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B02 - Split ergativity in Tima

The project first investigates split ergativity in Tima from a synchronic perspective, paying special attention to topicality, focus, verb semantics and tense/aspect. Subsequently, we adopt a diachronic perspective on the development of split ergativity, comparing the argument structures of cognate verb roots, as well as the distribution of cognate derivational morphology and prepositions in Tima and Katla/Julut. This perspective allows for a close cooperation with B03 with regard to changes in prominence relations.

See list of publications



Prof. Dr. Gerrit J. Dimmendaal

Principal Investigator B02 and B03

Office: Afrikanistik, Meister-Ekkehart-Straße 7
E-mail: gerrit.dimmendaal(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-5762
Web: Prof. Dr. Gerrit J. Dimmendaal


Prof. Dr. Birgit Hellwig

Principal Investigator B02

Office: Allg. Sprachwissenschaft, Meister-Ekkehart-Straße 7
E-mail: bhellwig(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-3889
Web: Prof. Dr. Birgit Hellwig


Dr. Gertrud Schneider-Blum

Postdoc B02

Office: SFB, Luxemburger Str. 299, room 2.10
E-mail: schneider_blum(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-89906
Web: Dr. Gertrud Schneider-Blum


Tatjana Schnellinger

Student assistant B02

Office: SFB, Luxemburger Str. 299, room 2.10
E-mail: tschnel2(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-89906

List of publications

In print

  • Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. In print. Comparative linguistics and language change in accretion zones: A view from the Nuba Mountains. In Na’ama Pat-El, Patience Epps and Danny Law (eds.), Historical Linguistics and Endangered Languages: Exploring diversity in language change. London: Routledge. 


  • Dimmendaal, Gerrit J., Colleen Ahland, Angelika Jakobi & Constance Kutsch Lojenga. 2019. Linguistic features and typologies in languages commonly referred to as ‘Nilo-Saharan’. In Ekkehard Wolff (ed.), Cambridge Handbook of African Languages, 326-381. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Hellwig, Birgit. 2019. Linguistic diversity, language documentation and psycholinguistics: The role of stimuli. In Aimée Lahaussois & Marine Vuillermet (eds.), Methodological tools for linguistic description and typology (Language Documentation and Conservation SP 16), 5-30.
  • Hellwig, Birgit. 2019. Grammatical relations in Katla. In Alena Witzlack-Makarevich & Balthasar Bickel (eds.), Argument selectors: New perspectives on grammatical relations (Typological Studies in Language), 511-531. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


  • Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. 2018. Historical linguistics in an African context: A brief state of the art. In Augustine Agwuele and Adams Bodomo (eds.), Routledge Handbook of African Linguistics, 33-54. London: Routledge. 
  • Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. 2018. On stable and unstable features in Nilo-Saharan. In Helga Schröder and Prisca Jerono (eds.), Nilo-Saharan Issues and Perspectives, 9-23. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe.
  • Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. 2018. Reconstructing Proto-Katloid and deconstructing Kordofanian. In Schneider-Blum, Gertrud, Birgit Hellwig & Gerrit J. Dimmendaal (eds.), Nuba Mountain Language Studies: New Insights, 383-415. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe. 
  • Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. & Gertrud Schneider-Blum. 2018. Transitivity in Tima. In Rose-Juliet Anyanwu (ed.), Transitivity in African languages, Frankfurter Afrikanistische Blätter, Jahrgang 2014, Band 26, 125-146. Köln: Supplement Rüdiger Köppe.
  • Hellwig, Birgit. 2018. Verbal derivation in Katla: The comitative. In Schneider-Blum, Gertrud, Birgit Hellwig & Gerrit J. Dimmendaal (eds.), Nuba Mountain Language Studies: New Insights, 209-232. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe.
  • Schneider-Blum, Gertrud. 2018. Constituent focus and selective marking in Tima. In Schneider-Blum, Gertrud, Birgit Hellwig & Gerrit J. Dimmendaal (eds.). Nuba Mountain Language Studies: New Insights, 255-279. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe.
  • Schneider-Blum, Gertrud & Birgit Hellwig. 2018. Reference tracking in Tima and its interplay with split ergative marking. Studies in Language 42 (2), 970-993. 
  • Schneider-Blum, Gertrud, Birgit Hellwig & Gerrit J. Dimmendaal (eds.). 2018. Nuba Mountain Language Studies: New Insights. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe.
  • Veit, Nataliya. 2018. The verbal derivational morpheme -aa in Tima. In Schneider-Blum, Gertrud, Birgit Hellwig & Gerrit J. Dimmendaal (eds.). Nuba Mountain Language Studies: New Insights, 233-254. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe.


  • Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. 2017. Areal contact in Nilo-Saharan. In Raymond Hickey (ed.), Cambridge Handbook of Areal Linguistics, 446-470. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Schneider-Blum, Gertrud. 2017. Once or more often? On pluractionality marking in Tima. In Language Typology and Universals 70 (1). 163-194. pdf