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  • Author: Birgit Hellwig x
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Abstract

This paper describes fieldwork experiences among the Goemai of Central Nigeria. It first introduces the fieldwork setting, and then focuses on one illustrative example: the investigation of property-denoting (‘adjectival’) expressions. The paper describes the different methods employed, compares them, and evaluates their results. It shows some advantages and disadvantages, and – on this basis – advocates using a combination of methods in order to benefit from each method's advantages while counterbalancing its disadvantages. In particular, the paper argues in favour of a semantics-based approach to fieldwork, illustrating the invaluable insights to be gained from it.

Abstract

This paper discusses issues of language contact within the Jos Plateau sprachbund of Central Nigeria. It is known that the non-related Chadic and Benue-Congo languages of this region share numerous lexical and structural similarities, but it is largely unknown whether they also share similarities in their semantics and lexicalization patterns. This paper explores convergences in one such area: the lexicalization of property — or adjectival — concepts in the Chadic (Angas-Goemai and Ron groups) and Benue-Congo (Jukunoid, Tarok and Fyem) languages of the southern part of this sprachbund. It presents evidence that these non-related languages share a common lexicalization pattern: the predominant coding of property concepts in state-change verbs. This pattern is probably not of Chadic origin, and it is possible that it has entered the Chadic languages of the Jos Plateau through language contact.

Abstract

This article discusses the semantics and pragmatics of postural, existential and positional verbs occurring in the basic locative construction of Goemai, a West Chadic language of Central Nigeria. The Goemai system is of special interest to the typology proposed in this issue, as it presents language-internal evidence for the existence of two different types of locative verbs: postural-type verbs and positional-type verbs. In most respects, Goemai patterns with postural-type languages: it has a small set of postural verbs that codes a limited range of semantic notions and that is used in both assertional and presuppositional ways. In addition, Goemai can recruit other verbs to occur in the basic locative construction: an existential verb that is available in many contexts where other postural-type languages tend to resort to the presuppositional use of posturals; and positional verbs that constitute a distinct form class and that can be used in an assertional way only. The article investigates the interaction of postural, existential, and positional verbs in Goemai, relating them to the proposed typology.

Abstract

Chadic languages are known for marking verbal number, and Goemai is no exception. When comparing Goemai to other Chadic languages, however, several differences emerge: the inventory is exceptionally large; the verbs come from all lexical fields; and they are used to indicate participant number rather than event number. Contrary to expectations, the marking of participant number does not only cover intransitive subjects and transitive objects, but also some transitive subjects and peripheral arguments. These patterns have a semantic basis, and this chapter explores the interaction of verbal number, transitivity and semantic roles in Goemai.