Bantu Retention/Innovation Questionnaire (BRIQ)

The following is offered as an initial attempt to start an interactive web-based questionnaire concerning the Bantu linguistic group. Our current concerns are to determine whether certain common properties found in many, but not all Bantu languages, represent retentions from Proto-Bantu vs. innovations in certain subsets, definied either genetically or areally.

The ultimate goals are two:

  1. To refine reconstructions of the Proto-Bantu verb: its morphology, phonology, and semantics.
  2. To trace phonological, morphological, and semantic variations in present-day Bantu with the aim of subclassifying the Bantu languages from genetic and areal perspectives.
The present questionnaire is limited to a few questions concerning the Bantu verb stem. We have chosen a small number of features to be compared across the Bantu zones. These concern:
  1. Vowel systems and vowel harmony
  2. Vowel length, nasal+consonant clusters, and tone
  3. Passive and causative extensions, and tone
It is hoped that researchers working on Bantu languages will submit answers to these questions to be entered into the database, which will be immediately available to all interested parties.


This questionnaire is part of the project "Linguistic Phylogenies in the Bantu Domain", for which initial funding has been provided by the France-Berkeley Fund. It also incorporates material developed by the Comparative Bantu On-Line Dictionary (CBOLD) project, supported by the National Science Foundation. We gratefully acknowledge this support and thank the many colleagues who have contributed Bantu linguistic material in this collegial enterprise.

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