoruba syllabic nasals arise from several different
sources. The syllabic nasal may alternate with (or derive from) (a) a nasal CV,
(b) a nasal high vowel, (c) an oral CV, and (d) an oral high vowel. In the
following subsections I split the sources into two: nasal segment sources (a, b)
and non-nasal segment sources (c, d).
In addition, I will also discuss another source: word initial high oral vowels,
drawing data from both standard Yoruba, as well as from other dialects.
2.1 Nasal segment sources
In normal speech, vowel deletion occurs in the formatives (with a nasal
consonant) in (1) above and (8a) below. The remaining (onset) nasal consonant
becomes syllabic, and homorganic with the following consonant (Oyelaran
(1971, 1976). See also Owolabi (1989:197)). In the case of a following vowel,
the syllabic nasal is realized as a velar nasal (Bamgbose 1966: 8), as noted
above. The forms in (8b) and (8c) are derived from sonorant consonant
deletion before high vowels and “nasal syllabifcation” of the high vowel.
Nasal Consonant+Vowel (consonant or vowel could be nasal)
(8a) /mi o lɔ/ → [ŋ o lɔ] ‘I didn’t/wont go’
I neg. go
/mo ri i ni ilé/ → [mo ri i ńlé]‘I saw him at home’
I see 3sg. at house
(8b) /ominira/ → [onnira] ‘independence’(‘< ara ‘body’)
4 /omuwɛ/ → [oŋwɛ] ‘swimmer’ (< wɛ ‘swim/bathe’)
/omugɔ/ → [oŋgɔ] ‘idiot’ (< gɔ ‘be unintelligent’)
4 Oyelaran (1991:13) proposes oninira and owiwɛ as the respective underlying forms for
[onnira] ‘independence’ and [oŋwɛ] ‘swimmer’. While his suggested inputs make the
derivations easier the actual surface alternations are between the input and output forms in (8b).
43 ́
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(8c) Personal Names
/oyèridé/ → [oyendé] /ri/ → [n]
/ɔlaridé/ → [ɔlandé] /ri/ → [n]
/àyidé/ → [àndé] /yi/ → [n]
/ɔrutɔ/ → [ɔntɔ] /ru/ → [n]
On the other hand, the syllabic nasal can also result from an underlying high
nasal vowel, as in (9).
High (Nasal) Vowel
(9)u → n
[ouɟɛ] ~ [oɲɟɛ] ‘food’ (< ou + ɟɛ ‘thing + eat’)
[ougbɛ] ~ [oŋmgbɛ] ‘thirst’(< ou + gbɛ ‘thing + be dry’)
(Osun dialect, Barber 1976:288)
/ou lo gbaya ɛ lɔwɔ ɔ mi/ →[n lo gbaya ɛ lɔwɔ ɔ mi]
3sg. foc-3sg take-wife 3sg. from-hand me
“It is he who snatched his wife from me”
We can make the following generalizations from the data in (8) and (9). The
data in (8a) derives from vowel deletion, and syllabifcation of the nasal
consonant. The analysis of these forms must be similar to the one given for the
forms in (2) in the preceding section, since the inputs contain a nasal
consonant. The data in (8b, c) and (9) derive from consonant deletion (when one is
present as in (8c) and subsequent change of the nasal vowel to syllabic nasal.
5(But see Oyelaran (1991) for a different analysis. ) See Abimbola and
Oyelaran (1975) and Akinlabi (1991, 1993, in prep) for deletions of different types
6of sonorant consonants.
These data reveal that the syllabic nasal can derive from a nasal consonant [n]
or [m], as well as from a high nasal vowel. I will provide a unifed account of
the forms with a high nasal vowel and forms with a high oral vowel below.
5 It is also possible to derive the examples in (8a) by deleting the nasal consonant and
consequent change of the high vowel to a syllabic nasal, just as in the examples in (8c) and (9). The
problem with this is three-fold. First we must assume that nasal consonants are delete-able in
this context. Secondly, the well-known Yoruba [l] ~ [n] alternation is no longer one between
[l] and [n], but one between [l] and a high vowel. Thirdly, this solution raises a problem for the
independent process of vowel deletion, which regularly deletes “high vowels” before another
vowel in this context. Because of these problems, I assume that it is the nasal consonant, rather
than the high vowel, that underlies the syllabic nasal in (8a).
6 The nasal consonant deletion in (8b) is unproductive.
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2.2 Non-nasal segment sources
The more interesting examples are those of syllabic nasals derived from
function words Oyelaran (1991). The function words optionally lose their initial
consonants, except when they occur utterance initially. I will also split these
examples into oral Consonant+Vowel (CV) forms and oral vowel (V) forms.
The forms include the gerundive formative (Ci), the relative clause marker [ti]
(= CV), and the negative affx [i] (= V), among others. In all cases we must
derive the syllabic nasal from a high vowel.
Oral CV
(i) Gerundial formative (focused verb):
The gerund is marked in Yoruba by prefx consisting of high-toned vowel [i]
and a copy of the consonant of the verb stem (Akinlabi 2006). This form
alternates with one in which the gerund is marked by a syllabic nasal, as in (10a)
and (10b) respectively. (kpɛ ‘be late’)
(10a) kpikpɛ ni yoo kpɛ, akololo yoo kpe ‘bàba’ ([kpikpɛ])
being late – FOC – FUT – be late, stammer – FUT – call – ‘father’
(10b) ŋmkpɛ ni oo kpɛ, akololo oo kpe ‘bàba’
([ŋmkpɛ])
It may take long, the stammer will pronounce ‘father’.
The gerund can also occur in ‘incantations’. The forms in (11) show that
alternation is possible whenever there is a gerundial formative. (yɛ ‘be well with,
beftting’; rɔ ‘be soft’)
(11a) o ni yiyɛ ni i yɛ ɛyɛlé → o ni ɲyɛ ni i yɛ ɛyɛlé
([yiyɛ]~[ɲyɛ])
3sg. – say - being well – FOC – be well – pigeon
He says all is always well with the pigeon.
(11b)
rirɔ ni i rɔ àdàbà lɔru → nrɔ ni i rɔ àdàbà lɔu
([rirɔ]~[nrɔ])
being soft – FOC – be soft – dove – at neck
It is never diffcult for the dove.
The idea in (10) and (11) above is that the consonant of the gerundial prefx
(kp], [y], [r]) is deleted, and the remaining high vowel becomes a syllabic
nasal, which then assimilates the place of articulation of the following consonant
as usual.
45

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