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B02 - Split case marking and constituent order in East Africa

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. 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


Jun.-Prof. Dr. Alice Mitchell

Principal Investigator B02

Office: African Studies, Meister-Ekkehart-Straße 9
E-Mail: alice.mitchell(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-6936
Web: Jun.-Prof. Dr. Alice Mitchell


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


To appear

  • Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. To appear. The comparative method and language change in accretion zones: A view from the Nuba Mountains. In Na’ama Pat-El, Patience Epps & Danny Law (eds.), Historical linguistics and endangered languages: Exploring diversity in language change. London: Routledge.
  • Hellwig, Birgit. To appear. Children’s narratives in Papua New Guinea: A case study of Qaqet. In Christiane Bongartz & Jacopo Torregrossa (eds.), What’s in a narrative? Variation in story-telling at the interface between language and literacy. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
  • Hellwig, Birgit. To appear. Expressing events of directed caused accompanied motion in Qaqet. In Anna Margetts, Birgit Hellwig & Sonja Riesberg (eds.), Caused accompanied motion: Bringing and taking events in a cross-linguistic perspective. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Mitchell, Alice. To appear. Documenting difference: Interactional approaches to the documentation of special registers. In Richard Sandoval & Nicholas Williams (eds.), Interactional approaches to language documentation (Language Documentation & Conservation SP). Honolulu, Hawai’i: University of Hawai’i Press.
  • Mitchell, Alice. To appear. Phasal polarity in Barabaiga and Gisamjanga Datooga (Nilotic): Interactions with tense, aspect, and participant expectation. In Raija Kramer (ed.), The expression of phasal polarity in African Languages, 441-466. Berlin: de Gruyter.





  • 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. Language Typology and Universals 70(1). 163-194. pdf