WORKSHOP: Areal phenomena in northern sub-Saharan Africa

CONFERENCE: 8th World Congress of African Linguistics, Kyoto University,
August 21-24, 2015 (
ORGANIZERS: Dmitry Idiatov (LLACAN-CNRS, Paris), Mark Van de Velde (LLACAN-CNRS, Paris)
CONTACT: idiatov [at] vjf [dot] cnrs [dot] fr

Languages spoken within a large belt of northern sub-Saharan Africa from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Ethiopian plateau in the east have long been known to share important structural similarities (cf. Westermann 1911, Greenberg 1959). The relevant linguistic features crisscross genetic borders and are not found in the genetically related languages outside of this region, which suggests an important role of language contact in the evolution of the currently observed pattern. The two recent areality hypotheses involving the languages of northern sub-Saharan Africa, Güldemann's (2008) Macro-Sudan belt and Clements & Rialland's (2008) Sudanic belt, focus on a number of structural features that have been proposed in the literature to be particularly representative of the languages spoken in the region, such as labial-velar stops, labial flaps, implosives and other "nonobstruent" stops, nasal vowels and lack of contrastive nasal consonants, ATR vowel harmony, tone, "lax" polar question markers, logophoricity markers, S-(Aux)-O-V-X and V-O-Neg order patterns.

The proposed workshop aims to expand our understanding of the areal phenomena in the languages of northern Sub-Saharan Africa. Submissions are expected to critically reassess the criteria already proposed in the literature or propose new criteria. Studies covering large parts of the region with languages of different genetic origins are particularly welcome. We also invite studies focusing on smaller zones within the bounds of the region which contribute to the big picture of language contact phenomena in the region. We would particularly encourage papers that not only provide a thorough synchronic description of a certain linguistic property whose distribution is argued to be areal, but that equally aim at working out plausible diachronic mechanisms which could account for the observed geographic and genetic distribution of such a linguistic property.


Deadline for abstract submission: October 31, 2014 Notification of acceptance: December 1, 2014

Following the general GUIDELINES established FOR THE SUBMISSION OF ABSTRACTS for WOCAL8, a submission should consist of two pages. The first page must contain the title of the paper, author's name, affiliation, postal address and email. The second page must be left anonymous, with only the title of the paper, 3 keywords, and the text of the abstract of no more than 500 words. Please use only Unicode compliant fonts.
Submissions should be sent as a Word file to idiatov [at] vjf [dot] cnrs [dot] fr.