SIL Research presented at African linguistics conference
(June 2011) The findings of four SIL linguistic researchers were presented at the 42nd Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL), “African Languages in Context,” hosted by the University of Maryland. Presentations by a diverse group of international scholars covered a wide range of topics of particular relevance to African languages.
Presentations by SIL linguists related to the phonology and syntax of question formation, phonology and morphological tone, and spatial semantics:
- Mike Cahill, Ph.D. (SIL International):
“Polar Question Intonation in Konni”
- Tim Stirtz, MA (SIL Sudan, University of Leiden): "Polar Tone in Laarim, a Surmic Language of Sudan"
- Doris Payne, Ph.D. (SIL International, University of Oregon): "Directionals in lexical and syntactic context"
- Virginia Beavon-Ham, MA (SIL Togo-Benin): "Consonant-tone interaction in Saxwe"
The topic of Beavon-Ham’s presentation is of particular note. The phenomenon of downstepped low tones is unusual. In Saxwe, a Kwa language spoken in Benin, a low tone can be downstepped, but it is always due to the presence of voiced obstruents (speech sounds involving a constriction that impedes airflow through the nose or mouth). While lowering of tone register is common in African languages, this particular pattern is a surprising discovery.
- Prof. Enoch Aboh (University of Amsterdam)
- Prof. Vicki Carstens (University of Missouri)
- Prof. Samuel Gyasi Obeng (Indiana University)
- Prof. David Odden (Ohio State University)