Professor Nancy Kula

Head of Department - Professor (R)
Department of Language and Linguistics
Professor Nancy Kula
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 874267

  • Location

    4.326, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    Mondays: 10-11 Thursdays: 11-12



Nancy studied phonology for her PhD at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, MA in Linguistics at SOAS, University of London, and BA in Linguistics at the University of Zambia. Following her PhD she held a post-doctoral position in Leiden and at SOAS for three years. Her research centrally focus on Bantu languages, particularly on phonology but also on phonology-syntax interface and morphosyntax. She has worked on many topics in phonology including nasalisation, palatalisation, spirantisation, vowel harmony, strength relations, segmental structure, syllable structure, derived environments, licensing, tone, intonation and element theory. She has published in international journals including Phonology, The Linguistic Review, Lingua, Transactions of The Philological Society, JALL, SAL, Lingusitic Analysis and is co-editor of The Continuum/Bloomsbury Companion to Phonology (2011/2013). Her research interests are in decsriptive and theoretical linguistics (morphology and phonology), Bantu Languages, endangered languages and African linguistics in general. She runs the Phonology Research Group.


  • BA Lusaka (UNZA)

  • MA London (SOAS)

  • PhD Leiden (LUCL)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Phonological Theory

Phonology-Prosody Interface

Second Language Phonology

Phonology-Syntax Interface

Bantu Languages

Tone and prosodic systems

Current research

Nancy is currently working on intonation in Bantu languages (currently focusing on Bemba) and the interaction between lexical tone and intonational tone in such systems. She is also looking at tonal change in Bantu and how this can be accounted for in contemporary phonological theory.

Conferences and presentations

Boundary tones in Bemba. Workshop on Intonation in African Languages, CALL 46, University of Leiden, 31st August 2016 (with Silke Hamann). - Presentation

Comparative evidence in the analysis of additive focus. Syntax of the Worlds Languages, University of Mexico, 17-19 August 2016 (with Lutz Marten).- Presentation

Depressor effects in Bantu (& Khoisan). East Coast Phonology Meeting, Durham, 7th July 2016 (with Xiaoxi Liu)- Presentation

Are subjects = topics in Bantu? What does intonation show? International conference on Bantu Languages 6, University of Helsinki, 20-23 June 2016.- Presentation

Phonetic and Phonological factors in L2: On the emergence of new features. 13th Old World Conference in Phonology, Budapest, 13-16 January 2016 (with Nasir Abbas).- Presentation

Intonational cues for subjects and topics in Bantu. LAGB, UCL, 15-18 September 2015- Presentation

Correlations and non-correlations between productivity, prosody, and semantics in non-accent languages, SLE 2015, 48th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics, 2-5th September 2015- Presentation

Mapping intonational cues onto lexical tones. LSSA/SAALA/SAALT, North-West University, Potchefstroom, 24-26th June 2015- Presentation

How far can a tone spread? On mutually-feeding iterativity. 23rd Manchester Phonology Meeting, 28-30th May 2015- Presentation

Can GP count? On ternary spreading domains. GPRT 2015, University of Vienna, 2nd May 2015.- Presentation

The mental representation of ternary spreading: How are derived tones processed? 12th Old World Conference in Phonology, Barcelona, 27-30th January 2015.- Presentation

Was there a super High tone in Bemba P3? CALL, 30th August 2nd September 2015- Presentation


Journal articles (25)

Kula, NC., (2017). Reduction in remoteness distinctions and reconfiguration in the Bemba past tense. Transactions of the Philological Society. 115 (1), 27-57

Hamann, S. and Kula, NC., (2015). Bemba. Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 45 (01), 61-69

Hamann, S. and Kula, NC., (2015). Bemba. Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 45 (01), 61-69

Kula, NC. and Kadenge, M., (2015). INTRODUCTION: Phonetics and Phonology in Bantu. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies. 33 (3), iii-v

Kula, NC. and Bickmore, LS., (2015). Phrasal phonology in Copperbelt Bemba. Phonology. 32 (01), 147-176

Marten, L. and Kula, NC., (2014). Benefactive and substitutive applicatives in Bemba. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics. 35 (1), 1-44

Bickmore, LS. and Kula, NC., (2013). Ternary spreading and the ocp in copperbelt bemba. Studies in African Linguistics. 42 (2), 101-132

Marten, L. and Kula, NC., (2012). Object marking and morphosyntactic variation in Bantu. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies. 30 (2), 237-253

Kula, NC., (2012). An introduction to Element Theory. PHONOLOGY. 29 (2), 337-341

Basciano, B., Kula, NC. and Melloni, C., (2011). Modes of compounding in Bantu, Romance and Chinese. Italian Journal of Linguistics. 23 (2), 203-249

Delfitto, D., Fiorin, G. and Kula, NC., (2011). Syntactic gradients in compounding: Bemba associative nominals vs. prepositional and deverbal compounds. Italian Journal of Linguistics. 23 (2), 301-325

Kula, NC., (2009). Book review: Lee Bickmore, Chilungu Phonology , CSLI Publications, University of Chicago Press, Stanford (2007).. Lingua. 119 (3), 502-506

Kula, NC., (2009). Chilungu Phonology. LINGUA. 119 (3), 502-506

Marten, L. and Kula, NC., (2008). Meanings of money: national identity and the semantics of currency in Zambia and Tanzania. Journal of African Cultural Studies. 20 (2), 183-198

Kula, NC., (2008). Derived environment effects: A representational approach. Lingua. 118 (9), 1328-1343

(2008). Trends in Prosodic Phonology. Lingua: International Review of General Linguistics. 118 (9), 1250-1428

Marten, L., Kula, NC. and Thwala, N., (2007). Parameters of morphosyntactic variation in Bantu. Transactions of the Philological Society. 105 (3), 253-338

Kula, NC. and Cheng, LL-S., (2007). Phonological and syntactic phrasing in Bemba relatives. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics. 28 (2), 123-148

Kula, NC., (2007). Effects of phonological phrasing on syntactic structure. The Linguistic Review. 24 (2-3), 201-231

Kula, NC. and Cheng, L., (2007). Phonological and Syntactic phrasing in Bemba relatives. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics. 28 (3), 123-148

Kula, NC. and Tzakosta, M., (2006). Complex structures in the acquisition of Greek: A GP and OT approach. Glossologia. 17, 111-125

Kula, NC., (2006). Licensing saturation: co-occurrence restrictions in structure. Linguistic Analysis. 32 (3-4), 366-406

Kula, NC., (2006). No initial empty CV in clusterless languages. Linguistics in the Netherlands. 23 (1), 137-149

Cheng, L. and Kula, NC., (2006). Syntactic and phonological phrasing in Bemba relatives. ZAS Papers in Linguistics. 43, 31-54

Kula, NC. and Marten, L., (2000). Constraints and Processes: Evidence from Bemba, Herero and Swahili. SOAS Working Papers in Linguistics. 10, 91-102

Books (1)

Kula, NC., Botma, B. and Nasukawa, K., (2013). Bloomsbury Companion to Phonology. Continuum Publishing Corporation. 9781441140180

Book chapters (18)

Kula, NC., (2018). Uniqueness in element signatures. In: Sonic Signatures. Editors: Lindsey, G. and Nevins, A., . Mouton de Gruyter. 9789027208316

Kula, NC. and Hamann, S., (2017). Intonation in Bemba. In: Intonation in African Tone Languages. de Gruyter Mouton. 321- 364. 9783110484793

Kula, NC. and Scheer, T., (2017). Government Phonology and Element Theory. In: Routledge Handbook of Phonological Theory. Editors: Hannahs, SJ. and Bosch, A., . Routledge. 9781138025813

Kula, NC., (2016). The conjoint/disjoint alternation and phonological phrasing in Bemba. In: The Conjoint/Disjoint Alternation in Bantu. Editors: Wal, J. and Hyman, LM., . De Gruyter. 258- 294. 9783110490831

Kula, NC., (2013). On retaining vowel colour in derived roots: blocked imbrication in Bemba. In: Bantu Languages and Linguistics: Papers in memory of Dr Rugatiri D.K Mekacha. Editors: Legere, K., . Thielmann & Breitinger. 9783939661122

Kula, NC. and Marten, L., (2011). The Prosody of Bemba Relative Clauses: A Case Study of the Syntax-Phonology Interface in Dynamic Syntax. In: The Dynamics of Lexical Interfaces. Center for the Study of Language and Information. 61- 90. 9781575866154

Kula, NC., (2011). Revisiting Final-Devoicing in the L2 Acquisition of Final Voicing Contrasts. In: Achievements and Perspectives in SLA of Speech: New Sounds 2010, Volume II. Peter Lang. 149- 158. 9783631607237

Botma, B., Kula, NC. and Nasukawa, K., (2011). Features. In: Continuum Companion to Phonology. Continuum. 33- 63. 9780826434234

Kula, NC. and Marten, L., (2010). Argument structure and agency in Bemba passives. In: Bantu Languages Analyses, Description and Theory. Editors: Legere, K. and Thornell, C., . Rudiger K�ppe Publications. 115- 130. 978-3-89645-705-9

Kula, NC. and Lutz, M., (2009). Central, East and Southern African Languages. In: One Thousand Languages. Editors: Austin, P., . Ivy Press. 86- 111. 9780520255609

Kula, NC., (2009). Opacity in Bantu: In support of the internal organisation of features. In: Proceedings of Conference on Language Documentation & Linguistic Theory. Editors: Austin, PK., Bond, O., Charette, M., Nathan, D. and Sells, P., . Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project

Costa, J. and Kula, NC., (2008). Focus at the Interface: Evidence from Romance and Bantu. In: The Bantu-Romance Connection: A Comparative Investigation of Verbal Agreement, DPs, and Information Structure. Benjamins. 293- 322. 9789027255143

Kula, NC. and Lutz, M., (2008). Zambia: 'One Zambia, One Nation, Many Languages'. In: Language and National Identity in Africa. Editors: Simpson, A., . Oxford University Press. 291- 313. 978-0-19-928675-1

Kula, NC., (2006). Lesotho language situation. In: Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics. Editors: Brown, K., . Elsevier. creators- Kula=3ANancy_C=3A=3A. 978-0-08-044854-1

Kula, NC., (2006). Zambia language situation. In: Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics vol 13. Editors: Brown, K., . Elsevier. 744- 745. 978-0-08-044854-1

Kula, NC., (2000). The Phonology-Morphology Interface: Consonant Mutations in Bemba. In: Linguistics in the Netherlands 2000. Benjamins. 171- 183

Kula, NC., (2000). The morphology-phonology interface: consonant mutations in Bemba. In: Linguistics in the Netherlands. Editors: Hoop, HD. and van der Wouden, T., . John Benjamins Publishing. 171- 183. 9789027231666

Kula, NC., (1999). On the Representation of NC Clusters in Bemba. In: Linguistics in the Netherlands 1999. Benjamins. 135- 148. 9789027231598

Reports and Papers (3)

Kula, NC. and Marten, L., (2007). Introduction to Bantu in Bloomsbury: Special Issue on Bantu Linguistics

Kula, NC. and Marten, L., (2007). Morphosyntactic co-variation in Bantu: Two case studies

Kula, NC., (2006). On derived environments in GP

Other (1)

(2011).Continuum Companion to Phonology,Continuum

Grants and funding


Tonal Change in the Evolution of a Tense System

The British Academy

A preliminary documentation of Siluyana: comparing Mbowe and Mwenyi

The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP)


African Linguistics Special 6th World Congress

The British Academy

+44 (0) 1206 874267


4.326, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

Mondays: 10-11 Thursdays: 11-12