By Bert Remijsen & Otto Gwado Ayoker
This special publication of Language Documentation & Conservation presents descriptive analyses on topics in the grammar of Shilluk, a Nilo Saharan language spoken primarily in South Sudan. A salient characteristic of Shilluk is that it is rich in fusional morphology. That is, stem-internal changes, particularly in terms of tone and vowel length, have a high functional load in the paradigms of verbs and nouns. From 2008 onwards, we have built up a detailed understanding of these contrasts and their role in the grammar. Accountability is a central concern in documentary and descriptive linguistics, and it is one that has determined the design of this publication in various ways. One way we are ensuring that our description is accountable is by including sound examples. We do this because the phenomena themselves are sounds; transcriptions based on the sounds are hypotheses. Aside from making the work more accountable, sound examples embedded in publications make the phenomena more accessible, reducing the threshold between the reader and an unfamiliar language.
This grammar represents a long-term project. It will be published in instalments.