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Using a diachronic corpus of Yoruba press: examples of syntactic change

Date: September 10, 2012
Place: Draper’s Hall, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan
Time: 4.30-6.00 pm

 This presentation intends to show the kind of studies that can be done using a large corpus of words used in the Yoruba-speaking press over a period of 80 years. After a presentation of a 400,000 words corpus used for this study, we shall illustrate how one can make use of it. Two different studies will serve as examples:
1) How the frequency of the different uses of the form pẹ̀lú (stand-alone verb ‘be with’, first term of a serial verb construction ‘with’, preposition ‘with’, adverb ‘also’) can help testing the hypothesis of a grammaticalisation
2) a study of the occurrences of the form bí/bíi through the corpus, and whether this can bring some clues about its origin/evolution.

Nicolas Aubry learned Yoruba at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO), Paris. He specialized in linguistics and his doctoral thesis looked at changes in Yoruba syntax over time, using a 400,000 words diachronic corpus of Yoruba newspapers from the 1930s. He is currently a Senior lecturer in Yoruba grammar and linguistics at INALCO.

[Nicolas Aubry. Changements syntaxiques dans le yorùbá de la presse (1930-2010) : traitement automatique d’un corpus diachronique et analyse des résultats. Thèse de Doctorat, INALCO, 2010. See

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Institute of African Studies
University of Ibadan
Ibadan, Oyo State
+234 (0)8.147.616.463