Verb classification in Gújjolaay Eegimaa (Atlantic, Niger-Congo)
Dr Serge Sagna
Period of award
October 2012 - September 2015
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Research in Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Linguistics has shown that categorisation is a mental process by which humans organise entities and their experience. Such mental categorisation is reflected in some languages by grouping nouns (names of entities) into classes. The goal of this project is to contribute to research in cognitive sciences by investigating the categorisation of actions, events and states in Gújjolaay Eegimaa, an Atlantic, Niger Congo language spoken in southern Senegal by some 10,000 people. This research aims at showing that Eegimaa also has unusual strategies for categorising actions, event and states in speakers’ lives, by grouping nonfinite verbs (the equivalent of English infinitives) into classes. To investigate the categorisation strategies with verbs and their correlations with noun categorisations in Eegimaa, I will carry out fieldwork during which he will collaborate with speakers to collect data through experiments, elicitation (asking questions to speakers), participant observation, and by examining language material from dirge songs, narratives and conversations. Material from his research will be used to produce manuals on health issues to contribute to the on-going literacy programme, and translate school material for children. This will contribute to the revitalisation of the Eegimaa language.