LING7014 Language Structure in Context

Dr. Kofi Yakpo

MA Elective course. Sem 1
Thursday, 9:30 am – 12:20 pm
Venue: RRST-4.04

Course Description

This course introduces students to a specific language or group of languages on which the teacher concerned has conducted linguistic field work, laboratory or theoretical research. Topics cover the main areas of grammar and phonology of the language chosen for the course. The study of linguistic structure may be complemented with aspects of comparative linguistics, areal typology, language contact, socio-cultural, historical and geographical context. Course work may also cover aspects of the collection, analysis and interpretation of qualitative and quantitative linguistic data on a language. The course therefore provides a unique opportunity for students to apply and expand linguistic knowledge acquired during undergraduate studies and the current Masters programme in a holistic way.

Topic of the course (2021/22): The English Creole languages of Africa and the Americas

The family of Afro-Caribbean English Creole languages (AECs) emerged in Africa and the Americas in the 17th century through contact between English and African languages. Mutually intelligible varieties of the AECs are today spoken in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and West Africa by more than 130 million people. Based on population projections, speaker numbers will probably exceed half a billion by 2100 and the AECs are likely to figure among the world’s top languages next to Chinese, English, French, Arabic, or Hindi.

In this course, we take an in-depth look at the structure of a number of AECs, among them Pichi (Equatorial Guinea), Sranan (Suriname), and Jamaican Creole (Jamaica) on the backdrop of their social history. These languages shares numerous characteristics with each other but have also diverged considerably in the past few hundred years. We focus on aspects of the grammar of the AECs that challenge widespread ideas on the supposed simplicity of creole languages. This includes complex morphology and syntax, tone systems, and rich tense aspect and mood systems. We look at the genealogy of the AECs and the concept of creolization through comparison with English, African language,s and other AECs. We also examine the areal-typological and historical context of their emergence, and look at the socio-political dynamics of their evolution today, including their use as official languages and languages of education.

The course will consist in lectures, exercises, discussions, and readings. We will work with first-hand data collected during many years of field research, and analyse data from public data banks like the Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Language Structures (APiCs), the World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS) and NaijaSynCor.

Course Details


100% Coursework


Course Timeslots (1)