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Contribution de la Linguistique à l'Histoire de l'Afrique Sub-Saharienne

Thèmes et actions

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Webmaster de l'axe : Hadrien GELAS, Jean-Marie HOMBERT

  Specific aims : Specific aims
  Task 1 - Classification : Task 1: Towards a new classification of African languages
  Task 2 - Reconstruction : Task 2: Historical inferences of linguistic reconstructions
  Task 3 - Modelisation  : Task 3: Languages, populations and environmental constraints

Specific aims : Specific aims

    The first originality of this project is that it proposes to focus primarily on those languages which can be rightfully suspected to be isolates, according to a majority consensus among specialists (cf. list in Task 1). We thus intend to collect and collate all published and unpublished linguistic data on those language isolates, by consulting published sources, old and recent, and by contacting scholars having done first-hand research on them. We also intend to proceed ourselves with collecting first-hand material on some of those languages, in our areas of expertise (e.g. on the Irimba language, spoken by a group of Pygmies in Southern Gabon). Our project then, aims explicitly at achieving a new classification of African languages, which could supersede Greenberg's, now in use for the last 40 years.

     The second original aspect is the application of new methodologies to these corpora. For instance the method of virtual reconstructions (i.e. the reconstruction of the shape of the source item for lexical items putatively derived from a proto-language) can be a powerful tool for the identification of loan- words and the stratification of the lexical material found in the language(s) under examination - this, it must be said, applies first and foremost to Bantu languages and secondarily to other well- reconstructed groups, like East