Sam A. Mchombo
syntax, African linguistic structures, Swahili
Group: Syntax & Semantics
Office: (Eff: 1/1/2010 transfered to African American Studies)
Personal statementPh.D., Linguistics, University of London, 1978. He held an appointment as a Senior Lecturer in Chichewa and Linguistics at the University of Malawi in East Africa, where he pioneered the Department of African Languages and Linguistics. In 1984, he travelled to the United States under the auspices of the Fulbright Foundation as a Visiting Scholar at MIT and Stanford University. In the Fall of that year, he held an appointment as a postdoctoral fellow at MIT sponsored by the Systems Development Foundation. In the Spring of 1985, he was appointed as Lecturer in Linguistics at San Jose State University, and in the Summer of 1988, he came to Berkeley. His research centers on the morphological and syntactic structure of Bantu languages of Africa and the relevance of that to the formalization of grammatical theory. Beginning with work done for his doctoral degree and pursued in subsequent publications he has been involved in advancing a lexical theory of grammar and has played a major role in advancing work on the theory of Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG). He is currently working on the syntax and semantics of reciprocal constructions in Bantu. This project is part of an effort to initiate research into the logical structure of Bantu languages and to investigate the nature of the relation between morphosyntax and semantics. He has also recently focused on aspects of political developments in Southern Africa. He has written on the democratic transition in Malawi, the role of the media in fostering democracy in Southern Africa, the role of women in building democracy, as well as on issues of national identity and the politics of language in Southern Africa.
Selected publications"Theoretical Aspects of Bantu Grammar". In Center for the Study of Language and Information, editor Sam Mchombo, 1993.
"The Syntax and Semantics of the Reciprocal Construction in Ci-Yao". With A. Ngunga. In Linguistic Analysis, 24:3-31, 1994.
"What do Reciprocals Mean". With M. Dalrymple, M. Kanazawa and S. Peters. In Proceedings of the Fourth Semantics and Linguistic Theory Conference: SALT IV, edited by M. Harvey and L. Santelman, Rochester, NY, May 1994
"The Lexical Integrity Principle: Evidence from Bantu". With J. Bresnan. In Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 13:181-254, 1995.
"Reciprocal Expressions and the Concept of Reciprocity". In Linguistics & Philosophy 21. With Mary Dalrymple, Makoto Kanazawa, Yookyung Kim, and Stanley Peters. 1998.
"The Democratic Transition in Malawi: Its roots and prospects." In Coping with Ambiguity: Political Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa in the Late 20th Cenurty. (Edited by Jean-Germain Gros). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. 1998.