SIL International Media Release

SIL research presented at African linguistics conference

(April 2009) The findings of two SIL linguistic researchers will be presented at the 40th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL) in Urbana, Illinois, USA. Kenneth Olson, Ph.D., will be presenting a paper co-authored with Will Reiman, "The historical development of the linguolabial plosive in Bijago."

Linguolabial consonants are rare. Until now, they have only been documented in seven Austronesian languages in Vanuatu. The SIL paper documents a language in Guinea-Bissau, the Kajoko dialect of Bijago, which has the first known occurrence of a plain voiced linguolabial plosive—significant to phonetics and language typology. The sound in Kajoko patterns as a labial both synchronically and diachronically, which is of interest in phonology and historical linguistics.

Based on other research by Kenneth Olson, a new symbol was added in 2005—the first in 12 years—to the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The sound represented by that symbol, a labiodental flap, is used in more than 70 languages in Africa.

ACAL is held every tenth year at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), where the first conference was held. This year's conference is being held 9–11 April, and has as its theme, African languages and linguistics today: 40th anniversary celebration.

Invited speakers

Keynote speaker, Prof. Ayo Bamgbose (Professor Emeritus, University of Ibadan, Nigeria)

Plenary speakers

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