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Bantu Historical Linguistics

Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives

edited by Jean-Marie Hombert and Larry M. Hyman

This collection brings together most of the world's leading Bantuists, as well as some of the most promising younger scholars interested in the history, comparison, and description of Bantu languages. The Bantu languages, numbering as many as 500, have been at the center of cutting-edge theoretical research in phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. Besides the issues of classification and internal sub-grouping, this volume treats historical and comparative aspects of many of the significant typological features for which this language group is known: vowel height harmony, noun classes, elaborate tense-aspect systems, etc. The result is a compilation that provides the most up-to-stand understanding of these and other issues that will be of interest not only to Bantuists and historical linguists, but also to those interested in the phonological, morphological and semantic issues arising within these highly agglutinative Bantu languages.

Jean-Marie Hombert is Professor of Linguistics at the Université Lumière Lyon2 and director of the Laboratoire Dynamique du Langage (Université Lumière Lion2 C.N.R.S.). Larry M. Hyman is Professor of Linguistics and Chair of the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley.


  • 1. Classification and linguistic theory
    • Towards a historical classification of East African Bantu languages Derek Nurse
    • Subclassifying Bantu: the evidence of stem morpheme innovation Christopher Ehret
    • Classifications lexicostatistiques: bantou, bantou et bantoïde. De l’intérêt des ‘groupes flottants’ Yvonne Bastin & Pascale Piron
    • A note on historical and geographical relations among the Bantu languages Michael Mann
    • Contract and lexicostatistics in Comparative Bantu studies Thomas J. Hinnebusch
  • 2. Comparative and Historical Phonology
    • Nasal vowel creation without nasal consonant deletion, and the eventual loss of vowels thus created: the pre-Bantu case John M. Stewart
    • The historical interpretation of vowel harmony in Bantu Larry M. Hyman
    • Remarks on the sound of correspondences between Proto-Bantu and Tswana (S.31) Denis Creissels
    • Vowel systems and spirantization in S.W. Tanzania Catherine Labroussi
    • Katupa's Law in Makhuwa Thilo C. Schadeberg
    • Unresolved puzzles in Bantu historical tonology Gérard Philippson
  • 3. Comparative and Historical Morphology
    • L'augment en bantou du nord-ouest Claire Grégoire & Baudouin Janssens
    • Les formes nomino-verbales de classes 5 et 15 dans les langues bantoues du Nord-Ouest Pascale Hadermann
    • Future and distal -ka-'s: Proto-Bantu or nascent form(s)? Robert Botne
    • Tense and aspect in Lacustrine Bantu languages Derek Nurse & Henry Muzale
    • The genesis of verbal negation in Bantu and its dependency on functional features of clause types Tom Güldemann
  • Language Index


ISBN (Paperback): 1575862042 (9781575862040)
ISBN (Cloth): 1575862034 (9781575862033)
ISBN (Electronic): 1575868938 (9781575868936)

Subject: Linguistics; Bantu Languages—Classification; Bantu Languages—Phonology

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