Workshop: The syntax at the vP edge in African languages

We are happy to announce the workshop "The syntax at the vP edge in African languages" as the third installment of the series "The syntax and semantics of African languages (SASAL III). The workshop will take place hybrid. Part of the talks will be at the conference venue at the Campus Westend of the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, other talks will take place over Zoom.

Register now for the workshop!


Recent years have seen a heightened interest in research into previously undocumented and understudied languages, particularly on the African continent. The SASAL (Syntax and Semantics of African Languages) workshop series is intended to continue this line of research and to provide a forum for linguists working on these languages to exchange ideas and theoretical approaches to a wide range of phenomena.

As part of our DFG-funded project “The VP-periphery in Mabia languages”, we are happy to announce the third installment in this workshop series, SASAL III, which will focus on the syntactic processes taking place at the vP edge. For example, it has become clear that information-structural notions like focus do not only impact movement to the clausal left periphery (see Amaechi 20201 for Igbo (Volta-Niger), Issah 20202 for Dagbani (Mabia), a.o.) but that they also play a role for the vP edge, in triggering the (sometimes obligatory) presence of certain particles. Take, for example, the sentence pair in (1) from Gurene (Mabia), where the post-verbal particle 'la' is obligatory in cases of in-situ focus, including cases of in-situ wh-questions.

(1)   a.   Adam   korege-ri   *(la)   beni?
Adam   slaughter-IPFV   LA   what
'What is Adam slaughtering?’
b.   Adam   korege-ri   *(la)   nua.
Adam   slaughter-IPFV   LA   fowl
'Adam is slaughtering fowl.'

In addition to information-structural marking, the area around the vP edge, i.e. the position immediately above and below it, is of course the area of the clause where most of the tense, aspect, mood (TAM), and negation marking takes place, as well as the encoding of the conjoint/disjoint alternation (for Bantu cf. van der Wal & Hyman 20173). Frequently, all these processes interact with each other, very often in non-trivial ways. But possible interactions are not limited to these elements, as it has been argued that even A'-movement out of the vP phase can have an observable impact.

Invited speakers

Samuel Atintono (Accra College of Education)

Doreen Georgi (University of Potsdam)

Samuel Issah (University of Education Winneba)

Maria Kouneli (Leipzig University)


June 29th

09:00-09:40Introduction and project report
Katharina Hartmann, Anke Himmelreich & Johannes Mursell
(Goethe University Frankfurt)
(in person)
09:40-10:40 The syntax of coordinated pronouns in Dagbani focus constructions
Samuel Issah (INVITED)
(University of Education Winneba)
(in person)
10:40-11:10 Coffee Break
11:10-11:50 Long distance movement in Turkana
Leonie Barabas-Weil
(Leipzig University)
(in person)
11:50-12:50 That-trace effects in Igbo
Doreen Georgi (INVITED)
(University of Potsdam)
(in person)
12:50-14:30 Lunch
14:30-15:10 Focus sensitivity and the Antisymmetry theory of syntax in Kusaal
Daniel Aremu
(Goethe University Frankfurt)
(in person)
15:10-15:50 Contrastive focus and low verb doubling in Dzə
Philip Duncan, Peace Benson & John Gluckman
(University of Kansas)
15:50-16:20 Coffee Break
16:20-17:00 Relativization in Lobi
Shweta Akolkar, Rebecca Jarvis & Sansan Claude Hien
(UC Berkeley)
17:00-17:40 Unexpected consequences of v as a secondary Case-licenser in Lobi
Shweta Akolkar, Sansan Claude Hien & Kang Franco Liu
(UC Berkeley)
19:00- Conference dinner at Dauth-Schneider

June 30th

09:30-10:10Unifying focus constructions in Grassfields Bantu
Gratiana Linyor Ndamsah & Paul Roger Bassong
(University of Yaounde 1)
10:10-10:50 Movement in Dholuo: A Phase-Based Account
Qiuhao Charles Yan
(Queen Mary University)
10:50-11:20 Coffee Break
11:20-12:00 On the syntax of tense and aspect in Likpakpaanl
Samuel Acheampong
(Goethe University Frankfurt)
(in person)
12:00-13:30 Lunch
13:30-14:30 Aspectual marking in Gurene: A case of morphology-syntax interaction
Samuel Atintono (INVITED)
(Accra College of Education)
(in person)
14:30-15:30 Movement within vP: the case of possessor raising in Kipsigis
Maria Kouneli (INVITED)
(Leipzig University)
(in person)

Registration and venue

Workshop in PEG 1.G135 (marked in red)
Workshop in PEG 1.G135 (marked in red)

The workshop takes place at the Goethe University Frankfurt, Campus Westend, PEG building 1.G135. The campus can be reached by walking, biking, car or public transport (we recommend to download the RMV App to check for connections).

If you would like to attend the workshop in person or over Zoom, we kindly ask you to register. Only registered people will receive the link for the Zoom meetings.

To register, please use this form: Go to online registration


Katharina Hartmann

Anke Himmelreich

Johannes Mursell


  • 1. Amaechi, Mary Chimaobi (2020): A′-movement dependencies and their reflexes in Igbo. Ph. D. thesis. University of Potsdam: https://d-nb.info/1219579173/34 
  • 2. Issah, Samuel Alhassan (2020): On the structure of A-bar constructions in Dagbani: Perspectives of "wh"-questions and fragment answers.Berlin: Peter Lang 
  • 3. Van der Wal, Jenneke and Hyman, Larry M. (2017): The conjoint/disjoint alternation in Bantu. Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs [TiLSM], 301. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton 

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Page last modified on Thursday June 1, 2023 09:45:05 CEST by admin.