Tid: Torsdagen 8 december kl. 15.00 - 17.00
Plats: C307

Postseminarium äger rum direkt efter seminariet i institutionens pentry.


This talk is concerned with the marking of diminutives in the Bantu languages and in Selee (Kwa). The data on Bantu come from a sample of 23 languages selected among the different subgroupings of the genus; grammars and language experts were the primary sources of information. The data on Selee were collected during a fieldtrip conducted in February 2011. After having being transcribed, the data were annotated and translated in English.
During the talk we will focus on the major structural and behavioral properties of diminutives in Bantu and Selee by looking at their contexts of use.
In the majority of the Bantu languages sampled for this study, diminutives are noun class markers. However, in a number of South-Eastern Bantu languages, diminutive suffixes have more recently grammaticalized from the word for ‘child’ and coexist with or replace the older class markers.
Parallel to this scenario, in Selee, the most productive strategy for the encoding of diminutives is the suffix –bi, which, once more, originates from the word for ‘child’. Interestingly, the noun class prefix ka-, whose semantics is not exactly restricted to a specific domain, is sometimes used in Selee to classify inherently small entities (i.e. insects). Compared to the suffix –bi, ka- does not seem to be productive as a diminutive marker any longer.
Thus, prefixal and suffixal strategies are used both in Selee and in the Bantu languages to encode diminutives. The two strategies seem to be the result of comparable diachronic developments but they are not equally productive in both contexts (diminutive class markers are indeed very prolific in many Bantu languages while this is not the case of  ka- in Selee). In the last part of the talk, we will look at the two systems comparatively in order to account for such similarities and differences.