Universiteit Leiden

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Descriptive Linguistics

Africa

At LUCL we study almost all aspects of a wide range of African languages. From phonology to anthropological linguistics, from theoretical syntax to urban youth languages, we study it all.

Africa is a lively continent; young and dynamic and at same time the place of origin of mankind.

Language is the key to a deeper understanding of its people. Approximately one third of the world’s languages is spoken in Africa, displaying an enormous variation in language structures and usage patterns. In our group we have expertise on the languages of North-Africa, various languages of West-Africa, Ethiopia, and Tanzania, and the Bantu languages of southern Africa.

Diverse research topics

Topics we conduct research on include:

  • Sign language in West-Africa
  • Linguistic history of East-Africa,
  • Syntax and information structure of the Bantu languages
  • Cultural and cognitive categorisation of cattle colour terminology
  • Linguistic contact between African languages
  • Ethnolinguistic vitality and diversity

Besides our research activities, we also edit the Journal of African Languages and Linguistics, a leading journal in the field, and we organise the annual Conference on African Languages and Linguistics (CALL) on the last Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday of August. We supervise PhD theses, in particular those that are based on an in-depth study on an (aspect of an) African language using new data.

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