Saturday, January 20, 2018

Syllabus: The Khoisan Languages

Here is the syllabus for the seminar (graduate, advanced undergraduate) that I am teaching this semester (Spring 2018). I also pasted it below.

I also post the syllabus for the same seminar that I taught in 1999. You can see how much
the field has grown, and how much I have learned, since then.

Seminar                                                                                                          Spring 2018
The Khoisan Languages

Time:              M, 2:00-4:45
Place:              10 WP 103

Instructor:     Professor Chris Collins
Office:             10 Washington Place, Room 411

Level:              graduate and advanced undergraduate
Prerequistes: (for undergrads) Sound and Language, Grammatical Analysis
Auditors:       Auditors are welcome, but they must participate in the presentations.

Course Description
This course is on the linguistic structure of the Khoisan languages focusing on syntax. We will start the course by discussing phonetics and transcription (including clicks, accompaniments, vowel features and tone), then for most of the course we will focus on syntax (the linker, person-gender-number markers, pronouns, serial verb constructions, pluractionality, etc.).

Course Requirements
There will usually be one reading per week, and a number of optional readings.

There will be two short assignments on transcription at the beginning of the semester (one on click transcription, the other on tone transcription).

There will be a small fieldwork component to the class. Gerdrut Hevita, a native speaker of Khoekhoe (a Khoisan language spoken in Nambia) will be at Department of Linguistics, NYU from 9:00 to 2:00 every Monday. Students may sign up to work with her in groups of two. We will arrange meeting times on the first day of class. The work that you do with her can be part of your final paper and inform your paper presentations.

We will set up a Khoisan Languages/Syntax website. The site would focus on syntactic summaries of the various Khoisan languages (e.g., basic word order of the clause and noun phrase, pronouns and other syntactic properties). Each student will contribute around 5 HTML pages plus a bibliography to the website. There are some Wikipedia pages on Khoisan languages, but they usually do not have very much syntactic information. The URL for the website is:

Each student will be responsible for presenting one paper during the semester. Preferably the students will choose papers about different languages. The presentations will be around half an hour, with 15 minutes for discussion. I would like to fit three presentations in one class period. You should send me the paper you plan to present a week ahead of time, so I can post it for the other members of the class to read. Auditors are required to do a presentation. Feel free to arrange to meet with me to discuss your presentation (not required).

Final Paper Proposal
Halfway through the semester, you will submit a proposal for your final research paper. The proposal should be around 3 pages long (double spaced). It should include a statement of the topic, some data (just a few sentences), a brief sketch of an analysis (if you have one), a plan for working on the topic (e.g., where will you find the data?), and a few references that you plan to study. Please arrange to meet with me about your paper proposal before it is due.

Final Paper
The final paper will be around 10-15 pages (double spaced). Paper topics are not restricted to syntax. Your paper could include: (a) information that you discussed in your paper presentation, (b) information that you put on your web page, (c) material that you elicited from the consultant.

Grading          Transcription assignments                   20%
                        Paper presentation                               10%
                        Website contribution                           30%
Paper Proposal                                    10%
                        Final Paper                                          30%

Course Materials
You are not required to purchase any materials for this class. All readings will be posted to Dropbox.

The schedule may be revised. The dates may change. Topics and readings may be dropped and/or added depending on our progress and the interests of the students.

Week 1:          Jan. 22            Overview of Khoisan languages, classification

Honken, Henry. 2012. Genetic Relationships: An Overview of the Evidence. In Rainer Vossen (ed.), The Khoesan Languages. Routledge, New York.

Brody, Hugh. Gazing at the Stars. Splash Films. [a short 23 minute film about the N|uu revitalization effort]

Güldemann, Tom. 2014. ‘Khoisan’ linguistic classification today. In Ton Güldemann & Anne-Maria Fehn (eds.), Beyond ‘Khoisan’. Historical relations in the Kalahari Basin, 1-40. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Hastings, Rachel. 2001. Evidence for the Genetic Unity of Souther Khoesan. In Arthur Bell and Paul Washburn (eds.), Khoisan: Syntax, Phonetics, Phonology and Contact. Cornell Working Papers in Linguistics 18, 225-246. Cornell University, Ithaca.

Herbert, Robert K. 1995. The Sociohistory of Clicks in Southern Bantu. In Rajend Mesthrie (ed.), Language and Social History, 51-67. David Philip, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Kohler, Oswin and Anthony Traill. Khoisan Languages. Enyclopedia Britannica

Week 2:          Jan. 29            Clicks and Accompaniments

            Assignment 1:            Click Transcription, Assigned Jan. 29, due Feb. 5

Nakagawa, Hiroshi. 2006. Aspects of the Phonetics and Phonological Structure of the Gǀui
Language. Doctoral dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. [Section 3.3]

Fulop, Sean and Richard Wright. To appear. Recording and Measuring Acoustic Attributes of Clicks. In Bonny Sands (ed.), The Handbook of Click Consonants.

Week 3:          Feb. 5              Tone in the Khoisan Languages,
                                                Tonal Depression in Tsua [Guest lecture by Tim Mathes],
                                                Tone Sandhi in Khoekhoe

            Mathes, Timothy K. to appear. The Interaction between Click Consonants and Tone
in Tsua. In Bonny Sands (ed.), The Handbook of Click Consonants.

Brugman, Johanna. 2009. Segments, Tones and Distribution in Khoekhoe Prosody. Doctoral dissertation, Cornell University.

Mathes, Timothy K. 2015. Consonant-Tone Interaction in the Khoisan Language Tsua. Doctoral dissertation, NYU.

Week 4:          Feb. 12            Sasi Lexicon
            Note:   Class may start at 3:30 because of syntax job talks (depending on scheduling).

            Assignment 2:           Tone Transcription, Assigned Feb. 12 due Feb. 26

            Sasi Spelling Primer    (
Collins, Chris. 2016 and Andy Chebanne. A Dictionary of Sasi. Ms., NYU

Collins, Chris and Jeffrey Gruber. 2014. A Grammar of ǂHȍã. Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.

Gerlach, Linda. 2016. N!aqriaxe: The Phonology of an Endangered Language of Botswana. Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden.
Heine, Bernd and Henry Honken. 2010. The Kx’a Family: a New Khoisan Geneology. Journal of Asian and African Studies 79, 5-36.

Week 5:          Feb. 19            No Classes [President’s Day]

Week 6:          Feb. 26            Presentations
                                                Leland Kusmer [guest lecture]

Week 7:          Mar. 5             The Linker in Khoisan

Due:    Choose language for website. Include short description and some references (1 page
double spaced)

Collins, Chris. 2017. The Linker in the Khoisan Languages. Africa’s Endangered
Languages: Documentary and Theoretical Approaches. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Baker, Mark and Chris Collins. 2006. Linkers and the Internal Structure of vP. Natural
Language and Linguistic Theory 24: 307-354.

Collins, Chris. 2003. The Internal Structure of vP in Juǀ’Hoãsi and ǂHoã. Studia
Linguistica 57: 1-25.

Konig, Christa and Bernd Heine. 2010. Are there Ditransitive Verbs in !Xun? In Malchukov, Andrej L., Martin Haspelmath and Bernard Comrie (eds.), Studies in Ditransitive Constructions: A Comparative Handbook, 1-42. Mouton De Gruyter, Berlin.

Week 8:          Mar. 12           No Classes [Spring Recess]

Week 9:          Mar. 19           The Linker in Khoisan (cont.),
                                                Pronouns in N|uu

            Due:    Paper proposal (three pages double spaced)

Collins, Chris. 2014. Click Pronouns in Nǀuu. Ms., NYU.

Collins, Chris. 2004. The Absence of the Linker in Double Object Constructions in Nǀuu.
Studies in African Linguistics 33: 163-198.

Ernszt, Martina, Alena Witzlack-Makarevich & Tom Güldemann. 2015. Valency in N||ng. In Andrej Malchukov and Bernard Comrie (eds.), Valency Classes in the World's Languages. Vol. 1: Introducing the Framework, and Case Studies from Africa and Eurasia, 185-220. De Gruyter Mouton, Berlin.

Week 10:        Mar. 26           Presentations

Week 11:        Apr. 2             Person Gender Number (PGN) Markers: Kua

Collins, Chris and Andy Chebanne. 2016. A Grammar of Kua. Ms., NYU and University of  Botswana. [chapters on PGN markers]

Week 12:        Apr. 9             Person Gender Number (PGN) Markers: Central Khoisan

Hagman, Roy S. 1977. Nama Hottentot Grammar. Indiana University, Bloomington.

Fehn, Anne-Maria. 2014. A Grammar of Ts’ixa. University of Koln.

Güldemann, Tom. 2004. Reconstruction through ‘de-construction’: the Marking of Person, Number, and Gender in the Khoe Family and Kwadi. Diachronica 21, 251-306.

Heine, Bernd. 1997. On Gender Agreement in Central Khoisan. Khoisan Forum 4, 5-29.

Kilian-Hatz, Christa and Bernd Heine. 1997. On Nominal Gender Marking in Kxoe. Khoisan Forum 1, 7-25.

Week 13:        Apr. 16           Presentations

Week 14:        Apr. 23           Plurality and Pluractionality in ǂHoan
                                                (including suppletive verbal plurals)

Collins, Chris. 2001. Aspects of Plurality in ǂHoan. Language 77, 456-476.

Collins, Chris and Henry Honken. 2016. The Plural Prefix in Kx’a, ǃUi and Taa. In Sheena Shah and Matthias Brenzinger (eds.), Khoisan Languages and Lingusitics, Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium, pgs. 27 - 51. Rüdiger Köppe Verlag (with Henry Honken) (

Dickens, Patrick and Anthony Traill. 1977. Collective and Distributive in !Xoo. In Anthony Traill (ed.), Khoisan Linguistics Studies 3. African Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Week 15:        Apr. 30           Serial Verb Constructions

Collins, Chris. 2002. Multiple Verb Movement in ǂHoan. Linguistic Inquiry 33.1, 1-29.

Berthold, Falko & Linda Gerlach. 2017. Serial verb constructions in N!aqriaxe. In Anne-Maria Fehn (ed.), Khoisan Languages and Linguistics: Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium July 11-13, 2011, Riezlern/Kleinwalsertal. (Quellen zur Khoisan-Forschung, 36), 157-183. Rüdiger Köppe, Cologne.

Haacke, Wilfrid. 2014. Verb serialisation in northern dialects of Khoekhoegowab: Convergence or divergence? In Tom Güldemann and Anne-Maria Fehn (ed.), Beyond 'Khoisan': Historical Relations in the Kalahari Basin, 125-151. John Benjamins, Amsterdam.

Kießling, Roland. 2013. Verbal serialisation in Taa (Southern Khoisan). In Alena Witzlack-Makarevich and Martina Ernszt (eds.), Khoisan Languages and Linguistics (Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium July 6-10, 2008, Riezlern/Kleinwalsertal). (Quellen zur Khoisan-Forschung / Research in Khoisan Studies, 29), 33-60. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe.

Kilian-Hatz, Christa. 2006. Serial verb constructions in Khwe (Central-Khoisan). In A.Y. Aikhenvald and R.M.W. Dixon (eds.), Serial Verb Constructions: A Cross-Linguistic Typology, 108-123. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

König, Christa. 2010. Serial verb constructions in !Xun. In Matthias Brenzinger and Christa König (eds.), Khoisan Languages and Linguistics: Proceedings of the 1st International Symposium January 4-8, 2003, Riezlern/Kleinwalsertal. (Quellen zur Khoisan-Forschung, 24), 144-175. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe.

Sebba, Mark. 1995. Some remarks on Ju|'hoan serial verbs. In Anthony Traill, Rainer Vossen and Megan Biesele (eds.), The complete linguist: papers in memory of Patrick J. Dickens, pp 363-370. Afrikanische Sprachen und Kulturen. Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Köln.

Rapold, Christian. 2014. Areal and inherited aspects of compound verbs in Khoekhoe. In Tom Güldemann and Anne-Maria Fehn (eds.), Beyond 'Khoisan': Historical Relations in the Kalahari Basin, 152-177. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Week 16:        May 7             Wrap-Up
            Due:    Final paper due on May 7

Additional Topics
Word Order (information structure, prosody)
Daglish, Gerard. 1979. Subject Identification Strategies and Free Word Order: The Case of Sandawe. Studies in African Linguistics 10, 273-310.

Dobashi, Yoshi. 2003. Phonological Phrasing and Syntactic Derivation. Doctoral dissertation, Cornell. [Chapter 4 discusses Sandawe]

Hahn, Michael. 2013. Word Order Variation in Khoekhoe.  In Stefan Müller (ed.), Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar, 48-68. CLSI Publications, Stanford, CA.

Letsholo, Rose and Budzani G. Mogara. 2016. Constituent Order and Focus in Naro Language. Journal of Education, Humanities and Sciences 5, 1-18.

Letsholo, Rose and Isaac Saul. 2015. A Comparison of the Interaction of Pronominals and Word Order in Naro and G||ana. Language Matters 46, 222-248.

Witzlack-Makarevich, Alena. 2006. Aspects of Information Structure in Richtersveld Nama. University of Leipzig.

Noun Class Systems of Non-Central Khoisan
Güldemann, Tom. 2000. Noun Categorization Systems in Non-Khoe Lineages of Khoisan. AAP 63, 5-33.

Honken, Henry. 2013. The semantic organization of noun classes in Juǀ’hoan and its link to number. In Alena Witzlack-Makarevich and Martina Ernszt (eds.), Khoisan Languages and Linguistics (Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium July 6-10, 2008, Riezlern/Kleinwalsertal). (Quellen zur Khoisan-Forschung / Research in Khoisan Studies, 29), 83-100. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe.

Honken, Henry. 2016. Gender assignment rules in Juǀ’hoan and !Xóõ. In Rainer Vossen and Wilfrid H. G. Haacke (eds.), Lone Tree: Scholarship in the Service of the Koon, Essays in Memory of Anthony T. Traill, 237-257. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe.

Kießling, Roland. 2008. Noun Classification in !Xoon. In Sonja Ermisch (ed.), Khoisan Languages and Linguistics: Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium January 8-12, 2006, Riezlern/Kleinwalsertal. (Quellen zur Khoisan-Forschung Band 22), 225-248. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe.

Relative Clauses
Dickens, Patrick J[ohn]. 1997. Relative clauses in Ju|'hoan. In Wilfrid H.G. Haacke and Edward D. Elderkin (eds.), Namibian Languages: Reports and Papers. Namibian African Studies, vol 4, 107-116.  Rüdiger Köppe Verlag for the University of Namibia. Cologne.

Lionnet, Florian. 2014. Demonstrative and Relative Constructions in Ju: A Diachronic Account. In Tom Guldemann and Anne-Maria Fehn (eds.), Beyond ‘Khoisan’: Historical Linguistic Relations in the Kalahari Basin. Current Issues in Linguistic Theory (CILT 330), 181-209. Benjamins, Amsterdam.

Question Formation
Hoymann, Gertie. 2010. Questions and Responses in ǂĀkhoe Hai||om. Journal of Pragmatics, 42, 2726-2740.

Letsholor, Rose M. 2016. Question Formation in ǁGana, a Khoesan language. Linguistique et langues Africaines, Revue scientifique du LLACAN 2, 76-94.

Electronic Resources
The Digitial Bleek and Lloyd
Kalahari Basin Area
ǂKhomani San

Ju|'hoan Audio & Video Material 1970 to Present: A Work in Progress

Dictionary of Korana (!Ora), a South African Khoesan language of the KHOE family

Ernst Westphal
Khoekhoe and San Research Network Page

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