Lutz Marten

Lutz Marten
SOAS, University of London | SOAS · Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa and Department of Linguistics

About

75
Publications
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705
Citations
Citations since 2017
8 Research Items
311 Citations
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Introduction
I am interested in human language: how language is structured and used, how languages differ and change over time, and how language is linked to culture, society, history, identity, and other domains of human life. So my research is in descriptive, comparative and theoretical linguistics. My work has a geographical focus on African languages, in particular Bantu languages of Eastern, Central, and Southern Africa and I have worked with communities and colleagues in the region for many years.

Publications

Publications (75)
Chapter
This chapter examines apparent competing functions of applicatives, prepositions and locative-marked phrases in a number of Bantu languages, focussing on the interaction of these types of categories in various applicative constructions. We show that in a number of Bantu languages, prepositional constructions compete with applicatives. The interacti...
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There is a high degree of morphosyntactic microvariation with respect to the number and position of object markers found across Bantu languages. This paper examines variation in object marking in Swahili, against the backdrop of variation in object marking in Bantu more broadly. Verb forms in Standard Swahili are well-known to typically only permit...
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Ikisiri Katika makala hii tumewasilisha matokeo ya utafiti wetu kuhusu lugha 19 za Kibantu za Afrika Mashariki. Tumeonesha kwamba kuna makundi makuu matatu ambayo yanafanana kiasi cha asilimia 70 au zaidi. Makundi haya yanajikuta katika maeneo mbalimbali ya eneo la utafiti wetu. Kuna kundi la kaskazini, la kati, na la kusini. Tumetumia mbinu maalum...
Article
The Bantu language Rangi is spoken at the northern borderlands of Tanzania, where Bantu, Cushitic and Nilotic languages meet. In many regards, Rangi exhibits the morphosyntax typically associated with East African Bantu: SVO word order, an extensive system of agreement and predominantly head-marking morphology. However, the language also exhibits a...
Chapter
This chapter provides an overview of variation in Bantu non-verbal predication and copula constructions. These constructions exhibit a wide range of fine-grained micro-variation against a backdrop of broad typological similarity across the Bantu family. Variation is seen in the function of copulas, in their morphosyntactic properties, and with resp...
Article
Bantu applicatives are standardly analysed syntactically, as encoding a change in valency. However, in many cases applicatives do not change valency, but are rather related to a change in interpretation. In particular pragmatic functions of applicatives related to focus and emphasis are often noted in the description of individual languages, but ar...
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The Tanzanian ethnic community language Kagulu is in extended language contact with the national language Swahili and other neighbouring community languages. The effects of contact are seen in vocabulary and structure, leading to a high degree of linguistic variation and to the development of distinct varieties of ‘pure’ and ‘mixed’ Kagulu. A compr...
Chapter
Chapter Summary Many Bantu languages have a system of complex verbal constructions, where several verbal forms combine to describe a single event. Typically, these consist of an auxiliary and a main verb, and often tense-aspect marking and subject agreement is found on both forms. In this paper we develop a parsing-based, Dynamic Syntax analysis of...
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Bantu inversion constructions include locative inversion, patient inversion (also called subject–object reversal), semantic locative inversion and instrument inversion. The constructions show a high level of cross-linguistic variation, but also a core of invariant shared morphosyntactic and information structural properties. These include: that the...
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Lutz Marten’s part of this research has benefitted from a British Academy UK-Africa Academic Partnership Scheme grant for ‘Language and Linguistic Studies of Southern African Languages’, and Jenneke van der Wal’s part is funded by the European Research Council Advanced Grant No. 269752 ‘Rethinking Comparative Syntax’, both of which are hereby grate...
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Benefactive applicative constructions can encode a range of different meanings, including notably recipient, substitutive and plain benefactive readings, which are often distinguished in cross-linguistic studies. In Bantu languages, this distinction has not received much attention, in part because most Bantu languages do not formally distinguish be...
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Swahili has two existential constructions, one formed with a possessive copula and a locative subject marker (locative-possessive constructions), the other formed with a locative copula and a non-locative subject marker agreeing with the theme argument (locative-copula constructions). Both constructions can be used to express existence in a place o...
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The paper presents a detailed discussion of morphosyntactic variation in object marking in Bantu. Building on previous work (Marten et al., 2007), the paper investigates variation in object marking in 16 Bantu languages with respect to six parameters: the co-occurrence of object markers and lexical objects, the obligatoriness of object markers with...
Article
This paper examines the status of locative phrases in Bantu and the argument-adjunct distinction. We look at verbal locative agreement and at other morphosyntactic patterns related to locative phrases in different Bantu languages including Kiswahili, Sambaa, Haya, and several Nguni languages. We propose that object marking cannot be taken to be evi...
Article
Otjiherero has a system of tonal nominal infection, or 'tone cases', through which nouns in different syntactic contexts are distinguished, including the so-called 'complement' and 'default' cases. Complement case marked nouns are found only when immediately following the verb, and only in a subset of tense-aspects, and the set of nouns which can t...
Chapter
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The central claim of Dynamic Syntax is that the structure of natural languages reflects the way hearers use natural language to construct representations of content. The DS model aims to show how information provided by words is used incrementally to build increasingly complex semantic representations, a process modelled as tree growth. Due to this...
Article
The analysis presented in this paper provides a development of the idea that subject agreement markers in Bantu can be analysed as pronouns. With reference to Swahili and Herero, it is shown that the interpretation of subject markers is dependent on the context in which they are found and that it is, similar to ordinary pronouns, constrained by loc...
Article
The article reports results of a study of beginner-level learners of Zulu in higher education in the UK, focussing on learners’ linguistic background, their motivation and reasons for studying Zulu, and their self-assessed progress at the beginning of the second term of teaching. The study shows that participants typically studied Zulu as an additi...
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This paper focuses on nominal classification in Bantu, Romance and Chinese. The relation between numeral classifiers, noun classes and grammati-cal gender has often been noted in the typological literature (e.g. Craig 1986, Senft 2000), based, on the one hand, on the (perceived) comparable semantic parameters involved in the classification underlyi...
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Bemba employs two passive constructions: an older one with verbal extension -w- and a more recent construction involving the clas s 2 subject marker ba -. We argue that ba- is ambiguous between an ordinary, referential class 2 marker, and an underspecified passive marke r, and is disambiguated by the overt encoding of a class 2 subject, or an o bli...
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In addition to practical, pragmatic functions, both money and language fulfil symbolic functions. The designation, design and language use of currencies, like choices about language policies and national languages carry symbolic weight and reflect different conceptions of national identity. In independent Africa, different approaches to language po...
Chapter
Bantu languages, such as Nsenga, Swahili, and Tumbuka, exhibit word-order variation associated with specific discourse-pragmatic contexts, such as topicalizing or focusing, both at the left and at the right periphery while expressing the same semantic or truth-conditional content. By employing the formal architecture of Dynamic Syntax (Cann et al....
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16.1 Introduction This chapter aims to give the reader an idea about the linguistic situation in Zambia, and how language relates to national identity in the Zambian context. Zambia lies in the heart of central Africa and shares borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the north, with Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique in the east,...
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Abstract The paper explores parallelisms between Bantu (specifically Otjiherero) and Romance (through Latin and Spanish) with respect to left and right peripheries, and subject and object clitics. The analysis is formulated in Dynamic Syntax (DS, Cann et al. 2005) and centrally involves notions of structural underspecifi- cation. Through providing...
Article
Bantu languages are fairly uniform in terms of broad typological parameters. However, they have been noted to display a high degree of more fine-grained morphosyntactic micro-variation. In this paper we develop a systematic approach to the study of morphosyntactic variation in Bantu by developing nineteen parameters which serve as the basis for cro...
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The collection of papers in this volume presents results of a collaborative project between the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, the Zentrum für allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Typologie und Universalienforschung (ZAS) in Berlin, and the University of Leiden. All three institutions have a strong interest in the linguistics of...
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For the whole of the last half-century, most theoretical syntacticians have assumed that knowledge of language is different from the tasks of speaking and understanding. There have been some dissenters, but, by and large, this view still holds sway. This book takes a different view: it continues the task set in hand by Kempson et al (2001) of argui...
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This paper discusses locative inversion constructions in Otjiherero against the background of previous work by Bresnan and Kanerva (1989) on the construction in Chichewa, and Demuth and Mmusi (1997) on Setswana and related languages. Locative inversion in Otjiherero is structurally similar to locative inversion in Chichewa and Setswana, but differs...
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Argues that knowledge in language consists of being able to use it in speaking and understanding. This work analyses a variety of languages, from English to Japanese and Swahili. It is intended for those in the disciplines of language, linguistics, anthropology, education, psychology, cognitive science, law, media studies, and medicine.
Article
The collection of papers in this volume presents results of a collaborative project between the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, the Zentrum für allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Typologie und Universalienforschung (ZAS) in Berlin, and the University of Leiden. All three institutions have a strong interest in the linguistics of...
Article
Partial agreement between verbs and conjoined noun phrases in languages like Swahili is only possible if the conjoined noun phrase (NP) follows the verb, that is, it is directly related to word order. This paper presents an analysis of partial agreement within Dynamic Syntax, a formal model of interpretation which models syntax as the building of s...
Article
This paper proposes an account of Right Node Raising (RNR) within the framework of Dynamic Syntax (DS). The problematic properties of this construction are shown to emerge naturally from a theory that defines natural language syntax as the direct reflection of how Logical Forms are built up in time as the words of a string are processed. Within thi...
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JOUNI FILIP MAHO and BONNY SANDS (eds.): The Languages of Tanzania: A Bibliography, (Orientalia et Africana Gothoburgensia 17.) iv, 428 pp. Gothenburg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 2002. SEK 300. - - Volume 67 Issue 3 - L. MARTEN
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Full-text available
1. Introduction Licensing constraints play an important role in the characterisation of phonological inventories within Government Phonology. They regulate the combinatory possibility of phonological elements available in a given language and thus derive language specific subsets out of all theoretically possible phonological expressions. While the...
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Full-text available
1. Introduction In this paper we aim to provide an analysis of nasal consonants in the Zambian language Bemba – consonants only for the simple reason that there are no nasal vowels in Bemba. We set out by identifying two areas of distinct phonological behaviour of nasals which we believe are instructive – N+C clusters and nasal harmony (section 2)....

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Projects

Projects (3)
Project
The aim of this research is to understand why people differ in their understanding and interpretation of Covid-19, and whether these differences are related to the language/s people speak, read, and write other than English. London’s multilingual communities have access to and receive different kinds of information in different languages, which sometimes contains conflicted information. This raises the question of which kind of sources members of these communities are more likely to believe and whether this affects how they react to Covid-19 and to Covid-19 vaccines. Do people think that “their community” is doing everything they can stop Covid? Do people receive enough information about protection from Covid and about vaccines? To answer those questions, the project (1) conducts an online survey, mainly amongst ethnic and minority communities, (2) holds focus group interviews, group interviews, and individual interviews, and (3) analyses narratives about Covid based on collected public information, and compares these analyses to the outcome of the survey and interviews. This will allow us to answer our research questions and to provide practical advice. Led by Dr Nana Sato-Rossberg (Principal Investigator) Head of School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, and the three Co-investigators Dr Yan Jiang, Professor Lutz Marten, and Professor Edward Simpson, the project will involve a team of 14 SOAS languages and cultures experts and anthropologists, who will investigate how information about Covid-19 and associated risks flows is translated in 14 different languages spoken in London. London is a highly multilingual community – there are more than 200 languages spoken in London’s primary schools alone. Many of London’s multilingual and multicultural communities have access to, and rely on, information about Covid-19 in several languages. As a result, London’s migrant, ethnic, and minority communities are engaged in translating and interpreting Covid-19 information from different sources and often adopt a variety of perspectives, which will inform their understanding of and behavioural response to the pandemic. The team said: “One of the key responses to the Covid-19 crisis is change in individuals’ behaviour: the success of social distancing, hand-washing, or the wearing of masks/face coverings all depend on individual members of the community adopting these measures. This change of behaviour relies on accurate, reliable and accessible information about Covid-19 and a good understanding of risks associated with Covid-19 among all members of the community. For this, language and understanding of culture are both crucial and this project showcases how expertise in languages and cultures can contribute to society in situations such as this pandemic.” The communities involved in this project speak languages as diverse as Standard Arabic, Algerian Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Turkish, Urdu, Somali, Swahili, and Yoruba. The project will collect, document, and synthesize individual accounts from community members in London, information in the target languages published in London, and information available to community members from their (historical) home countries, their governments and on social media. The project will draw on the extensive language and cultural expertise at SOAS in collaboration with public agencies and community representatives. The SOAS language experts involved in this research are Dr Bukola Aluko-Kpotie (Yoruba), Dr Aicha Belkadi (Arabic), Narguess Farzad (Persian), Dr Ida Hadjivayanis (Swahili), Dr Nancy Hawker (Hebrew), Dr Youkyung Ju (Korean), Dr David Lunn (Hindi and Urdu), Dr Soe-Tjen Marching (Indonesian), Dr Burçin Mustafa (Turkish and Arabic), Naresh Sharma (Punjabi), Dr Satona Suzuki (Japanese) and Abshir Warsame (Somali and Swahili).
Project
The Leverhulme-funded project explores linguistic similarities within a sample of Bantu languages, and aims to demonstrate how the structures of different Bantu languages have been shaped by the interaction of processes of historical innovation, language contact, and universal functions of human language. It adopts a new approach to Bantu classification by working with grammatical (mophosyntactic) data (rather than lexical or phonological data), and aims to shed light on the intricate interaction between language change and contact within (rather than across) one genetic family. In particular, it probes the hypothesis that Bantu languages are both a genetic unit and a linguistic area and aims to show how the two processes of change and contact lead to different effects. More information is available here: https://www.soas.ac.uk/linguistics/morphosyntactic-variation-in-bantu/