Bantu languages subject of next linguistics and applied linguistics lecture

Myles Leitch, who teaches in York’s Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics, will discuss various aspects of Bantu languages as part of the department’s Lecture Series in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics.

Leitch’s lecture, "The ‘Split’ Rainforest Bantu Hypothesis: Correlating Bantu Migration History with Vowel Harmony Patterns in Guthrie Zone C”, will take place Thursday, April 30 at 5pm in S562 Ross Building, Keele campus.

Bantu-speaking communities for the most part live in Africa, south of Nigeria, across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Kenya, to southern Somalia in the east. It is estimated that some 240 million Africans – nearly a third of the African population – have a Bantu language as their first language, and that there are over 400 different Bantu languages. The different areas of Africa where Bantu languages are spoken are divided into zones.

Leitch’s paper grew out of research originally presented at the Bantu Historical Colloquium held in Lyon in 1997. As such, it is embedded in a larger research initiative best captured in Larry Hyman’s 1999 analysis of the areal and historical characteristics of Bantu vowel harmony overall.

“The current study is more concerned with just the languages of the central Bantu Zone C in [Malcolm] Guthrie’s 1967 classification,” says Leitch. “I will show that, based on the vowel harmony patterning evidence, Guthrie’s Bantu C can be seen as two distinct groups.”

The first is a northern band of languages, while the second is a southern block with dramatically distinct properties.

This talk will be of interest to African language and linguistics scholars, phonologists, Bantuists and historians concerned with Central Africa and Bantu migration scenarios. A small reception in the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics lounge will follow the presentation. All are welcome.

For more information, visit the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics Events page.