Bantu and Khoisan Lab Phonology

Workshop at ICL 20

Organizers: Aaron Braver <> and Will Bennett <>.
Abstract submission:

About the workshop

The aim of this workshop is to showcase cutting edge “laboratory phonology” approaches to Bantu and Khoe-San languages—the two indigenous African language groups endemic to South Africa, the host country of ICL 20.

Phonetic and phonological studies of Southern African languages have a long and illustrious  history. Since Doke’s (1923) pioneering X-ray study of posterior constrictions in Zulu clicks, linguists studying the phonetics and phonology of Bantu and Khoe-San languages  have employed and innovated instrumental and “laboratory” approaches to get at phonetic and phonological questions.  We propose a workshop to celebrate this history, highlighting the recent resurgence in quantitative, instrumental, and experimental studies in phonetics and phonology more generally.

Recent work in this area has taken many forms.  For example, Jessen & Roux (2002) provide a detailed acoustic analysis of voicing quality in Xhosa stops and clicks; Myers (2003) uses a similar method to probe questions of tone realization in Kinyarwanda. Amanda Miller and colleagues (2009) use ultrasound to investigate the articulatory characteristics of clicks in N|uu, while Lee-Kim, Kawahara & Lee (2014) use a similar method to study whistled fricatives in Xitsonga. Proctor et al. (2016) use MRI to study click production in Khoekhoe in  real-time. Other work takes an experimental approach to quantify reported generalizations. For example, Bennett & Braver (2015) use a wug-test paradigm to test the productivity of labial palatalization in Xhosa, and Zeller, Zerbian & Cook (2016) use a production experiment to bring prosodic evidence to bear on syntactic structure. Experimental studies of both sorts are increasingly common in research done and published in Africa: a recent special volume of South African Linguistics and Applied Language Studiescontains several laboratory phonology papers, including an  experimental assessment of siSwati mid vowel assimilation (Malambe 2015) and  production and perception experiments on tone spread in Bemba (Kula and Braun  2015).


Call for abstracts

The deadline for abstracts has been extended to August 31, 2017.

We seek papers that bring instrumental, quantitative, or experimental methods to bear on data from Bantu and/or Khoe-San languages. The workshop welcomes papers that feature novel data collected in the lab or in the field, as well as fresh  analytical approaches to existing data or corpora. Potential topics include (but are not limited to):
•    Perception and production experiments
•    Acoustic or articulatory studies of phonetic or phonological patterns
•    Studies of prosody and the syntax-phonology-phonetics relationship
•    Quantitative analysis of corpus data
•    Effects of frequency on phonetic and phonological measures
•    Wug tests or other experimental approaches to morphology

Abstract guidelines

Abstracts may be between 200–350 words, and are text-only—no images, diagrams, or formatting are allowed by the submission system.  Per ICL guidelines, abstracts will only be accepted in English.

For full ICL abstract guidelines, see

Abstract submission

Abstracts can be submitted until 31 August 2017 via

To submit your abstract:

  • Create a new account at the submission website
  • Enter your contact information first, then new tabs will appear at the top of the page
  • Go to "abstract submission" and fill in all appropriate information.
    • Be sure to indicate whether you would like an oral presentation, poster presentation, or would accept either
    •  Under "abstract theme", select "1 day workshop - Bantu and Khoisan Lab Phonology"
  • Be sure to go to the "Final check" and "Submit" tabs on the left.  Check the box to agree to terms, and hit "submit"