[Lingtyp] Question about helpful design of a comparative, multilectal grammar

Rasmus Bernander rasmusbernander at gmail.com
Fri Jun 15 13:02:21 UTC 2018

Dear members of the Lingtyp list,

I’m currently involved in a project called “Linguistic Variation as an
Indicator of Historical Relations and Language Contact: A Comparative
grammar of four Mara Bantu languages (Tanzania)”. The project is funded by
Koneen Säätiö and led by Dr. Lotta Aunio, Department of Languages,
University of Helsinki. As implied in the title, the project aims at
offering a linguistic description of four closely related (yet structurally
versatile) Bantu varieties, Ikoma, Nata, Isenye and Ngoreme (known
collectively as the Western Serengeti languages).  More information about
the project can be found at this homepage:

We are struggling a bit with the question about the ideal way of designing
the linguistic description. We would like to ask you ”Humans who read
grammars”, i.e. you researchers who make typological (and/or comparative
and/or specific theoretical) work and thus have great experience in reading
grammars as well as extracting information from grammars: What would you
consider being the most helpful and straightforward way to organize the
structure of a multilectal grammar of this kind? We would prefer to find a
way to systemize the data in a manner where we don’t have to prioritize one
variety over the others and where we can also present the subsystems of the
non-main varieties in a coherent way. It seems that some grammars use
color/symbol coding for different varieties. Do you consider that helpful?
Or do you have other, similar ideas on how one would succeed in creating a
really clear and comprehensible comparative grammar?

Many thanks in advance!

/Rasmus Bernander
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