Committee: John Singler (Chair), Renée Blake, Chris Collins, John Costello, Adamantios Gafos, Gregory Guy, and Eyamba Bokamba (University of Illinois)
This dissertation is concerned with contact phenomena between two languages of distinct branches of Niger-Congo in Togo, Kabiye and Ewe. My investigation seeks to determine the social and linguistic factors (e.g. prestige, pressure, wider communication) that constrain language choice and language usage in the Kabiye community. My research shows that Ewe, by virtue of its location in the comparatively wealthier and more urban south, has acquired a de facto dominant status as a lingua franca across Togo’s ethnolinguistic communities. Kabiye speakers display widespread borrowing of Ewe words and code-switching. They may switch between Kabiye and Ewe according to the social circumstances of their discourse. In contrast, Ewe speakers are unlikely to know or use Kabiye.
Although Kabiye is a Gur language and Ewe is Kwa, the two languages display very similar grammars, particularly in such areas as word order. In areas of the syntax where the two languages are dissimilar, e.g., focus constructions and serial verb constructions, code-switching occurs rarely or not at all. There is little insertion of Ewe adjectives in Kabiye due to the limited use of adjectives generally in Ewe, and dissimilarities in the syntactic requirements for adjectives in both languages; Kabiye adjectives must display noun class concord, while Ewe does not have noun class concord at all. Overall, I find no discernable Ewe influence on Kabiye syntax. This finding is in contrast to the code-switching cases that involve a Western language and an African language (cf. Kamwangamalu (1987, 1989), Bokamba (1987, 1988), Forson (1979)). Thus, unlike contact between a Western language and an African language, in this contact between two African languages there is little if any influence of the embedded language on the syntax of the matrix language. Possible explanations for this may lie in the difference in the way the speaker’s second language is acquired, i.e. between formal and naturalistic. Another possibility may involve the overall syntactic congruence between the two languages.
This study builds on fieldwork and sociolinguistic interviews carried out in Lome (where code-switching is common in practically all conversations), in the major Kabiye city Kara, and in a Kabiye village.
Papers and Presentations
- Essizewa, E. Komlan and Chris Collins. 2007. Verb Focus in Kabiye. In Selected Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference on African Linguistics, ed. Doris L. Payne and Jaime Pe–a, Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project, pp. 191-203.
- Essizewa, E. Komlan. 2007. Language Contact Phenomena in Togo: Case Study of Kabiye-Ewe Code-switching. In Selected Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference on African Linguistics, ed. Doris L. Payne and Jaime Pe–a, Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project, pp. 30-42.
- Essizewa, E. Komlan. 2006. Sociolinguistic survey of language contact in Togo: A case study of Kabiye and Ewe. In Journal of West African Linguistics (JWAL), ed. Keir L. Hansford. Vol 33.1, pp. 35-51
- Essizewa, E. Komlan. 2006. Language Contact Phenomena in Togo: Case Study of Kabiye-Ewe Code-switching. Paper presented at the Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL), April 6-9, 2006. University of Oregon, Eugene.
- Collins, Christopher and Komlan Essizewa. 2006. Verb Focus in Kabiye. Paper presented at the Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL), April 6-9, 2006. University of Oregon, Eugene.
- A Sociolinguistic Survey of Language Contact in Togo: A Case Study of Kabiye and Ewe. Paper presented at the 35th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL), Harvard University.
- Aspects of Kabiye Tonal Phonology and Implications for the Correspondence Theory of Faithfulness. Proceedings of the Eleventh Student. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, 2003. Vol. 45, pp. 35-47.
- Sociolinguistic Aspects of Language Contact in Togo: A Case Study of Kabiye, Ewe and French (2002 Dissertation Proposal)
- Forms of Address in Kabiye: A Case Study of Borrowing Kinship Terms of Address (2001 qualifying paper 2)
- Aspects of Kabiye Tonal Phonology (QP 1).
- Forms of Address in Kabiye : A Case Study Borrowing of Kinship Terms of Address. Annual Conference African on Linguistics (ACAL), University of Boston, March 2-5, 2000
- Aspects of Kabiye Tonal Phonology and Implications for the Correspondence Theory of Faithfulness. Student Conference in Linguistics (SCIL 11), University of Texas, at Austin, May 8-9, 1999