New paper on Gizey (Masa)

A new paper on Gizey (Masa) has been uploaded at Springer Link:
Guitang, G. (2021). ‘Frozen reduplication in Gizey: insights into analogical reduplication, phonological and morphological doubling in Masa‘

The paper can be viewed here:

New Paper on South Bauchi languages

Roger Blench has uploaded a new paper titled “The South Bauchi languages: Nigeria’s largest group of (almost) unknown languages” on

The South Bauchi languages are West Chadic languages spoken around Bauchi town. Although there are some forty languages, few have been studied by linguists and even fewer have any language development. The best-known languages are Zaar, Boghom, Geri and Zul. The talk reviews what is known and presents the results of fresh fieldwork undertaken in 2019. We found that some languages are down to the last few speakers and urgent research is required to document these languages before they disappear. South Bauchi languages are known for their complex phonologies, and as a consequence, there are many problems in developing effective writing systems. The presentation offers some suggestions for the priority research agenda.

Read the paper at


Afrika und Übersee now published online and open access

Afrika und Übersee, founded in 1910 by Carl Meinhof under the name Zeitschrift für Kolonialsprachen, is the oldest academic journal for African linguistics worldwide.

Since 2021, Afrika und Übersee is published online as an Open Access journal by the Abteilung für Afrikanistik und Äthiopistik in the Asien-Afrika-Institut at Universität Hamburg.

The current issue, Vol. 93 (2020), includes some articles and papers touching Chadic languages:

Download Issue 93 (2020) (PDF)

Skype talk on “Sentence-final particles in Barayin”

Joseph Lovestrand has sent the following invitation to another Skype Talk:

The Chadic Languages & Cultures group, run by Cameroonian linguists, is meeting online Saturday 28 August, 9 AM, Cameroon time (UTC+1). All are welcome to join the discussion (in French and English)!

Chadic Languages & Cultures
Saturday, 28 August, 2021
9 AM (Cameroon time, UTC+1)
Join via Skype:

Sentence-final particles in Barayin
Joseph Lovestrand
SOAS University of London

This presentation is a first exploration of the distribution and functions of seven sentence-final particles in Barayin based on the analysis of a 25,000-word corpus, primarily of transcribed monologues (Lovestrand 2017). The first two types of particles are widespread in Chadic languages: the negation marker /do/ and the interrogative marker /saŋ/. These markers only occur in a sentence-final position and appear to be monofunctional. These markers are closely related to the next two. The conjunction /sane/ ‘or’ can act as a conjunction presenting alternatives, but in a sentence-final position it is an interrogative marker with essentially the same function as /saŋ/. The sentence-final particle /kudi/ always follows the negation marker /do/. Its precise function is not clear, but it is assumed to intensify the negator in a similar sense to the expression “not at all” in English or “pas du tout” in French. The particle /atti/ seems to have a general affirmative function. It is used on its own to express agreement in dialogues. As a sentence-final particle in monologues, its function is less clear, but it could be interpreted as an intensifier analogous to “really” in English.

The other two sentence-final particles in the corpus are words from Chadian Arabic. The word /kalas/ or /halas/ is from Chadian Arabic ‘finished’. It is the 11th most frequent word in the corpus. In addition to occurring at the end of sentences, it is sometimes found transcribed in a sentence-initial position or on its own, suggesting it can appear as an interjection without being part of an adjacent clause. There are cases where /kalas/ or /halas/ is followed by the background marker /ná/ (Lovestrand 2018) thus verifying its integration in the syntax. The other Arabic-origin sentence-final particle is /bas/ ‘only’. This word is sometimes used to simply mean ‘only’, and in this function it can also occur in a non-final position. As a sentence-final particle, /bas/ can take on pragmatic functions of emphasis and downplaying in a manner analogous to some uses of “just” in English. Note that /bas/ in Chadian Arabic is not a sentence-final particle.

Lovestrand, Joseph. 2012. The linguistic structure of Baraïn (Chadic). Dallas, TX: Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics MA thesis. (2 December, 2020).

Lovestrand, Joseph. 2017. Recording and archiving Barayin (Jalkiya) language data. London, SOAS: Endangered Languages Archive. (2 December, 2012).

Lovestrand, Joseph. 2018. The background marker na in Barayin. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 39(1). 1–39.

Skype talk on “The grammaticalization of TAM markers in Mafa “

Joseph Lovestrand has sent the following invitation to another Skype Talk:

The Chadic Languages & Cultures group, run by Cameroonian linguists, is meeting online Saturday 7 August, 9 AM, Cameroon time (UTC+1). All are welcome to join the discussion (in French and English)!

Chadic Languages & Cultures
Saturday, 29 May, 2021
9 AM (Cameroon time, UTC+1)
Join via Skype:

Séraphine Dougophe
Université de Yaoundé 1

The grammaticalization of TAM markers in Mafa

The presentation considers the grammaticalization of tense, aspect and mood markers in Mafa with a focus on markers whose origin could be traced back and provides valuable information on the state of evolution of grammatical categories in the language. Most Mafa TAM markers (future, completive, intentional, habitual, subjunctive) derive from movement verbs, but there are others who originated from preposition (pp-periphrasis for the progressive) and adverb (iterative). While some grams are still in the early stage of grammaticalization marked by formal similarity to their source and their orientation with regard to speech participants (speaker-oriented versus agent-oriented), others are in an advanced stage of grammaticalization as illustrated by the phonological and morphological reduction they seemingly underwent.

La présentation examine la grammaticalisation des marqueurs de temps, d’aspect et de mode en Mafa en mettant l’accent sur les marqueurs dont l’origine a pu être retracée et fournit des informations précieuses sur l’état d’évolution des catégories grammaticales dans la langue. La plupart des marqueurs de TAM en Mafa (futur, complétif, intentionnel, habituel, subjonctif) dérivent des verbes de mouvement, mais il y en a d’autres qui ont pour origine une préposition (périphrase du syntagme prépositionnel pour le progressif) et l’adverbe (itératif). Alors que certaines grams sont encore au stade précoce de la grammaticalisation marquée par la similarité formelle avec leur source et leur orientation par rapport aux participants au discours (orienté vers le locuteur ou vers l’agent), d’autres sont à un stade avancé de la grammaticalisation comme l’illustre la réduction phonologique et morphologique qu’elles ont apparemment subie.

Obituary for Professor Ahmad Tela Baba, PhD.

Our colleague and friend Ahmad Tela Baba sadly departed this world unexpectedly on October 12, 2020. Ahmad left behind his wife, children, and grandchildren.

I first got to know Ahmad, who was born on February 2, 1960, in 1989 when I was on my first research trip in northeastern Nigeria. While we were together at the University of Maiduguri where he was working as a junior lecturer at the Department of Languages and Linguistics, he invited me to visit him and his family in his hometown of Shira in Bauchi State. This was the beginning of a long joint research that led, among other things, to Ahmad’s PhD dissertation, two books written together, and to something much more valuable: a friendship that stood the test of time despite the fact that we worked and lived in different places and had no chance to meet in person after 2010.

Ahmad Tela Baba built an academic career at the University of Maiduguri after his dissertation “The morphophonological alternations in the Hausa verbal form (1998)” at Bayero University Kano. He worked as a senior lecturer and later professor at different universities in northern Nigeria, but his base always remained the University of Maiduguri where he taught until his last day.

As part of the academic exchange between the universities of Maiduguri and Frankfurt am Main within the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 268 “Cultural Development and Language History in the Natural Environment of the West African Savannah”, he visited Germany and worked with his colleagues Alhaji Maina Gimba, Dymitr Ibriszimow, and me on cultural vocabulary in Hausa and Bole (both Chadic languages spoken in Nigeria). Later he worked on L2 variants in the Nigerian Middle-Belt and at the eastern fringe of the Hausa language area.

From 2003 to 2005 he worked at the University of Bayreuth as a Hausa lecturer. He was extensively engaged in the academic sphere and was highly respected by his students, who greatly appreciated his style of teaching. All his colleagues admired Ahmad and his friendly character; he was a friend and partner who was always ready to discuss and collaborate.

None of us at the University of Bayreuth who knew Ahmad will ever forget him!

This obituary was written by Michael Broß and first appeared on the website of the University of Bayreuth

10th World Congress of African Linguistics (WOCAL)

The 10th World Congress of African Linguistics (WOCAL) is presently taking place online at Leiden University, June 7-12, 2021. The conference theme is African languages for sustainable societies and knowledge creation. The final programme and book of abstracts are available here.

Access to the online workshops, talks, and social events requires registration. After the conference, all presenters are encouraged to upload their pre-recorded presentations to the WOCAL 10 OSF Meeting, which makes the presentation openly accessible to the public.

Skype Talk on “The Determiner in Makary Kotoko Narrative Discourse”

Joseph Lovestrand has sent the following invitation to another Skype Talk:

The Chadic Languages & Cultures group, run by Cameroonian linguists, is meeting online Saturday 29 May, 5 PM, Cameroon time (GMT+1). All are welcome to join the discussion (in French and English)!

Chadic Languages & Cultures
Saturday, 29 May, 2021
5-6 PM (Cameroon time, GMT+1)
*Note the later time compared to previous sessions*
Join via Skype:

Hannah Olney
Trinity Western University (Canada)


The Makary Kotoko [Chadic] determiner is not a grammatically obligatory marker. Although constrained by the identifiability of the referent, speakers are not required to use the determiner in any particular instance. In narrative texts, the distribution of the determiner can be understood through the principles of attention guidance and salience. The primary pattern of distribution is “salience tracking”, where referents receive determiner marking any time they are directly involved in the narrative. Exceptions to this pattern still contribute to the narrator’s overall goal of attention guidance. In addition, two texts displayed a different distribution pattern, “salience flagging”, where the determiner occurred less frequently but still for the purpose of attention guidance. Finally, I propose that the difference between these two patterns may be a result of the process of determiner grammaticalization.

[The presentation will be in English.]

Skype talk on an NLP project on the Zaar and Hausa languages

Joseph Lovestrand has sent us the following message:

The Chadic Languages & Cultures group, run by Cameroonian linguists, is meeting online again this Saturday April 24, 9 AM, Cameroon time (GMT+1). All are welcome to join the discussion (in French and English)!

Chadic Languages & Cultures
Saturday, April 24, 2021
9-10 am (Cameroon time, GMT+1)
Join via Skype:

Bernard Caron will present his upcoming work on treebanks and automated descriptive grammars for an NLP project (CNRS) on the Zaar and Hausa languages.

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