NSLC 2019 CfP: Number in Nubian Languages

A number of relevant publications on Nubian number marking has been published over the last few decades. However, this field is still in its infancy. The current wide-spread interest in Nubian languages, both from scholars and native speakers, offers an opportunity to investigate these issues more closely.

We invite scholars, both native and non-native, to submit proposals for the Nubian panel to be held at the 14th Nilo-Saharan Linguistics Colloquium in Vienna (May 30–June 1, 2019), dealing with the category of grammatical number and its morphological, syntactic, and semantic aspects.

Number is often thought of as a grammatical means to distinguish simply between singular and plural. However, many other distinctions on a nominal level can be made, both as regards other forms of number marking such as dual or paucal, and the way number is manifested on the noun phrase and its component parts. Number also appears to be closely related to semantics. Mass nouns such as ‘salt’, ‘water’, ‘clay’ can differ in respect to number marking from count nouns like ‘house’ and ‘child’. Also semantically defined groups of nouns such as body part and kinship terms may select specific number markers. Some languages also have a specific associative number marker to express a group associated with an individual, e.g., ‘Ali and his people’.

In many languages number marking is not confined to nouns. It is also common on adjectives, pronouns (e.g. person, demonstrative, and interrogative pronouns), and verbs. Number on verbs may have two different realizations, agreement marking reflecting the number and person of the subject and verbal number. Verbal number (also known as pluractional) is realized by singular and plural stems or specific morphemes. It can reflect the number of intransitive subjects or transitive objects but also the number of events, e.g., do something once or several times or even at several places.

Questions to be addressed are, for instance: Is number marking obligatory on nouns? Is it regular and productive? Which number values are distinguished? How many different number markers are there on nouns? Do they differ from number markers on other word categories (e.g. adjectives, pronouns, numerals, demonstratives)? Is the selection of specific number markers semantically motivated? Is there number agreement between a noun and its modifiers? Does tonal contrast play a role in number marking? Are there singular and plural verb stems? How are they formed? What triggers the selection of these stems? What is the relation between verbal number and nominal number?

The first page must contain the title of the paper, author’s name, affiliation, postal address and email. The second page must be left anonymous, with only the title of the paper, 3 keywords, and the text of the abstract of no more than 500 words. Data must include interlinear glosses following the Leipzig Glossing Rules. The abstract should be single-spaced and in a Unicode font no smaller than 11 point, and in .pdf or .doc/.docx format.

The Nubian panel organizers will read the abstracts and will inform the authors whether their abstracts are accepted. The abstracts are due by September 30, 2018.

The proceedings of this panel will be edited and published by Dotawo: A Journal of Nubian Studies.

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei – vincent@vangervenoei.com
Angelika Jakobi – angelika.jakobi@uni-koeln.de


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