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In October 2012 I was appointed as researcher at LACITO (CNRS, Paris); since September 2015, I am also deputy director of LACITO. During 2011-12 I was a British Academy postdoctoral fellow based at SOAS (University of London), working on the development of agreement in Berber, with a particular focus on the typologically unusual phenomenon of indirect object agreement. In August 2010 I finished a PhD on the grammatical effects of contact (mainly with Arabic and Berber) on two languages of the Sahara, Kwarandzyəy or Korandjé (a Songhay language of southwestern Algeria) and Siwi (a Berber language of western Egypt) at SOAS. I spent most of October 2007 through May 2008 in the Sahara documenting these two languages, whose speakers I would like to thank for their amazing generosity and good nature. I also thank the AHRC for funding my research.
Before starting my MA, I was Curator of the Rosetta Project for two years; during my studies at SOAS I spent some time working at the SOAS Endangered Language Archives, where I built the bilingual language documentation link library OREL. My BA was in Mathematics at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge; while I haven't used it directly much, the resulting analytical and programming skills have often come in handy. I reached the finals in University Challenge in 2004, which turned out to be good fun. I keep a linguistics blog, Jabal al-Lughat. You can email me at [my first name] at gmail.com.
Berber and Arabic in Siwa (Egypt): A Study in Linguistic Contact. Berber Studies Vol. 37. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe, 2013 (published 2014).
Siwi is the easternmost Berber language, one of the few surviving
representatives of the languages spoken in the eastern Sahara before the
arrival of Bedouin Arab groups in the 11th century – although this
apparent continuity conceals a history of migration, as this book argues
based on loanwords and intra-Berber relationships. The effects of contact upon the grammar are far
more far-reaching than in better documented westerly Berber languages, extending to non-concatenative templatic
morphology and some pronominal endings, as well as prominent calquing. Siwi itself is inadequately documented and under threat; this book, based on in situ
fieldwork, describes Siwi grammar in greater detail than any previous
publication, reporting many hitherto unattested constructions. The appendix includes a selection of Siwi texts spanning multiple genres – public speech,
description, storytelling, poetry – and produced by speakers of
- "Clitic Doubling and Contact in Arabic". Forthcoming in Zeitschrift für Arabische Linguistik.
Forms of clitic doubling are attested in a significant number of Arabic varieties, including the Levant and northern Iraq, parts of Algeria and Morocco, Malta, Central Asia, and even, doubtfully, Dhofar. Language contact is widely accepted as an explanation for its presence in the Levant, and has been advanced as an explanation for its occurrence in North Africa, Malta, and Central Asia. However, none of the contact explanations proposed have yet addressed this phenomenon's overall distribution across all of Arabic, usually limiting themselves to one or two regions at a time, and few have examined the parameters along which the relevant constructions vary. Without such an overview, it is not possible to exclude the hypothesis that clitic doubling simply reflects Arabic-internal trends, nor to determine whether its distribution reflects a single innovation or multiple independent ones. Updating the pioneering work of A. FISCHER (1907; 1909), this article demonstrates that clitic doubling has arisen independently within Arabic at least four times under the influence of different substrata/adstrata, and suggests areas in which more data on this construction would be especially useful.
- "The origin of mid vowels in Siwi", with Marijn van Putten. Forthcoming in Studies in African Linguistics.
Recent documentation has established that the Siwi language of western Egypt, unlike most other Berber languages, has two phonemic mid vowels appearing not only in Arabic loanwords but also in inherited vocabulary: /e/ and /o/. This article examines their origin. Proto-Berber originally had a single mid vowel *e, which appears to have been retained in Siwi only before word-final /n/. In all other environments the contrast between *i and *e has been neutralized, although word-finally it seems to have survived into the 19th century. Instances of /e/ in other environments are phonetically conditioned, deriving variously from *i, *ăy, or *ă in appropriate contexts. The few attestations of /o/ are irregular, but occur in environments paralleling those in which /e/ is attested synchronically. Modern Siwi mid vowels are thus mostly secondary developments; except in final /-en/, they provide no direct evidence for the reconstruction of mid vowels in earlier intermediate stages of Berber.
- "Berber languages". Forthcoming in ed. Anthony Grant, The Oxford Handbook of Language Contact. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015?.
Like any other language family, Berber has been in contact with a variety of languages, and the relatively good early documentation of Mediterranean languages allows this contact to be traced back almost three millennia. Its contact with Arabic is particularly remarkable for the unusually wide range of examples of intense language contact phenomena that it provides, enabled by widespread fluent bilingualism. This article first summarises the long history of Berber lexical contact with languages as various as Egyptian, Phoenician, Turkish, and French, along with efforts to reverse it by creating neologisms. It then examines the far-reaching influence of Arabic on the morphology and syntax of most Berber languages, including even verbal inflection in one variety. Finally, a brief glossed text in Siwi illustrates the distribution of borrowings in discourse.
- "Songhay languages". Forthcoming in ed. Rainer Vossen, The Oxford Handbook of African Languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Songhay is a language family of the Sahel with more than four million speakers, mainly in western Niger and northeastern Mali. In spite of its small population, its role in regional history has been substantial. Strong contact effects along the periphery have resulted in a remarkable situation where different varieties may have nearly identical basic vocabularies but conspicuously different typologies. Cladistic and lexical evidence shows that much of the observed variation reflects contact influences quite different from those obtaining today. After briefly detailing the distribution, history, and phonology of Songhay and the principal sources for its grammar and lexicon, this chapter examines morphology and syntax across the family. Particular attention is given to innovations distinguishing the three principal subgroups. Finally, the structure and history of the lexicon is briefly discussed, with an emphasis on borrowing as means of expansion.
- "Sokna re-examined: Two unedited Sokna Berber vocabularies from 1850". In ed. Anna Maria Di Tolla, Quaderni di Studi Berberi e Libico-Berberi 4 : La lingua nella vita e la vita della lingua. Itinerari e percorsi degli studi berberi. Naples: UNIOR, pp. 179-206.
Berber variety of Sokna, in west-central Libya, is rather unusual and
not very well described. In 1915 it already had only five fluent
speakers, and today only the old still remember a few words. The two
vocabularies gathered by the English traveller James Richardson in 1850,
previously unpublished, are thus important for the study of this
variety, and by extension for the study of Libyan Berber more broadly.
This article presents them for the first time, with transcription,
commentary, and comparisons with the few previously published materials.
- "Language Contact in the Sahara". In The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics, 2016.
might be expected from the difficulty of traversing it, the Sahara
Desert has been a fairly effective barrier to direct contact between its
two edges; trans-Saharan language contact is limited to the borrowing
of non-core vocabulary, minimal from south to north and mostly mediated
by education from north to south. Its own inhabitants, however, are
necessarily accustomed to travelling desert spaces, and contact between
languages within the Sahara has often accordingly had a much greater
impact. Several peripheral Arabic varieties of the Sahara retain
morphology as well as vocabulary from the languages spoken by their
speakers' ancestors, in particular Berber in the southwest and Beja in
the southeast; the same is true of at least one Saharan Hausa variety.
The Berber languages of the northern Sahara have in turn been deeply
affected by centuries of bilingualism in Arabic, borrowing core
vocabulary and some aspects of morphology and syntax. The Northern
Songhay languages of the central Sahara have been even more profoundly
affected by a history of multilingualism and language shift involving
Tuareg, Songhay, Arabic, and other Berber languages, much of which
remains to be unraveled. These languages have borrowed so extensively
that they retain barely a few hundred core words of Songhay vocabulary;
those loans have not only introduced new morphology but in some cases
replaced old morphology entirely. In the southeast, the spread of
Arabic westward from the Nile Valley has created a spectrum of varieties
with varying degrees of local influence; the Saharan ones remain almost
entirely undescribed. Much work remains to be done throughout the
region, not only on identifying and analysing contact effects but even
simply on describing the languages its inhabitants speak.
- "From existential to indefinite determiner: Kaš in Algerian Arabic". In George Grigore and Gabriel Bițună (eds.), Arabic Varieties: Far and Wide. Proceedings of the 11th International Conference of AIDA – Bucharest, 2015. Bucharest: Editura Universității din București, pp. 505-513. 2016. (ISBN 978-606-16-0709-9).
Algerian Arabic has developed a new indefinite determiner kaš, with a number of loosely related functions. Despite its ubiquity in modern Algiers, this word is absent from 19th century sources, and appears to be a relatively recent development. More recent sources allude to it briefly without ever giving a full description. This article describes its syntactic distribution and its meaning in the dialect of Dellys (north-central Algeria) for the first time, identifying five distinct constructions in which kaš appears. It then examines this form's history based on written data. Based on the results, it reconstructs the reinterpretations that produced the present-day distribution of kaš, showing that it derives from a combination of an existential predicator with the polyfunctional morpheme ši. This finding confirms the existence of a grammaticalisation pathway from existential to indefinite quantifier, a question bearing on some scenarios proposed in the context of the debate within Arabic dialectology over the history of ši/šay'.
- "Attrition and revival in Awjila Berber", with Marijn van Putten. Corpus 14, pp. 23-58, 2015.
Berber is a highly endangered Berber variety spoken in the East of
Libya. Only minimal material is available on the language. This is
unfortunate, as that material reveals that the language is in some
respects very archaic and in others grammatically unique, and as such is
of particular comparative and historical interest. Fieldwork has been
impossible for decades due to the political situation, leading to
uncertainty about whether the language was even still spoken. With the
rising popularity of Facebook, however, more and more Berber speakers
are taking to Facebook to converse in their own language. Several
inhabitants of Awjila have accordingly set up a Facebook page Ašal=ənnax
"our village" where they communicate with one another in the Awjila
language. The authors have collected a corpus of the conversations on
this Facebook page, which have been transcribed and translated.
Analysis of this corpus adds substantially to our knowledge of Awjili
and its situation. The posters' discussion of their motivations for
using the language cast light on the language's prospects for
survival, while the posts themselves yield many previously unattested
words. At the same time, the corpus provides a case study in language
contact. Examination of the grammatical and lexical features of this
“Facebook-Awjili” language reveals that these speakers' usage is heavily
influenced by Arabic, showing extensive language attrition absent from
earlier data. The resulting constructions show parallels with other
contact-heavy varieties, notably Siwi. In both respects, this study
casts light upon the uses and limits of social media as a source of
- "Explaining Korandjé: Language contact, plantations, and the trans-Saharan trade". Journal of Pidgin and Creole Linguistics 30:2, pp. 189-224, 2015.
intense Berber-Songhay language contact that produced Northern Songhay
cannot be understood adequately without taking into account the
existence of a Northern Songhay language outside the Azawagh valley –
Korandjé, in Algeria – showing no significant signs of Tuareg contact.
This article proposes a new explanation based on linguistic, epigraphic,
and historical data: Western Berber-speaking Masūfa, present throughout
northern Mali around 1200, founded Tabelbala to facilitate a new trade
route; they chose Northern Songhay speakers, already a distinct group,
for their experience in oasis farming and possibly copper mining. As
Masūfa influence waned, the language was reoriented towards North
- "Gaining a language, losing a language: Korandje from the 12th to the 21st century". The Middle East in London 11:5, pp. 11-12, 2015.
An overview of the linguistic history of Korandje for a popular audience.
- "Non-Tuareg Berber and the Genesis of Nomadic Northern Songhay". Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 36:1, pp. 121-143, 2015.
massive borrowing resulting in systematic suppletion, the nomadic
Northern Songhay languages, Tadaksahak and Tagdal, are some of the most
striking products of intense language contact in Africa. While the
importance of Berber in their formation is obvious, published
comparisons have focused almost exclusively on Tuareg, the currently
dominant Berber language of the region. This paper, however,
demonstrates that Tuareg-Songhay contact alone cannot adequately
account for their emergence. Tadaksahak at least seems to have as its
substrate not Tuareg, but rather a Western Berber language closely
related to Tetserrét, a small minority language of Niger; such a
language also played a role in the development of Tagdal. Western Berber
influence, however, is not reconstructible at the
proto-Northern-Songhay level, despite being attested in most Northern
Songhay languages individually. A closer look at the Western Berber
stratum in Tadaksahak indicates that language shift there was
accompanied by broader cultural changes, including a shift away from the
regional norm of cross-cousin marriage towards the North African
preference for patrilineal parallel cousin marriage. These linguistic
and cultural changes may have been part of an effort to assert an
identity as specialists in Islamic learning, following regional
political shifts around the sixteenth century.
- "How to make a comitative preposition agree it-with its external
argument: Songhay and the typology of conjunction and agreement". In Paul Widmer, Jürg Fleischer, and Elisabeth Rieken (eds.),
Agreement from a diachronic perspective, Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 75-100, 2015.
article describes two hitherto unreported comitative strategies
exemplified in Songhay languages of West Africa – external agreement,
and bipartite – and demonstrates their wider applicability. The former
strategy provides the first clear-cut example of a previously unattested
agreement target-controller pair. Based on comparative evidence, this
article proposes a scenario for how these could have developed
from the typologically unremarkable comitative and coordinative
strategies reconstructible for proto-Songhay, in a process facilitated
by contact with Berber. The grammaticalisation chain required to
explain this has the unexpected effect of reversing a much
better-known one previously claimed to be unidirectional, the
development COMITATIVE > NP-AND.
- "Archaic and innovative Islamic prayer names around the Sahara". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 78:2, pp. 357-374, 2015.
in the Sahara and southern Morocco, and several West African languages
including Soninké, Mandinka, and Songhay, all refer to the five Islamic
daily prayers using terms not derived from their usual Arabic names, and
showing striking mutual similarities. These names’ motivation has not
hitherto been explained. An examination of Islamic sources reveals that
many correspond to terms attested within Arabic from an early period
which have passed out of use elsewhere. Others, with a more limited
distribution, reflect transfer from a time-keeping system widely
attested among Berber-speaking oases of the northern Sahara. These
results demonstrate that the variant prayer terminologies attested in
the hadith reflect popular usages that were still commonplace at the
time when North Africa was conquered, and underscore the conservatism of
non-Arabic Islamic religious terminology in and around the Sahara.
- "The development of addressee agreement on demonstratives". Diachronica 31.4, pp. 535-563, 2014 [actually appeared 2015].
person-oriented nature of a demonstrative system can be marked
explicitly by incorporating person markers into demonstratives. When
those distinguish gender or number, this can lead to an unusual type of
allocutivity: addressee agreement on medials. The latter development is
cross-linguistically rarely reported, but is attested in Siwi Berber,
Quranic and Razih Arabic, and arguably Imperial Aramaic. Examination of
these and other languages shows a pathway whereby demonstrative systems
gain addressee-anchored terms through grammaticalisation of a phrase
including an oblique 2nd person pronoun, occasionally producing
addressee agreement. The semantic properties of allocutivity help
explain the rarity of the latter result.
- "The Development of Dative Agreement in Berber: Beyond Nominal Hierarchies". Transactions of the Philological Society 113:2, pp. 213-248, 2015 (online 2014).
agreement commonly emerges from clitic doubling, which in turn derives
from topic shift constructions (Givon 1976) – a grammaticalisation
pathway termed the Agreement Cycle. For accusatives, at the intermediate
stages of this development, doubling constitutes a form of Differential
Object Marking, and passes towards agreement as the conditions for its
use are relaxed to cover larger sections of the Definiteness and Animacy
Scales. Berber shows widespread dative doubling with substantial
variation across languages in the conditioning factors, which in one
case has developed into inflectional dative agreement. Examination of a
corpus covering 18 Berber varieties suggests that low
Definiteness/Animacy datives are less likely to be doubled. However,
since most datives are both definite and animate, these factors account
for very little of the observed variation. Much more can be accounted
for by an unexpected factor: the choice of verb. “Say” consistently
shows much higher frequencies of doubling, usually nearly 100%. This
observation can be explained on the hypothesis that doubling derives
from afterthoughts, not from topic dislocation.
- "Syntactically obligatory code-switching? The syntax of numerals in Beni-Snous Berber", with Fatma Kherbache. International Journal of Bilingualism 2016, Vol. 20(2) 97 –115.
rules in one language that induce the speaker to switch to another
language (Matras’ ‘bilingual suppletion’) are reported for two
languages: Beni-Snous Berber, and Jerusalem Domari. Few details are
available, yet the two cases show greater similarities than expected if
any grammatical rule could specify switching. This paper seeks to
describe the phenomenon more precisely and to provide a principled
explanation for the similarities. The results indicate that Beni-Snous
Berber – like Domari – shows a statistically significant tendency to use
Arabic nouns with numerals for which Arabic and Berber selectional
requirements conflict. Modern speakers additionally show optional
syntactic calquing in such cases, accompanied by fewer switches. These
facts are predicted by the hypothesis that ‘bilingual suppletion’ is
induced by words shared across the two languages with different
- "Siwi addressee agreement and demonstrative typology". In ed. Catherine Taine-Cheikh, StuF 67:1, Berber in typological perspective, 2014, pp. 25-34.
shows gender/number agreement of medial demonstratives with the
addressee. Such phenomena are cross-linguistically very rarely reported,
and are not discussed in major surveys of the typology of
demonstratives. However, within person-oriented demonstrative systems,
such marking amounts to an iconic representation of addressee anchoring.
The pragmatics of Siwi demonstratives thus cast light on the nature of
the mapping from person to place that such systems reflect. Comparative
eastern Berber data suggests that demonstrative addressee agreement may
be more widespread than the literature reflects.
- "Writing 'Shelha' in new media: Emergent non-Arabic
literacy in Southwestern Algeria". In ed. Meikal Mumin and
Kees Versteegh, The Arabic Script in Africa: Studies on the Usage of a Writing System. Leiden: Brill, pp. 91-104, 2014.
article examines the transcription choices and social purposes involved
in the writing of non-Arabic local languages ("Shelha") in southwestern Algeria,
including several Berber varieties and Korandjé, in the Arabic script,
mainly online. Examination of the transcription choices suggests that
'Ajami' writing is a natural side effect of Arabic literacy, which can
show significant homogeneity across individuals and languages without
the practice itself ever having been institutionally taught. The
contexts and purposes of the examples confirm that, in public contexts,
Arabic remains the default choice, with 'Shelha' reserved almost
exclusively for presenting language-specific form rather than
translatable meaning; in private messages, however, 'Shelha' may still
be used to emphasise solidarity, paralleling its oral sociolinguistic
- "Sub-Saharan lexical influence in North African Arabic and Berber". In ed. Mena Lafkioui, African Arabic: Approaches to Dialectology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 211-236, 2013.
This article discusses sub-Saharan loans in North Africa, many of them previously unidentified. While Hausa influence is most widespread, Songhay is a close second, and Manding and Kanuri have also played a role. Most loans are limited either geographically to the Saharan region or socially to the context of ex-slaves' music and organisations; however, four plant names have passed into general usage even in some coastal areas. Sub-Saharan influence on Ghadames Berber is particularly profound, including the borrowing of a new word class of ideophones.
- "Language and the Study of Africa", with Philip Jaggar. In ed. Thomas Spear, Oxford Bibliographies in African Studies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
This is an annotated introductory bibliography for African languages and linguistics, attempting to give at least some information on each family, as well as on more general questions of phonology, morphology, syntax, and orthography.
- "The Subclassification of Songhay and its Historical Implications". In Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 33:2, pp. 181-213, 2012. (Or here.)
This article shows, based on shared arbitrary innovations, that the Northern Songhay (NS) languages of the Sahara form a valid subfamily, and that Northern Songhay and Western Songhay (WS) together form a valid subfamily, Northwestern Songhay (NWS). The speakers of PNS practised cultivation and permanent architecture, but were unfamiliar with date palms; those of PNWS were already in contact with Berber and Arabic, and lived along the Niger river. This is compatible with two scenarios for the northerly spread of Songhay: A. NS spread out from an oasis north-east of Gao, and PNWS had been spoken in areas west of Gao which now speak Eastern Songhay; or B. NS spread from the Timbuktu region, and WS derives from heavy “de-creolising” influence by Eastern Songhay on an originally Northern Songhay language.
- Grammatical Contact in the Sahara: Arabic, Berber, and Songhay in Tabelbala and Siwa, PhD thesis, 2010.
This thesis examines the effects of contact on the grammars of the languages of two Saharan oases, Siwa and Tabelbala. These share similar linguistic ecologies in many respects, and can be regarded as among the most extreme representatives of a language contact situation ongoing for centuries across the oases of the northern Sahara. This work identifies and argues for contact effects across a wide range of core morphology and syntax, using these both to shed new light on regional history and to test claims about the limits on, and expected outcomes of, contact. While reaffirming the ubiquity of pattern copying, the results encourage an expanded understanding of the role of material borrowing in grammatical contact, showing that the borrowing of functional morphemes and of paradigmatic sets of words or phrases containing them can lead to grammatical change. More generally, it confirms the uniformitarian principle that diachronic change arises through the long-term application of processes observable in synchronic language contact situations. The similarity of the sociolinguistic situations provides a close approximation to a natural controlled experiment, allowing us to pinpoint cases where differences in the original structure of the recipient language appear to have influenced its receptivity to external influence in those aspects of structure.
- "The Western Berber Stratum in Kwarandzyey", in ed. D. Ibriszimow, M. Kossmann, H. Stroomer, R. Vossen, Études berbères V – Essais sur des variations dialectales et autres articles. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe, pp. 177-189, 2010.
By examining regular correspondences and vocabulary distribution, this article demonstrates that many of the Berber loans in Kwarandzyey (Korandjé) derive neither from the Berber varieties currently spoken near the oasis nor from Tuareg, but rather from the highly divergent Western subfamily of Berber to which Zenaga and Tetserrét belong. These loans are particularly conspicuous in the domains of herding, marriage, and religion. Their presence implies that Western Berber must once have been far more widely spoken, including areas near at least one of Tabelbala or the Niger bend. The principal sound changes that have affected Kwarandzyey are also examined.
- "Ajami in West Africa", Afrikanistik Online 2010.
This article examines the practice of adapting the Arabic script to write non-Arabic languages in West Africa, a form of literacy known as Ajami which remains widespread despite little or no government support. Among the methods found to be used to transcribe non-Arabic sounds, the "ajami diacritic" of Senegal and Guinea is of particular interest, appearing unmotivated from a narrowly linguistic perspective but readily explicable as a rational adaptation to the parallel educational system in which Ajami is typically learned.
- "Siwa and its significance for Arabic dialectology" (pre-review version), Zeitschrift für Arabische Linguistik 51, pp. 51-75, 2009.
Siwi is best known for being the easternmost Berber language, but includes a very substantial Arabic stratum. The q reflex of qāf and the final ʾimāla of -ā to -ī in loanwords alone suffice to establish that most of this influence derives neither from Bedouin dialects nor from the main Nile Valley dialects; instead, these link Siwa to other Egyptian oases. Some borrowed grammatical elements, notably lā "not" and qət ̣t ̣"ever", the actor noun formation a-CəCCēCī, and demonstrative agreement with the addressee, underline Siwi’s archaism relative to almost all modern Arabic dialects. The depth of Arabic influence on Siwi suggests very close social contact, and historical sources indicate an Arab presence in the oasis alongside Berber in the 12th century. The Arabic element of Siwi thus provides a new source of evidence on sedentary Arabic dialects that reached the region independently of the Banī Sulaym and probably prior to their 11th century arrival.
(Erratum: on p. 56, the phrases "in
the aorist and intensive" and
in the perfect" should be deleted.)
- "The Typology of Number Borrowing in Berber", in ed. Naomi Hilton, Rachel Arscott, Katherine Barden, Arti Krishna, Sheena Shah, Meg Zellers, CamLing 2007 Proceedings, Cambridge:Cambridge Institute of Language Research 2007, pp. 237-244 (first presented at CamLing 2007).
In Berber, numerals are commonly loanwords from Arabic; some languages retain as few as one or two non-Arabic numerals, while others preserve a complete inventory. Closer examination reveals differences in intensity of borrowing even within single languages, depending on the numbers' functional usage. The languages in question are closely related to one another and are all influenced by varieties of Arabic, allowing what amounts to a controlled experiment, with similar contact situations in different areas yielding a spectrum of possible outcomes. Careful examination of this spectrum allows us to set up a typology of numeral borrowing in Arabic-Berber contact, showing how linguistic, social, and cognitive factors all affect the process of number borrowing and how synonymy may emerge as a transitional stage in the adoption of a new system.
- Explorations in the Syntactic Cartography of Algerian Arabic, MA thesis (SOAS 2006).
Using original data from the Dellys dialect, this thesis presents a preliminary map of some important points in the syntactic cartography of Algerian Arabic, mapping out some of the multiple DP-related functional positions to reveal a surface situation bearing strong similarities to those postulated by Beghelli and Stowell (1997) and Rizzi (1997). In both Algerian and Classical Arabic this structure is subject to a basic dichotomy that justifies some version of the traditional CP/IP distinction: positions below FocP are accessible to movement, while positions above it can be accessed only through the use of resumptive pronouns. A functional hierarchy of minimally six positions is required to account for the observed facts in a cartographical framework; these may be labelled as follows: TopP FocP AgrSP NegP NeutP VP.
- "Notes on the Algerian Arabic Dialect of Dellys" - Estudios de Dialectología Norteafricana y Andalusí 9, pp. 151-180, 2005.
The Arabic dialect of Dellys belongs to the little-documented urban north-central Algeria dialect group, and - like most such dialects - it displays traits unusual in pre-Hilalian dialects, in particular the retention of interdentals. Berber, Andalusi, and later Bedouin influence are all observable in its lexicon, and occasionally in its grammar. Lexically, the Dellys dialect is particularly noteworthy for its extensive retention of precolonial vocabulary relating to fishing and sea creatures, largely replaced by French loanwords in other towns of the region. This paper summarizes points of dialectological interest in a framework loosely based on Caubet (2001).
- "Broken Plurals – or Infixes?: The Case of the Algerian Arabic of Dellys" - Estudios de Dialectología Norteafricana y Andalusí 6, pp. 19-34, 2002.
This paper, written before I started the formal study of linguistics, presents an alternative analysis of broken plurals in Algerian Arabic in terms of infixation, combined with a description of the system for the Dellys dialect.
Erratum: Further investigation revealed that ṭəms (p. 33) refers to a rare type of fish rather than a seal.
There's also work in progress.
Conferences at which I've presented:
- 29 August 2016 - CALL 46 (Leiden), on "Final vowel loss in Korandje: A verb-specific sound change".
- 22 August 2016 - Mini African Symposium, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (Jena), on "What can linguistics tell us about the history of Songhay?" (invited speaker.)
- 14 January 2016 - External seminar, University of Stockholm, on "Typologically unusual agreement
target-controller pairs in northern Africa" (invited speaker.)
- 12 November 2015 - Les trente ans de la revue Études et Documents Berbères » (MSH Paris Nord, Saint-Denis la Plaine), on "Le parler de Sokna (Libye) à la lumière de nouvelles données".
- 24 June 2015 - Journée des jeunes chercheurs du LACITO, on "Etudier l'arabe chez les juifs originaires de l'Algérie" (with Benjamin Touati).
- 11 June 2015 - Workshop on Morphosyntactic interference in heritage languages, UWE (Bristol), on "Verbal infection interference among heritage speakers of Awjili Berber" (with Marijn van Putten).
- 27 May 2015 - 11th Conference of the Association Internationale de Dialectologie Arabe (AIDA), Bucharest, on "From existential to indefinite determiner: kaš in Algerian Arabic"
- 29 January 2015 - Réunion du GLECS, Paris, on "La diffusion en Afrique du Nord : vers l’étude du contact intra-berbère".
- 17 January 2015 - Journée d'études de la SLP "Diffusion, implantation, convergence" on "Diffusion in North Africa - What are our models hiding?"
- 23 September 2014 – Typologie de l'indéfini (LACITO) on "Des origines kašées : L'histoire et la polyfonctionnalité d'un déterminant indéfini en arabe algérien"
- 9 October 2014 - 11 October 2014 - 8. Bayreuth-Frankfurt-Leidener Kolloquium zur Berberologie (Bayreuth), on "Le substrat berbère non-touareg du Tadaksahak".
- 28 August 2014 – Symposium "Language Contact: The State of the Art", Linguistic Association of Finland (Helsinki), on "Borrowing Arabic elatives (comparatives): Root-and-Pattern morphology in language contact".
- 1 July 2014 – Labex RT3 seminar, LACITO, on "Le contact linguistique comme cause de changement typologique au korandjé".
- 14 May 2014 – Endangered Languages Outreach Day 2014 (Endangered Languages in the Middle East and North Africa), SOAS, London, on "Korandjé: An Algerian case of language endangerment in historical perspective".
- 30 April 2014 – Conference series "Langues et sociétés" at Centre d'Etudes Maghrébines en Algérie and Centre de Recherche en Anthropologie Sociale et Culturelle, University of Oran Es-Senia, on "L'histoire du korandjé, une langue algérienne méconnue" (invited speaker.)
- 29 April 2014 – Conference series "Etudes sahariennes" at Centre
d'Etudes Maghrébines en Algérie and Centre de Recherche en Anthropologie
Sociale et Culturelle, University of Oran Es-Senia, on "Le contact linguistique au Sahara" (invited speaker.)
- 4 April 2014 - Problèmes d'analyse et de comparaison des langues (LACITO) on "L'emprunt de syntagmes en berbère : ses causes et ses effets"
- 15 February 2014 – NACAL 42, Leiden, on "Back consonants in Berber".
- 19 December 2013 – Réunion du GLECS, Paris, on "Redoublement clitique et contact linguistique en arabe".
- 12 November 2013 – AIDA 10, Doha, on "Clitic Doubling and Contact in Arabic".
- 11 October 2013 – Creating Standards: Orthography, script and layout in
manuscript traditions based on Arabic alphabet, Hamburg, on "Why Kabyle
never developed a standard Arabic orthography" (invited speaker.)
- 20 September 2013 – 46th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europae, Split, on "Adposition borrowing and complement position in Northern Songhay".
- 26 May 2013 – The Arabic Script in Africa 2, Brussels, on "Understanding a Decontextualised Ajami Manuscript".
- 24 May 2013 – Nilo-Saharan Linguistics Colloquium 2013, Cologne, on "Songhay lexica and the trans-Saharan trade".
- 21 March 2013 – Labex EFL seminar "Quantification, scalarité, pluralité", Paris, on "Numeral syntax in northern Songhay: The syntactic impact of language contact".
- 11 January 2013 – LACITO seminar, Paris, on "L'intonation en korandjé".
- 26 October 2012 - Journée d'étude internationale : Le berbère dans une perspective typologique, Paris, on "Les déictiques en berbère oriental".
- 5 October 2012 - Agreement from a diachronic perspective, Marburg, on "The Development of Indirect Object Agreement in Berber: Beyond nominal hierarchies".
- 26 January 2012 - Réunion du GLECS, Paris, on "Du redoublement clitique à l'accord : le cas du berbère".
- 9 December 2011 - Seminari di MNAMON, Pisa, on "Re-examining Libyco-Berber: how much do we know, and how does it fit into the family's subclassification?"
- 18 November 2011: Journée scientifique (LLACAN), Paris, on "Indirect object agreement in Berber."
- 30 September 2011: Journée d'études : aires linguistique (LACITO), Paris, on “Du Sahel au Maghreb : essai d'une histoire linguistique du korandjé, langue songhay loin de son aire d'origine.”
- 27 May 2011: African Arabic: Approaches to Dialectology, Milan, on “Sub-Saharan Influence on North African Arabic and Berber.”
- 26 August 2010: Workshop on pluractionality: towards a typology of verbal plurality, Leiden, on “Kwarandzyey and the Semantic Typology of Pluractionality.”
- 23-25 August 2010: 40th Colloquium on African Languages and Linguistics, Leiden, on “The Subclassification of Songhay and its Historical Implications.”
- 18-21 July 2010: 6. Bayreuth-Frankfurt-Leidener Kolloquium zur Berberologie, Bayreuth, on “Siwi Indirect Object Agreement: Synchronic Description and Diachronic Perspectives.”
- 5-6 April 2010: The Arabic Script in Africa: Diffusion, Usage, Diversity, and Dynamics of a Writing System, Köln, on “Non-Arabic Arabic in Southwestern Algeria”
- 29 August - 4 September 2009: 1st Summer School of the Evolutionary Linguistics Association, Cortona, on "Oath Negation in Kwarandzyey" (poster)
- 17-21 August 2009: World Congress of African Linguistics 6, Cologne, on "Adposition Borrowing in Kwarandzyey"
- 13-16 July 2009: LFG09, Cambridge, on "Addressee agreement in Siwi demonstratives"
- 28-29 November 2008: 5000 Jahre Schrift in Afrika, Cologne, on "Ajami in West Africa"
- 8-11 October 2008: 5th International Colloquium on Berber Languages and Linguistics, Leiden, on "Kwarandzyey, the language of Tabelbala, and what it tells us about the history of Berber"
- 28-31 August 2008: AIDA 8, Colchester, about "Siwi and its significance for Arabic dialectology"
- 24-28 September 2007: ALT 7, Paris, where I spoke at the Typology of African Languages Workshop about "The Decay of Clitic Attraction across Berber: A Typological Overview"
- 27-29 August 2007: CALL 37, Leiden, about "Tondi Songway Kiini and the subclassification of Songhay"
- 20-21 March 2007: CamLing 2007, Cambridge, about "The Typology of Number Borrowing in Berber" (see above)
- 8-9 April 2005: CELCNA, Salt Lake City, where I gave a joint presentation with Laura Buszard-Welcher on "Building Virtual Speech Communities for Endangered Languages: The E-MELD Query Room"
- Oct. 2007 - Feb. 2008: Tabelbala, Algeria - working on Kwaṛandzyəy (Songhay, arguably Nilo-Saharan)
- Mar. 2008 - May 2008: Siwa, Egypt - working on Siwi (Berber, Afroasiatic)
- May 2012: Siwa, Egypt - working on Siwi
- Apr. 2013 - May 2013 : Tabelbala, Algeria - working on Kwaṛandzyəy
- Apr. 2014 : Bechar, Algeria - working on Kwaṛandzyəy
- David Harrison's When Languages Die. Reviewed in LINGUIST List (2007)
- Mena Lafkioui's Atlas linguistiques des variétés berbères du Rif. Reviewed in Afrikanistik Online (2007).
- Mena Lafkioui and Vermondo Brugnatelli (eds.), Berber in Contact: Linguistic
and Sociolinguistic Perspectives. Reviewed in Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 30 (2009), pp. 267-272.
- David Sudlow's Dictionary of the Tamasheq of North-East
Burkina Faso. Reviewed in Afrika und Übersee 90 (2008/09), pp. 306-308.
- Catherine Taine-Cheikh's Dictionnaire zénaga-français and Dictionnaire français-zénaga. Reviewed in Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 32.1 (2011), pp. 165-168.
- Claire Bowern's Linguistic Fieldwork: A Practical Guide. Reviewed in Language Documentation and Conservation 5 (2011).
- Karl-G. Prasse's Tuareg Elementary Course (Tahaggart). Reviewed in Afrikanistik Online (2011.)
- Lionel Galand's Regards sur le berbère. Reviewed in Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 34:1 (2013), pp. 186-198.
- Terence F. Mitchell's Zuaran Berber (Libya): Grammar and Texts. Reviewed in Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 34:2 (2013), pp. 305-308.
- Regula Christiansen-Bolli's A Grammar of Tadaksahak. Reviewed in Journal of Language Contact 7.2 (2014).
- Maarten Kossmann's The Arabic Influence on Northern Berber. Reviewed in Journal of
African Languages and Linguistics 35:2 (2014), pp. 284–290.
- Carole de Féral (ed.) In and Out of Africa. Languages in Question. In Honour of Robert Nicolaï. Volume 1. Language Contact and Epistemological Issues. Reviewed (en français) in Bulletin de la Société Linguistique de Paris CIX (2014), fasc. 2, pp. 110-116.
- Werner Diem's Negation in Arabic: A Study in Linguistic History, and David Wilmsen's Arabic Indefinites, Interrogatives, and Negators: A Linguistic History of Western Dialects. Reviewed in Linguistics 2016, S4(1), pp. 223-229.
- Dominique Casajus's L’alphabet touareg. Histoire d’un vieil alphabet africain. Reviewed in Anthropos 111.2016.1, pp. 233-234.
Participation in thesis examining committees:
- Valentina Serreli, Univ. d'Aix-Marseille / Università di Sassari, PhD thesis "Society, Languages, and Ideologies in the Oasis of Siwa (Egypt)" (examiner), 31 March 2016
- Gemma Simpkin, Edge Hill University, MRes thesis "Loanwords in the Georgian Language"(external examiner), August 2015
- Khalid Mourigh, University of Leiden, PhD thesis "A grammar of Ghomara Berber" (rapporteur), February 2015
- Valentina Schiattarella, EPHE, PhD thesis "Le berbère de Siwa : documentation, syntaxe et sémantique" (examiner), January 2015
News articles I was interviewed for:
Miscellaneous linguistic stuff I've done:
You can see an archive of my former homepage - notably including a Grammar of Algerian Arabic and a page on the various methods of Writing Berber Languages - on the Wayback Machine. Both contain some minor errors, and one has an inadequate bibliography; I haven't had time lately to bring them up to my current academic standards, but hope that they may nonetheless be useful to learners.