5th BICCL: Conference report

The Fifth Biennial International Colloquium on the Chadic Languages (BICCL) has taken place in Leipzig from June 10 to 14, 2009. Here is a short report.

Most of the participants arrived on Wednesday 10th. In the evening, we had an informal get-together at “Café Kowalski“, a restaurant close to Villa Tillmans, the University Guest House where the conference took place and where most of us stayed.

The conference started on Thursday 11th at 8.30 in the morning, with about 30 participants. Many of them had  come for the first time. In his opening remarks Ekkehard Wolff gave a special welcome to Paul Newman and Roxana Ma-Newman from Bloomington, Indiana and to Hak-Soo Kim, who had come all the way from Hankuk, Korea. There were also two young colleagues from Scandinavia: Harald Hammarström from Gothenburg, Sweden and Marit Lobben from Oslo, Norway.

A special greeting was given to Paul Newman and Roxana Ma Newman.

Ekkehard Wolff mentioned that it might be the last time for the conference to take place in Leipzig, as he was about to retire and the fate of African Studies in Leipzig was uncertain. But even though he would retire as the chair of the Department of African Languages, he would continue  his research: “Watch out for me!”

In the first paper of the morning and the conference, Norbert Cyffer talked about areal features of Chadic and Nilo-Saharan syntax: “What‘s Chadic? What‘s Saharan?”

This was followed by Victor Porkhomovsky’s paper on “Kinship terms in Chadic and Hamito-Semitic from a diachronic perspective”. He offered some fresh insights on kinship terms gained from the AAKTS database using the KinShIP computer programme.

The third paper was by Gábor Takács from Szekesfehervar, Hungary, on some “Chadic Lexical Roots” related to hunting and their Afro-Asiatic background.

After a short coffee break, Olga Stolbova in her paper “Chadic Lexical Database – a project in process” presented some reflexes with sibilants and sibilant affricates in the anlaut.

Next came Vaclav Blazek‘s paper on “Chadic words for ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ and Harald Hammarström‘s paper on “Numerals in Chadic”.

After our lunch break we started the afternoon session, chaired by Sergio Baldi. First, Roger Blench gave us a short presentation on Baka,  a so far unreported Central Chadic language).  He also talked about some of his other work in progress.

This was followed by a paper by Georg Ziegelmeyer “On the adjective class in Bade” and one by Theda Schumann on “Postural Demonstratives in Masa.

After the coffee break, we listened to three more papers. First, Birgit Hellwig talked about “Lexical aspect in Goemai (West Chadic) – a contact phenomenon?” Next was Roger Blench‘s paper on “Plural verbs in Mwaghavul“. The final paper for the day was presented by Heike Andreas, who talked about “The marking of Tense-Aspect-Mood (TAM) in Nyam“.

In the evening, we had an informal gathering at the “Moritz Bastei“, a Student Club in a place which used to be part of the Leipzig city wall.

The second day’s morning session was all about Hausa. It started with a paper by Marit Lobben on “The agreement marker origin of Hausa causative and benefactive suffixes”. Next, Joe McIntyre proposed a description of the Hausa Verbal System without  ‘grades’. The third paper was by Phil Jaggar, who proposed to move Hausa “subordinating conjunctions” (‘after’) and “adverbs” (‘behind, at the back’) into the preposition category.

After the coffee break, the topic was “lexicography”. First,  Paul Newman presented a linguistic detective story: “Why /j/ is the last letter in Mischlich’s Hausa Dictionary.” Next, Henri Tourneux talked about Heinrich Barth‘s contribution to Kotoko lexicography and Doris Löhr presented some insights on “Idiomatic expressions in Malgwa“. Finally, Ari Awagana gave a paper on Buduma lexicography.

Henri Tourneux talks about Heinrich Barth's contribution to Kotoko lexicography

After the lunch break, we heard three papers on different aspects of  Central Chadic languages.  First, Hak-Soo Kim talked about the “Some aspects of the Guduf verbal system”. Next came Mohammed Muazu’s paper on “Kilba morphological processes”, followed by Jonathan Owens‘ paper on “Glavda verbal morphology”.

After the coffee break, two more papers were presented: Richard Gravina talked about “The Internal Classification of Chadic Biu-Mandara” and Sergio Baldi presented some aspects of Bole-Tangale nouns and pronouns.

In the evening, we had Italian food in town and afterwards some of us met again at Villa Tillmanns, where we spent a nice evening singing oldies. Besides Joe McIntyre, Richard Gravina proved himself to be a skilled musician and singer.

Joe McIntyre and Richard Gravina singing some "oldies"

On Saturday morning, we heard two papers on Oral Literature. First, Ekkehard Wolff presented some interesting facts about “Constructional “Rhymes” in Lamang Verbal Art”. Next, Adam Mahamat talked about Topics in Makary Kotoko oral literature. Another paper (“Anthroponymie et histoire des Moundang Za-sin (Nord-Cameroun)”) that had been scheduled wasn’t presented, because Alain D. Taino Kari couldn’t  get to the conference in time.

“Focus” was the topic of the two papers after the coffee break. First, Andreas Haida and Katharina Hartmann talked about “Focus asymmetries in Central Chadic languages”. Next, Peggy Jacob compared “Optional Focus Marking in Tar B’arma, Tangale and Bura“.

After the lunch break, the remaining papers all had to do with semantics. First, Baba Mai Bello talked about “Metaphors and euphemisms in the discourse of HIV/AIDS in Hausa“. Next, Maria Schubert presented “The concept of VEHICLE in Hausa for L1- and L2-speakers”. The last paper of the day and the conference was presented byDymitr Ibriszimow and Balarabe Zulyadaini, who talked about “Deep love, mutual visits or quarrel: Hausa ‘relationship’, ‘family’ and women from a cognitive semantic point of view”.

After Ekkehard Wolff’s closing remarks, the conference went on with a surprise for him: Paul Newman, Phil Jaggar, Henri Tourneux, Victor Porkhomovsky, Larry Hyman (who had come as a surprise visitor), Norbert Cyffer and Ari Awagana each delivered a short speech, as a farewell to Ekkehard Wolff and in order to express their appreciation.

Ekkehard was presented with some gifts, including a book where the conference participants had also left some personal notes to him. During the following Farewell Reception in the Garden of Villa Tillmanns, Joe McIntyre played and sang some more, to everyone’s enjoyment.

Altogether, this was a great conference. “Thank you!” to the organizers.  I  look forward to the next BICCL, which will be in Paris in 2011.

If you want to see more of the pictures I took during the conference, visit www.flickr.com/photos/hausaonline. There, you can still find some pictures of the last BICCL in Bayreuth 2007, too. Roger Blench, too, has some conference pictures on his website.


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