Prof. Rebecca Grollemund Earns NSF Grant

Rebecca Grollemund, Assistant Professor of Linguistics, has received a $420,183 grant from the National Science Foundation to support her research project "Continuity and divergence in Cameroonian languages: New perspectives on the Bantu genesis." Professor Grollemund's co-PI is Guanyu Hu from MU's Department of Statistics, and she will also be joined by postdoctoral fellow Braden Brown.

The Bantu Expansion is considered to be the most influential event in African history where 5,000 years ago, Bantu-speaking populations from the Grassfields region in current-day southern Cameroon started to migrate and spread in central, eastern and southern Africa. Modern-day Cameroon therefore constitutes a key area for understanding the first steps of this great Bantu Expansion. This area is known to be linguistically extremely heterogenous, and the languages spoken near the Bantu cradle display unique linguistic features. This project focuses on the study of these salient linguistic features by compiling the first database of lexical and non-lexical linguistic data (phonology, morphology and syntax) of Cameroonian languages (‘CAMOID’). Computational and phylogenetic methods applied to these new linguistic data will provide a better understanding of the origin and the causes of this linguistic divergence. Additionally, the collection and analysis of these different types of linguistic data will sharpen our understanding of how language in general is evolving and will elucidate the different rates of evolution of different components of language.

Congratulations, Rebecca!