University of Khartoum Faculty of Arts Department of LinguisticsBy, Ahmed Sosal A.December 2011
Typology is the study of types. More specifically, it may refer to: Typology (anthropology), division of culture by races Typology (archaeology), classification of things according to their characteristics Typology (theology), in Christian theology, the interpretation of some characters and stories in the Old Testament. Typology (urban planning and architecture), the taxonomic classification of characteristics common to buildings or urban spaces Linguistic typology, study and classification of languages according to their structural features Typology, in psychology, a model of personality types Typology (creation biology)
Linguistic typology is a subfield of linguistics that studies and classifies languages according to their structural features. Its aim is to describe and explain the common properties and the structural diversity of the worlds languages. It includes three sub-disciplines (Cysouw, M. 2005): Qualitative typology, which deals with the issue of comparing languages and within-language variance; Quantitative typology, which deals with the distribution of structural patterns in the world’s languages; and Theoretical typology, which explains these distributions.
Typology aim is to account for the structural diversity of languages by classifying them into a small number of types. In such classifications, each language taken as a whole was considered as belonging to a particular language types also. But modern research stresses that typology must begin with the type of construction instead of the tradition of the types languages, Because of the differences in the types of structures according to differences in domains.
There are set of morphosyntactic features which are going to central to our discussion because they are important for the typological classification of languages. All this is to give an overview of the structural diversity of African languages and to compare the structural diversity of African languages with that observed else where in the languages of the world.
Every natural language syntax consists of two major types of phrases: NPs and VPs. Clauses result from the combination of variable number of noun phrases with verb where the verb (the predicate) assigns semantic roles to some of the noun phrases with which it combines (the arguments). The syntactic relation between the verb and the nominal terms of a clause are universally originated according to a contrast ‘subject (S) / (direct) object (O) / obliques (X). The genitive can be universally characterized as a NP with the function of noun modifier.
Subject/object case marking typology Subject/object indexation typology Voice Subject/object indexation typology Most African languages have subject marker attached to the verb form, and a number of them have also object marker. Example in Tswana language (Bantu, Niger-Congo) illustrates a situation in which the object marker included in the verb form.Ki-χω –bi΄d-itsè ‘I called you’SM.1S-OM.2S-called-ANT (how is it possible that you did not hear me?)
Agreement morphemes: is the case in which subject and objectmarkers may be obligatory.In Swahili definite objects (including pronouns and propernouns) require an object marker, whereas indefinite objectsneed no object marker as attested in the following example:•u-me-leta chackula? ‘Have you brought (some) food?’SM.2S-ANT-bring CL7.food•u-me-ki-leta chackula? ‘Have you brought the food?’ SM.2S-ANT-OM.CL7-bring Cl7.food (which I told you to bring)
In a number of African languages subject marker differ fromthe corresponding object marker, at least in some persons.There are distinctions in the third person accoutered inlanguages in which identical distinctions are involved in theagreement between nouns and modifiers e.g. in Swati (Bantu,Niger-Congo)•in-dvodza len-dze i-yabaleka ‘The tall man is running away’CL9-man CL9-tal SM.CL9-run•um-fana lomu-dze u-yabaleka ‘The tall boy is runing away’CL1-boy CL1-tall SM.CL1-run
Passive can be assigned in relation to the following types: Mediopassive (middle) is a verb from that assign a ‘passive’ role to their subject. It referred to by terms such as neuter that do no identify it as a voice at all. e.g. in Tswana language: maí ̀ a-thub-eχ-ilè ́ ̀ ̀ ́̀ ‘the eggs broke’ cl6-.eggs sm.cl6-break-MEDAPASS True passive forms don’t imply the existence of an agent triggering and/or controlling the process. màí á-thùb-íl-w-è [kíŋwàná] CL6.egg SM.CL6-break-ANT-PAS-ANT by CL1.child ‘The egg were broken (by the child)’
Presence vs. absence of verbal inflection Types of verbal inflection Auxiliaries Serial verbs Complex verb form reanalysis and syntactic change Serial verbsThey are types of complex predicate consist of a sequence of two or more verbs with the following three prosperities: There is a single subject of the whole sequence. Each verb may have its own complement. The sequence as a whole has the behavior of a single predicate.An example of serial verb can be seen in Baule (Kwa, Niger-Congo) as follows ̀-à-fà í swǎ n à-klè mihe-ANT-take his house DEF ANT-show me‘He has shown me his house’This found in Kwa languages (e.g. Ewe) and Benu-Congo languages (e.g. Yoruba).
Nominal classification Definiteness and referentiality Number Case affixes and adpositions The genitival modifier The adjectival modifier Definiteness and referentiality Definite articles are quite common in African languages and they are either originated in demonstratives or in the third-person possessives. Indefinite articles originated in the numeral ‘one’ and attested in some African languages. Languages with and without definite articles are encountered virtually in all language families and in all parts of the African continent. Referential articles : there are some definite articles proper their use to include both definite demonstration and non-definite referential uses called by Greenberg (1978) ‘stage II of definite articles’. They are common in Africa for example in Mandinka (Mande, Niger-Congo): ì yè kúlúŋ-ò jè ‘they saw a/the boat’ they PERF boat-DEF see
In a number of African languages ‘stage II articles’ manifest themselves only through a change orat the end of the word they are attached to as shown in the following table:Language indefinite definite meaningSwati sitiba Síiba ‘well’Zulu sizeba i-síziba (< í-sizi a)Kita Maninka básá básàGambian Madinka básá básò(< básá-ò) ‘Lizard’
Definite Article are ‘phrasal affixes’ attached to the first or to the lastword of the noun phrase such as in Mandinka the definite form of‘woman’ is mùsó:̀ (<mùsú-ò), but ‘the/a one-eyed woman’ is mùsù nyá: -kílíŋ–ò, literally ‘woman eye-one-the’. Whereas in Arabic only definitearticle really affixed to nouns and with agreement in definitenessbetween noun and the adjectival modifiers as inal-baytu l-kabi:ru ‘The big house’The-house the-big
Variations affecting the function of a noun phrase in larger constructions in which they are included may bring into play three types of morphemes: Adpositions, Phrasal affixes, Bound morphemes.The distinction between adpositions and case affixes: In African languages case morpheme often has the status of phrasal affixes governed by degree of phonological interaction with the neighboring words. But this is not quite clear distinction. For example in Bambara ‘postpositions’ and Kanuri case suffixes shows no significant difference in their morphological properties: both are bound morphemes with the distribution characteristics of phrasal affixes and both exhibit some degree of phonological interaction with the last word of the noun phrase with which they combine.It has been observed that comitative prepositions or prefix occurs only in many African languages in which all the other case markers are postpositions or suffixes.
Typologists often divide languages into types according to so called basic word order, often understood as the order of subject (S), object (O) and verb (V) in a typical declarative sentence. The vast majority of the languages of the world fall into one of three groups: SOV (Japanese, Tamil, Turkish etc.) SVO (Fula, Chinese, English etc.) VSO (Arabic, Tongan, Welsh etc.)Logically speaking, there should be nothing wrong with the three other possibilities: VOS (Malagasy ‘Malayo-Polynesian language’), OVS (Western Nilotic Pari) and OSV. African languages do not differ from languages in other parts of the world in their basic word order. But at the level of clauses constituent order the diversity of the African continent differ from what has been observed at the world level as follows: The proportion of African languages with particularly rigid (not flexible) clause constituent order is relatively high. The proportion of African languages with basic VSO order is roughly comparable to that observed at the world level, but the proportion of languages with SVO is not.
They are attested in clauses expressing identification, existence, location or attribution of qualities with ATM value identical to that expressed in verbal predication by the verb tenses commonly labeled ‘indicative present’.Example involving juxtaposition of NPs or adposition phrases in Kanuri language bíntu féro ‘Bintu is a girl’ Bintu girl músa káno-lan ‘Musa is in Kano’ Musa Kano-LOCThese sometimes are analyzed as predicative words as irregular verbs, but labels such as ‘non-verbal predicative’ or ‘non-verbal copula’ in African languages descriptions. Such predicatives are particularly common in West African languages.
Bambara language (Mande, Niger-Congo) illustrates the type of relativisation strategy in which the relative clause is not embedded in the main clause. In the following example the relative marker miŋ is present within the relative clause , the location of miŋ signaling the relativised position. wùlú ′míŋ yé démísέŋ ′kíŋ, n y′ ó bòlit ́ ′yé dog REL PERF child bit I PERF this.one running see ‘I saw the dog the bit the child running away’ Embedded relatives treated as noun modifiers that precede the noun they modify found in Amharic language but this is very exceptional case in African language. The predominant relativisation strategy in which embedded relative are treated as noun modifiers that follow the noun they modify has been noted at the world level and particularly strong among African languages.