A historiography of Kikongo language studies and management (1624-1960)

Een historiografie van Kikongo taalstudies en beheer (1624-1960)
Start - End 
2023 - 2026 (ongoing)
Department of Languages and Cultures
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Research Region 
Research Language 
Research Methodology 
Additional tags 
History of colonial linguistics



This project sets out to provide a historiography of Kikongo language studies and management between 1624 and 1960. It will provide a detailed analysis and historical contextualization of linguistic sources from this period in the framework of colonial and missionary linguistics. The main goals are (1) to critically evaluate colonial and missionary linguistic work on Kikongo language varieties as data sources for modern historical-comparative linguistic research through investigations of their prescriptive or descriptive status, their authors, and conditions of production, and (2) to study the recent history of Kikongo language varieties with particular attention to the impact of Kikongo language studies and management on linguistic realities. While in historical research, source criticism is a crucial part of the methodology, it is common practice in historical-comparative African linguistics to use colonial and missionary documents as unquestioned data sources without critical examination. This study aims to improve the scattered state of knowledge on this issue specifically for sources on Kikongo languages. The project will capitalize on the extensive Kikongo documentation produced by colonial and missionary agents, unique for historiographic and historical- comparative studies on Bantu languages due to the time depth starting in the 17th century.