News: Linguistics Invited Speaker, Dr. Marjorie Pak, Introduces Native Language of Lulogooli

Marjorie Pak

Posted March 5, 2019

Dr. Marjorie Pak and her colleagues are teaching a course at Emory University in which they pay an Atlanta-based Kenyan-American to provide insight into her native language of Lulogooli.  During those consultations, Dr. Pak has noticed some interesting facts about how negation ("not") is expressed in Lulogooli: there are several different words for negation, and the system seems to be changing rapidly over time.  Dr. Pak came to Georgia Tech on Friday, February 22, to share her findings with School of Modern Languages students.

More broadly, across languages, negation markers tend to shift over time, in a process known as "Jesperson's Cycle".  As a more familiar example, the French negation "ne....pas" historically involved only the word "ne", with "pas" added for emphasis; but over time, "pas" became the true marker of negation and "ne" became redundant and optional.  In Lulogooli, a similar process seems to be taking place, with multiple different negation markers co-occurring redundantly and patterning differently in older texts compared to the present day.

In sum, Dr. Pak introduced students to the idea of fieldwork on under-studied languages (possible in a global city of immigrants such as Atlanta!) and revealed interesting patterns across languages and across time in the expression of negation ("not").

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