Archive for the ‘TS Translation Studies’ Category

TS604-2009 A Focussed Study of C’Lela Verb Inflection

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009
C'Lela Verb Inflection Paper

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C'Lela Texts


This paper describes a particular type of verb inflection in C’Lela, a Niger-Congo language from NW Nigeria, focussing on the future/habitual inflection and comparing it with similar inflections. Chapter 1 introduces the language and the range of verbal inflection. Chapter 2 surveys the two inflections which use preverbal material and argues that these use prefixes rather than a separate set of pronouns. Chapter 3 explores the forms and semantic ranges of the t- prefix inflection, which occurs in two variants. Chapter 4 tentatively investigates possible grammaticisation sources for the t- prefix. Residue and avenues for further fruitful study of related material are reviewed in chapter 5 and chapter 6 concludes the discussion, summarising the distinctive features of the t- prefix inflections and the most probable grammaticisation source.

Read the full paper: C’Lela Verb Inflection – Future Forms [PDF, 3.5MB; includes paper and main texts]


TS501-2007 Vernacular Scriptures: The History and Impact of the Igbo Bible, 1840-1920

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

PDF Version: The-history-and-impact-of-the-igbo-bible-1840-1920

When in 1841 the Church Missionary Society (CMS) first began work among the Igbo people of what is today Southern Nigeria, they were eager to use translation of the Bible and other materials as a central part of their missionary strategy.  The missionaries, J. F. Schön, a German, and Samuel Crowther, a Yoruba, had already been working with the many Igbo among the freed slaves in Sierra Leone and had carried out some preliminary study of the language and translated various materials into Igbo.  It is surprising then that almost sixty years passed before a major translation of the Igbo Bible was completed, and that the first Igbo Bible to be circulated widely was not published until 1913.  Why did the Igbo Bible take more than seventy years to produce, and what was its eventual impact?

TS720-2008 Special Topics: Yoruba and Idaasha

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Ede Idaasha and Yoruba:
a brief study in language change due to migration and independent development

David Rowbory
TS 720 Special Topics in Translation Studies • 12 July 2008

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PDF version: ts720-rowbory-3-final-yoruba-paper

Yoruba language and culture dominates the South West of Nigeria. Arguably Samuel Crowther’s Bible translation and subsequent literacy development led to a newly coherent sense of self-identity as ‘Yoruba’ among the varied but related peoples inhabiting a number of villages and towns there. Dialect variation exists but seemingly has a minimal impact on mutual intelligibility. However, at one point possibly in the 17th Century a group (or several groups) migrated from Egba (Nigeria) and surrounding areas to what is now neighbouring Benin. Thus they became geographically isolated from those Yoruba dialects that remained in situ. Based on interviews with a speaker of Ede Idaasha (one such Yoruboid language) this paper surveys some areas of change found.
The Ethnologue notes that with around 100,000 speakers in 2002, Ede Idaasha (or Idaacha, henceforth simply ‘Idaasha’) is the second largest
“of 8 languages that make up the Ede language cluster (Yorboid) that spreads over southwestern Nigeria, southern and central Benin, and into southern and central Togo. The cluster also includes Ede Cabe, Ede Ica, Ife, Ede Ije, Ede Nago, Kura Ede Nago, Manigri-Kambole Ede Nago. The various people groups seek to maintain their individual identities yet recognize the wider ‘Yoruba’ community.”
(Gordon 2005:Languages of Benin). (more…)

TS720-2008 Special Topics in Translation Studies: The Future of Prehistoric Linguistics

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008



The Future of Prehistoric Comparative Linguistics

A Review of Guthrie’s Comparative Bantu Methodology with Insights from Recent Relevant Literature on Comparative Linguistics, Language Change and Reconstructing Genetic Links and Suggestions Toward Contemporary Applications

David Rowbory

TS 720 Special Topics in Translation Studies • 1 July 2008

— Contents: —

0. Introduction 1

1. Comparative Linguistics: Guthrie’s Comparative Bantu Methodology 2


  • The process in brief 2
  • Comparative Bantu: An Overview 4


2. An Overview of Other Literature 5


  • Language Change (McMahon 1994) 5
  • African Languages: An Introduction (Heine & Nurse 2000) 6
  • Greenberg, Mathematical Models and Lexicostatistics (Fodor 1982) 8


3. Data Preparation 10

4. Simple Comparisons 12


  • Meaning as preferred connector 13
  • Underlying Assumptions 14


5. Systematising: Associated Comparisons and Comparative Series 15


  • Simple Computer-assistance 16
  • Assessment of the Computer-Assisted Comparison System 20


6. Inferring Relationships 22


  • Guthrie, Greenberg and Differing Interpretations 22


7. Possible Application Within and Beyond Bantu 23


  • The Point of Genetic and Other Classifications 24
  • Nigerian Languages 25


8. Conclusions and Further Study 26

9. Bibliography 28


TS507-2008 Relative Clauses In Kikamba

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

PDF version: 08ts507c-rowbory-relative-clauses-kikamba

Relative Clauses in Kikamba

David Rowbory • 20 June 2008

Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology: Advanced Morphology & Syntax


Kikamba is classified by Guthrie (1948) as Bantu language E55, related quite closely to Kikuyu. See Rowbory (2008) for more detail. Here we study morphological operations used in Kikamba to relativise nominals so as to produce a multi-clause (multi-predicate) sentence. The study has been somewhat hindered by many writers (whether casual writers, or in books such as Mbiti 1966) neglecting to use the full orthographic means to distinguish tone and some vowels. So, what should be written ĩ representing IPA [e] is often not distinguished from i (IPA [i]), though there is a definite phonological difference. The situation is similar with u / ũ (IPA [o]). The standard word order is SVO.

We began this study not with elicitation but by examining some texts from transcribed speech and translated stories and it became clear that Kikamba makes frequent use of restrictive relative clauses. However we found no unambiguous evidence of non-restrictive relatives, which merely comment on a noun phrase rather than delineating its reference. So for this paper we narrow our focus to treat only restrictive relative clauses, following Andrews (2006:207) who considers non-restrictive relatives to behave somewhat differently to relative clauses. Although Andrews considers questions and adverbial clauses to fall outside the scope of a typology of relative clauses, we touch on these briefly here since they seem to be related to relative clauses in Kikamba.

We explore the most common and obvious relativising strategy, the situations in which it may be used, and other relativisation strategies. We examine the grammatical categories (subject, direct object, oblique, indirect object etc) which may be relativised, and briefly mention the use of relative clauses in questions and the related use of headless relative clauses.

Natural texts were sourced from Mbiti (1966) and an interview with an elderly man recorded and conducted by a fellow student Michael Mwaka. Subsequent clarification, translation and elicitation was carried out with the help of Michael and our house help.