Grammaticalization in African languages

Bernd Heine

in The Oxford Handbook of Grammaticalization

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199586783
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Grammaticalization in African languages

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  • Linguistics
  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics
  • Language Families


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This article aims to provide an overview of grammatical developments or grammaticalisation in African languages. It shows that grammaticalisation theory not only offers a means of reconstructing earlier states in the history of African languages but can also be of use for explaining structural characteristics of these languages. The results indicate that a number of African languages have a distinction between an inclusive and exclusive first person plural in their system of personal pronouns, which can be explained as being the result of the grammaticalisation of a noun for persons or people.

Keywords: African languages; grammaticalisation; structural characteristics; first person plural; noun; persons; people

Article.  3898 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Historical and Diachronic Linguistics ; Language Families

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