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You are here: Home / News & Events / CLS Speaker Series / Deborah Morton (Penn State) - Language Contact and Dialect Formation: Anii Dialects and History

Deborah Morton (Penn State) - Language Contact and Dialect Formation: Anii Dialects and History

When Mar 29, 2019
from 09:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Where Moore 127
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Language Contact and Dialect Formation: Anii Dialects and History


The Anii language is currently spoken on the border between Togo and Benin in West Africa, but oral histories and language evidence both suggest that the language was brought to its current location by people moving eastward from what is now Ghana. Evidence will be presented suggesting that it is unlikely that the Anii people have been in their current location for more than 500 years, perhaps less. Despite this short amount of time, there is considerable diversity in the dialects of the language in the current area, to the point that at least one dialect could be argued to be a different language altogether. In addition, the oral histories of many of the Anii villages clearly speak of multiple founding families, often from different original cultures. These source cultures are often not the same between villages. This talk will survey the historical and linguistic evidence supporting the claim that the largest source of variation between the Anii dialects is historic (and perhaps continuing) language contact, rather than inherited changes.