The Phonology and Morphology of Bade and Ngizim

The materials on this webpage represent the proseminar led by Professor Russell G. Schuh. The proseminar focused on the phonology and morphology of a group of closely related Chadic languages of the West Chadic “B” branch, the Bade-Ngizim languages of Yobe State in northeastern Nigeria. There are three existing languages in this group: Bade, Ngizim, and Duwai. Bade, in turn, is dialectally diverse, to the point where one might argue that there are at least two Bade languages, each with its dialects. Prof. Schuh’s dissertation research in 1969-70 was on Ngizim, he lived two years in the Bade-speaking area in the mid-1970’s, and worked for shorter periods on these languages at other times. Prof. Schuh’s dissertation was a syntax of Ngizim, and he wrote a number of published and unpublished papers on these languages, as well as one book, a dictionary of Ngizim, but most of the information remained in card files, notebooks, folders full of loose sheets of paper, and reel-to-reel tape recordings.

These languages have a number of phonological and morphological properties of general interest, rendered more interesting by differences between the languages. Stimulated by recent work on Bole, a Chadic language in the same general vicinity as Bade-Ngizim though not closely related, Prof. Schuh began looking at Bade-Ngizim again after an almost two-decade hiatus. One concrete step Prof. Schuh took was to create Filemaker databases of two dialects of Bade and of Duwai from lexical card files that have languished in drawers all these years. These databases have made it possible to work out patterns in minutes that would have previously taken days of tedium. Another motive for conducting the proseminar was that NSF approved funding for a three-year grant that took Prof. Schuh back to Nigeria for work on these languages. Discussion in the proseminar rose questions that Prof. Schuh was able to explore during my grant period.

The topics covered are below.

Students taking the course for four units credit wrote a paper related to one or more of the topics covered.

Course outline


Chadic family overview and place of Bade-Ngizim

Handout 01: The Place of Bade and Ngizim in the Chadic Family

Phonological overview: phonological inventories and general distribution

Handout 02: Overview of Bade and Ngizim Phonology

Syllable structure and the position of shwa

Handout 03: Bade and Ngizim Syllable Structure

(This handout refers to two data tables that are not in the handout. They are in the paper “Bade/Ngizim vowels and syllable structure,” Studies in African Linguistics 9:247-283, 1978.)

Some sound changes (systematic processes of dissimilation, assimilation, metathesis)

Changes in Obstruent Voicing in Bade and Ngizim

Tones and tone rules, esp. the effects of consonant types on tone and morphologically conditioned tone rules

Handout 04: Bade and Ngizim Tones: tone system, tone rules, morphologically conditioned tones

“Vowel and tone coalescence in Western Bade”

(The second paper is a write-up of a detailed study of the tonal outcome when vowels and the tones they bear coalesce to form one syllable.)

Nominal gender and morphology: lexical gender, overt gender marking, loss of gender, development of “Stage II” articles, determiner systems

Handout 05: Gender and Determiners

(This handout as distributed includes pages 17-18 of Schuh (1977), presenting data from definite forms in several subdialects of Western Bade.)

Verb classes and verbal nouns–segmental determinants of verb form, particularly tone, in verb TAM forms and verbal nouns

Handout 06: Verb Classes and Verbal Nouns

Reduplication processes

Handout 07: Verbal Pluractional Reduplication in Western Bade

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