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Collaborative Research Centre 632 “Information Structure”

Predicate-centered focus types:
A sample-based typological study
in African languages

Project Phase II: 01.07.2011–30.06.2015


The present project is a continuation of the project B7 which started in September 2009. It investigates predicate-centered focus types from a typological perspective, sampling more than 20 diverse African languages. This sample will partly be extended in the present application phase. It is the only remai¬ning project with a typological approach in the SFB. Based on the results obtained so far, we will focus in the new phase on the following topics, for which not all the languages in our sample will be relevant:

Topic 1: Phase-1 continuation - Encoding of predicate-centered focus in affirmative main clauses

Our previous research will be continued and extended concerning the investigation of:

Topic 2: Predicate-centered focus in clause types other than affirmative main clauses (I. Fiedler)

We extend the questions developed in phase 1 for affirmative main clauses to other clause types especially relevant for predicate-centered focus, such as (i) negative main clauses, (ii) selected subordinate clauses, and (iii) yes-no interrogatives and alternative questions.

Topic 3: Synchronic variation and diachronic development of predicate-centered focus

We aim to deepen our investigation by researching its dynamics in terms of (i) possible influence of language contact (here among languages of eastern Mali, K. Prokhorov) and (ii) its stability and variation within a genealogical language group (here Bantu languages, Y. Morimoto).

An overarching goal of the 2nd phase is the development of a cross-linguistic data base on predicate-centered focus. This data base is designed to bring the data of the project and other sources into a unified format and annotation scheme, being searchable for different parameters and ensuring the sustainability of the data.

Project application final phase (English)(PDF)

Examined languages

Language family Language Word order Tone Morph. Type
1 Chadic Hausa SVO + synth.
2 Berber Tamashek VSO - synth.
3 Semitic Amharic SOV - synth.
4 Cushitic Somali SOV + synth.
5 Omotic Gimira~Bench SOV + synth.
6 Saharan Kanuri SOV + aggl./synth.
7 Moru-Madi Ma’di SVO/SAuxOV + aggl./synth.
8 Bongo-Bagirmi Mbay SVO + aggl./synth.
9 Kuliak Ik VSO + aggl./synth.
10 Nilotic-Surmic Maa VSO + synth.
11 Songhai Koyraboro Senni SVO/SAuxOV - isol./aggl.
12 Nyimang Ama SOV + aggl.
13 North Atlantic Wolof SVO - isol./aggl.
new 14 North Atlantic Fulfulde SVO - synth.
15 Mande Bambara SAuxOV Other + aggl.
new 16 Mande Bozo SAuxOV Other + isol.
17 Gur Supyire SVO + aggl.
18 Kwa Aja SVO + isol.
19 Benue-Kongo Emai SVO + aggl.
20 Benue-Kongo Makhuwa SVO + aggl.
new 21 Benue-Kongo Kikuyu SVO + aggl.
new 22 Benue-Kongo Matengo SVO + aggl.
new 23 Benue-Kongo Zulu or North Sotho SVO + aggl.
24 Dogon Mombo SOV + aggl.
new 25 Isolate Bangeri me SAuxOVOther + isol./aggl.
26 Ju-ǂHoan Juǀ’hoan SVO + isol.
27 Khoe-Kwadi Namib. Khoekhoe SOV + isol./aggl.
28 Isolate Sandawe SOV + isol./aggl.
new 29 Malayo-Polynesian Malagasy VOS - aggl./synth

Note: Bold = languages with planned detailed discourse analysis