Project B2

2nd Phase - Information structuring in Chadic Languages

After the first funding phase, the following research desiderata arose with regard to the Chadian languages:

  • Subject prominence: An explanation of the finding that marking the focused subject is always mandatory. The inversion of focused subjects, which can also be observed in genetically unrelated languages, is of particular interest.
  • Domain Restriction: A fundamental analysis of the restriction of grammatical focus marking to nominal constituents.
  • Information-structural category “Topic”: The investigation of the topic marking and the importance that the topic has in the information structure of the Chadian languages.
  • Areas and typological expansion: expansion of the database to include other Central Chadian languages ​​that have so far hardly been examined in the literature.

1st Phase - Focus in Chadic languages

This project looks at focus phenomena (wh-questions, the distinction into focus and background, presentational and contrastive focus etc.) in Hausa and other Chadic languages. As tonal languages, the Chadic languages form an interesting subject for research into focus because a commonly used means for marking focus in indogermanic languages, namely intonational/ tonal marking, is not available in the same degree due to potential conflicts with lexical tone. As a result, Chadic languages often resort to alternative means for marking focus. Special attention will be paid to the following questions:

  • Does Hausa exhibit - apart from an ex situ strategy - also an in situ strategy (possibly realized through intonation)?
  • What kind of strategies for focus marking are there in other, less well researched Chadic languages?
  • What governs the association of focus-sensitive elements with focus?
  • Is there a relation between the information structure of a clause and its quantificational structure?
  • Do the available data allow for the deduction of typological differences between tonal and accent languages concerning the realization of focus?

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Principal Investigators

  • PD Dr. Katharina Hartmann

Former Staff Members

  • Dr. Andreas Haida
  • Peggy Jacob


February 2006 Poster Hartmann, K. & Zimmermann, M.: DifferentPerspectives on Focus in Hausa. Conference. Tübingen:Linguistic Evidence, Eberhard-Karls-Universität.
January 2006 Invited Talk Zimmermann, M.: Syntactic Aspects of Hausa (in light of certain recenttheoretical developments). Colloquium. Potsdam: Syntax colloquium of the Institut für Linguistik,Universität Potsdam.
January 2006 Invited Talk Jacob, P.: Information Structure in Tar B'arma (Bagirmi). Colloquium. Berlin: Linguistic colloquium of the Department of AfricanStudies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
October 2005 Poster Zimmermann, M.: Focus Marking in Western Chadic: Implications for aCross-Linguistic Theory of Focus. Conference. Amherst, Massachussetts: 6th meeting of the North EasternLinguistic Society (NELS).
October 2005 Lecture Zimmermann, M.: Adverbial Quantification and Focus in Hausa. Conference. Berlin: Sinn und Bedeutung 10 (the Tenth Annual Meeting ofthe Gesellschaft für Semantik), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
October 2005 Lecture Hartmann, K. & Zimmermann, M.: Morphological Focus Marking in Guruntum(Western Chadic). Conference. Berlin: Focus in African Languages.
October 2005 Lecture Jacob, P.: Information Structure in Tar B'arma (Bagirmi). Conference. Berlin: Focus in African Languages.
October 2005 Invited Talk Hartmann, K. & Zimmermann, M.: Morphological Focus Marking in Guruntum(Western Chadic). Colloquium. Berlin: Linguistic Colloquium of the Department of AfricanStudies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
June 2005 Lecture Hartmann, K.: Focus and Emphasis in Chadic Languages. Conference. Leipzig: Concluding conference of the DFG research group"Sprachtheoretische Grundlagen der Kognitionswissenschaft".
March 2005 Lecture Hartmann, K. & Zimmermann, M.: Focus in Accent and Tone languages. Conference. Nigeria: Joint linguistic colloquium of the Department ofLanguages and Literature and the Department of Englisch, University ofMaiduguri.
December 2004 Lecture Zimmermann, M. & Hartmann, K.: Exhaustivity Marking in Hausa: ARe-Evaluation of the Particle nee/cee. Workshop. Amsterdam: Topic and Focus: Information Structure and Grammarin African Languages, Universiteit van Amsterdam.
October 2004 Lecture Zimmermann, M.: Strategies of Quantification in Hausa (Chadic). Lecture course. Berlin: Semantikzirkel, ZAS.
Winter 2005 Seminar Hartmann, K. & Zimmermann, M.: Fokus. Lecture course. Berlin: Hauptseminar gehalten am Institut fürGermanistik, Humboldt-Universität.
July 2004 Lecture Zimmermann, M.: Or What? Quantificational Phenomena in Hausa (Chadic). Conference. University of York: Strategies of Quantification Conference.
May 2004 Lecture Hartmann, K. & Zimmermann, M.: Ex-Situ- and In-Situ-Fokus im Hausa. Colloquium. Nikolassee, Berlin: SFB-Kolloquium.
April 2004 Lecture Hartmann, K. & Zimmermann, M.: Verbal Focus in the Chadic Languages. Conference. University of Chicago: Chicago Linguistics Society.
November 2003 Lecture Zimmermann, M.: Discourse Particles in the Left Periphery. Workshop. ZAS, Berlin: Dislocated Elements in Discourse: Syntactic,Semantic, and Pragmatic Perspectives.