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Laura Downing


Laura Downing
African languages and linguistics
+46 31 786 5263

Room number: D428B
Postal Address: Box 200, 40530 Göteborg
Visiting Address: Lundgrensgatan 1B , 41256 Göteborg

Department of Languages & Literatures (More Information)
Box 200
405 30 Göteborg
Visiting Address: Lundgrensgatan 1B , 412 56 Göteborg

About Laura Downing

  • Function: Researcher, teacher


Laura J. Downing earned her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1990, writing her dissertation under Charles W. Kisseberth on Problems in Jita Tonology.

From 1990-2001 she held visiting lecturer positions at the University of Michigan, UC-San Diego, UBC, the University of Illinois, UC-Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania.

From 2001-2012 she was a research fellow and project leader at the ZAS in Berlin, where her work concentrated on the focus-syntax-prosody interface in Bantu languages, especially Chewa, Tumbuka and Zulu.

Laura Downing has been awarded a Professor-II position at the Dept. of Language and Linguistics, University of the Arctic, UiTromsø, Norway, for 1 August 2015 through 31 December 2019.


Laura J. Downing's research interests center on the formal analysis of the prosody of African languages, including prosodic morphology, lexical tone systems and phrasal prosody.

Her work has been supported by grants from the NSF (UC-Berkeley), the NWO (Guest research fellowship, University of Leiden) and the DFG (BantuPsyn project).

These grants (and funding from the ZAS) have supported field work trips to Zimbabwe and Malawi.

From 2016-2019 she has led a research project on Somali and prosodic typology funded by the Swedish Vetenskapsrådet.

She is on the editorial boards of Phonology and of Africana Linguistica, and on the Steering Committees of the Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL) and of the Manchester Phonology Meeting.

Latest publications

(In)Direct reference in the phonology-syntax interface under phase theory: a response to Modular PIC
Eulàlia Bonet, Lisa L.-S. Cheng, Laura J. Downing, Joan Mascaró
Linguistic Inquiry, Journal article 2019
Journal article

Tumbuka prosody: Between tone and stress
Laura J. Downing
Theory and description in African Linguistics: Selected papers from the 47th Annual Conference on African Linguistics., Berlin, Language Science Press, Chapter in book 2019
Chapter in book

Clausal morphosyntax and information structure
Laura J. Downing, Lutz Marten
The Bantu Languages / edited by Mark Van de Velde, Koen Bostoen, Derek Nurse, and Gérard Philippson, New York, Routledge, Chapter in book 2019
Chapter in book

Optimality Theory and Prosodic Morphology
Laura J. Downing
The Oxford Handbook on Morphological Theory / edited by Jenny Audring and Francesca Masini , New York, Oxford University Press, Chapter in book 2019
Chapter in book

The phonetics of NCh in Tumbuka and its implications for diachronic change.
Laura J. Downing, Silke Hamann
Papers in Historical Phonology, Magazine article 2018
Magazine article

Differential object marking in Chichewa
Laura J. Downing
The Diachronic Typology of Differential Argument Marking / Ilja A. Seržant & Alena Witzlack-Makarevich (eds.), Berlin, Language Science Press, Chapter in book 2018
Chapter in book

The Phonology of Chichewa
Laura J. Downing, Al Mtenje
Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press, Book 2017

Convergence of prosody under contact: two African case studies
Laura J. Downing
Språkens magi: Festskrift for Ingmar Söhrman / edited by Andrea Castro & Anton Granvik, Ester Fernández Incógnito, Sara LIndblad, Andreas Romeborn & Katharina Vajta, Göteborg, Göteborgs universitet, Institutionen för språk och litterarturer, Chapter in book 2017
Chapter in book

Grounding Nguni depressor effects
Laura J. Downing
Segmental Structure and Tone / edited by Wolfgang Kehrein, Björn Köhnlein, Paul Boersma and Marc van Oostendorp, Berlin; Boston, Walter de Gruyter, Chapter in book 2017
Chapter in book

Showing 51 - 51 of 51


The tonal phonology of Jita
Laura J. Downing
Munich, LINCOM EUROPA, Book 1996

Showing 51 - 51 of 51

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