Linguistics and English Language

Linguistic Circle

Speaker: Maarten Mous (Leiden University)

Title: Cushitic-Bantu language contact through the centuries

Abstract: The Cushitic and Bantu languages families are unrelated but to some extend similar in their morphology. Both verbal systems are characterised by complex affixation and both noun systems show interconnectedness of gender and number. The two families have been in contact in several points in time and space in East Africa and in many different sociolinguistic situations. The outcomes of language contact are often linked to variations in language dominance in the sociolinguistic settings but not so often based on empirical observation (Thomason & Kaufman 1988, Van Coetsem 2000, Winford 2002). In my talk I present an encyclopaedia of Cushitic-Bantu language contact situations, their outcomes and their sociolinguistic profile in order examine the proposed correlations critically. These situations range from partial language shift and mixed language creation to lexical borrowing linked to modernity. (Mous 2003, Mous & Qorro 2009; Kiessling e.a. 2008, Petrollino & Mous 2010).


  • Kießling, Roland, Maarten Mous and Derek Nurse. 2008. “The Rift valley area of Central Tanzania as a linguistic contact zone” In A Linguistic Geography of Africa, ed. by Bernd Heine and Derek Nurse, pp. 186-227. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Mous, Maarten & Martha Qorro 2009. "Loanwords in Iraqw, a Cushitic language of Tanzania" In: Haspelmath, Martin & Tadmor, Uri (eds.) Loanwords in the world's languages: A comparative handbook. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter [with Martha Qorro].
  • Mous, Maarten 2003. The Making of a Mixed Language: The Case of Ma’a/Mbugu Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Petrollino, Sara and Maarten Mous 2010. Recollecting Words and Expressions in Aasá, a Dead Language in Tanzania Anthropological Linguistics 52(2): 206-216.
  • Thomason, Sarah G. and Terrence Kaufman 1988. Language contact, creolization, and genetic linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Van Coetsem, Frans 2000. A General and Unified Theory of the Transmission Process in Language Contact. Heidelberg: Winter verlag.
  • Winford, Donald 2002. An Introduction to Contact Linguistics Oxford: Blackwell.

Contact details

Dr Chris Cummins

Jun 13 2019 -

Linguistic Circle

2019-06-13: Cushitic-Bantu language contact through the centuries

Room 1.20, Dugald Stewart Building, 3 Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD