Descriptive Linguistics Programme

The Descriptive Linguistics Programme will consist of four courses: The structure of Iraqw, Typology of Focus, Tone: Fieldwork and analysis, and Technology for Linguistic Fieldwork. 

Slot 1: The Structure of Iraqw, in a Cushitic and a typological perspective (9.30-11.00)

Maarten Mous (Leiden)

Course description
The aim of the course is to present an overview of the grammatical structures of Iraqw, a Cushitic language of Tanzania. I concentrate on the topics where Iraqw provides insights into the properties of language structure in general, the remarkable features. I indicate in what respects Iraqw is typically Cushitic and which typical Cushitic features are not present in Iraqw (being geographically far from core Cushitic). Having done most of the analysis of Iraqw myself, I show how typological and theoretical insights shape the analysis of this particular language.
Iraqw has pharyngeal and uvular obstruents in its phoneme inventory. One of the phonological processes is progressive vowel assimilation though these consonants as well as through velars challenging some ideas about feature geometry. Number and gender are interrelated in a fascinating and typically Cushitic pattern: the “third” value for gender is “plural”; number is a separate derivational category. Every Iraqw sentence contains two independent sentence constituting elements: the verb and a separate inflectional complex; the latter is a the most complex part of Iraqw grammar and plays an interesting role in the organisation of Iraqw syntax: there are strict restrictions in what can appear between it and the sentence final verb.
I expect this course to be of value to those interested in the process of writing a grammar but also to those who in their research use grammars of languages they are unfamiliar with and who want become familiar with Cushitic.

Reading list
I can provide pdf files of the course readings. Some are also available on my Academia site.

Course readings (in advance of the lecture)
Mous, Maarten forthcoming. Iraqw structure.
Hulst, Harry van der and Maarten Mous. 1992. “Transparent consonants”. In Linguistics in the Netherlands 1992, ed. Reineke Bok-Bennema and Roeland van Hout, pp. 101-112. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Mous, Maarten 2008. Number as exponent of gender in Cushitic. In Interaction of Morphology and Syntax: case studies in Afroasiatic, ed. by Zygmunt Frajzynger and Erin Shay, pp. 137-160. (Typological Studies in Language, 75.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Mous, Maarten and Martha Qorro 2010. The syntactic function of a scope marking suffix in Iraqw. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 31: 47–78
Kooij, Jan and Maarten Mous. 2002. “Incorporation: a comparison between Iraqw and Dutch”. Linguistics 40(3): 629-645.
Roland Kießling, Maarten Mous and Derek Nurse. 2008. “The Rift valley area of Central Tanzania as a linguistic contact zone” In A Linguistic Geography of Africa, ed. by Bernd Heine and Derek Nurse, pp. 186-227. Cambridge: CUP.
Maarten Mous and Martha Qorro 2009. "Loanwords in Iraqw, a Cushitic language of Tanzania" In: Haspelmath, Martin & Tadmor, Uri (eds.) Loanwords in the world's languages: A comparative handbook. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter

Background and additional readings
Berger, Paul and Roland Kiessling (eds.) 1998. Iraqw Texts. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe.
Mous, Maarten. 1993. A grammar of Iraqw (Cushitic Language Studies, 9). Hamburg: Helmut Buske.
Mous, Maarten, Martha Qorro and Roland Kießling. 2002. An Iraqw - English Dictionary (Cushitic Language Studies,15) Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe.
Mous, Maarten 2012. Cushitic. In Zygmunt Frajzyngier & Erin Shay (Eds.), The Afroasiatic languages (Cambridge Language Surveys) (pp. 342-422). Cambridge: Cambrige University Press

Slot 2: Typology of Focus (11.30-13.00)

Christian Rapold (Regensburg)

Course description and outline
A: Am I annoying you?
B: No, YOU're not annoying me!

How information is presented — which parts are emphasised and how — is a crucial component of communication and often characterised by complex mechanisms.
While the old term “emphatic marker” of traditional grammars has gone largely out of use and “focus” is a flourishing area of research very much en vogue, the area is a terminological minefield and progress made in recent years sometimes remains secluded behind walls of different linguistic schools.

In this course we attempt to gain a deeper insight into focus in a typological perspective, regarding both form and meaning of focus constructions.

- What types of focus are there and how are they marked in the languages of the world?
- What is focus anyway, or rather, what are the most influential definitions?
- Where do focus markers come from and what do they develop into?
- How do I find focus in my language? What tests are there, and what are their limits?

Also covered in the course is theticity, where whole utterances seem to be in focus.

YOU should take this course.
You should TAKE this course.
You should take THIS course.

There will be frequent reading assignments and short participant presentations in class. All literature will be made available in class.

Slot 3: Tone: Fieldwork and analysis (14.00-15.30)

Anne-Christie Hellenthal (SIL Ethiopia)

Course description
The majority of the world’s languages, including most endangered languages, are tone languages. Those who study such languages or plan to do so need a strategy for handling tone. With a best practice methodology the task of discovering and analysing tone becomes much easier. This course aims at preparing researchers for fieldwork on tonal languages through a combination of discussing theoretical topics and practicing hands-on the hearing, mimicking and transcribing of tone.

Course outline
The theoretical part includes an overview of tone in the world’s languages, discussion of surface and underlying tones, a typology of tone systems and possible functions of tone in the lexicon and the grammar. Moreover, ample time will be given to consider a practical approach for collecting data and interpreting it, answering such questions as:
- Where to start?
- How to work together with consultans?
- How to write down surface pitch?
- How to interpret the surface pitch/tone in terms of contrastice tonemes?
- What is the role of technical devices in discovering the tone system of a language?
Furthermore, frequent tone rules are presented, such as tone spreading, shifting, downstep and upstep. As time allows, additional topics such as depressor consonants, other tone rules, tone in the orthography and tone teaching can be added.

The practical part consists of exercises in listening to and transcription of tone, as well as in reading tone out loud. Some exercises in discovering and describing tone rules in a given set of data are also provided.

Level and requirements
While my experience is mainly with tone languages in Ethiopia, the approach should be valid for tone languages world-wide. Armed with a pragmatic methodology, some skill in hearing, reading and writing tone, and knowledge of the typological background, researchers will be able to make a good start in the field and develop their research on tone in the language of their choice.

Slot 4: Technology for Linguistic Fieldwork (16.00-17.30)

Martin Kohlberger (Leiden)

Course description
Given the rapid advance of technology, there are increasingly more tools available for field linguists. Not only do these tools help the linguist in various ways, but they allow for much more in-depth, detailed and systematic investigation than what was possible even a few decades ago. In fact, some of these tools are becoming indispensable for the field.

Course outline
This course will train students to use a wide range of tools that can be used for linguistic fieldwork. The first week will focus on tools for data collection, including audio and video recording, as well as various field phonetics techniques. The second week will focus on data analysis software, including Praat, ELAN, and FieldWorks among others.

A laptop will be required for this course.