Professor Nancy Kula

Executive Dean (Social Sciences) - Professor (R)
Department of Language and Linguistics
Professor Nancy Kula
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 872690

  • Location

    2.605, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    Thursdays 10-12



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

Open to supervise

Phonology-Prosody Interface

Open to supervise

Second Language Phonology

Open to supervise

Phonology-Syntax Interface

Open to supervise

Bantu Languages

Open to supervise

Tone and prosodic systems

Open to supervise

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

Developing an areal view of intonation in Eastern Bantu

Invited presentation, Keynote presentation, Linguistics Association of SADC Countries Conference, 5/8/2019

Local and global intonational effects in some Bantu languages

Keynote presentation, Tone and Intonation in Europe (TIE 2018), Gothenburg, Sweden, 12/10/2018

Unexpected Nasal Effects

Keynote presentation, RFP 2018: 16èmes Rencontres du Réseau Français de Phonologie (16th annual conference of the French Phonology Network), Université Paris 8, Paris, France, 28/6/2018

Mental Representation of Tonal Spreading in Bemba

Keynote presentation, Tonal Aspects of Languages (TAL) 2018, Berlin, Germany, 19/6/2018

Prosodic marking of focus and blurring phonology/morphology in conjoint-disjoint marking

Keynote presentation, Association of Contemporary African Linguistics (ACAL 2018), East Lansing, United States, 23/3/2018

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

Leiden, Netherlands, 2016

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

Mexico City, Mexico, 2016

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

Durham, United Kingdom, 2016

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

Helsinki, Finland, 2016

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

Budapest, Hungary, 2016

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

London, United Kingdom, 2015

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

Leiden, Netherlands, 2015

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

Potchefstroom, South Africa, 2015

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

Manchester, United Kingdom, 2015

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

Vienna, Austria, 2015

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

Barcelona, Spain, 2015

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


Teaching and supervision

Previous supervision

Mohammed Saleh Alftayeh
Mohammed Saleh Alftayeh
Thesis title: The Syntax of Negative Polarity Items in Syrian Arabic Based on the Dialect of Deir Ezzor
Degree subject: Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 16/9/2022
Huda Ahmed A Al Taisan
Huda Ahmed A Al Taisan
Thesis title: Velar, Uvular and Pharyngeal Alternations in Hasawi Arabic: A Harmonic Serialism Optimality Theoretic Approach
Degree subject: Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 23/3/2022
Zilpah Saul Ombijah
Zilpah Saul Ombijah
Thesis title: Intonation in Luo
Degree subject: Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 3/11/2020
Majed Abdullah M Alzhrani
Majed Abdullah M Alzhrani
Thesis title: Stress and Epenthesis in Alatawalah Arabic: Classical Versus Stratal Ot
Degree subject: Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 23/7/2020
Xiaoxi Liu
Xiaoxi Liu
Thesis title: An Element Geometry Approach to Depressors in Bantu & Chinese
Degree subject: Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 25/6/2020
Demah Aamer Y Alqahtani
Demah Aamer Y Alqahtani
Thesis title: Phonology-Morphology Interaction in Abha Arabic: Vowel Processes in Stratal Optimality Theory
Degree subject: Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 20/5/2020
Akihiko Sato
Akihiko Sato
Thesis title: Japanese Learners' Recognition of English Vowel Phonemes
Degree subject: Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 9/12/2019
Moftah AS Bobaker
Moftah AS Bobaker
Thesis title: Stress and Syncope in Tobruq Arabic an Eastern Libyan Dialect: A Stratal Ot Account.
Degree subject: Applied Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 25/3/2019
Unaisa Khir Eldeen
Unaisa Khir Eldeen
Thesis title: But and its Arabic Counterparts: A Relevance Theoretic Account
Degree subject: Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 6/7/2018
Abeer Saleh A Alsulami
Abeer Saleh A Alsulami
Thesis title: Comparative Constructions in Modern Standard Arabic (Msa): An Hpsg Approach
Degree subject: Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 28/6/2018
Ahmad Samir D Alotaibi
Ahmad Samir D Alotaibi
Thesis title: The Copula in Arabic: Description and Analysis
Degree subject: Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 17/1/2018
Naledi Naomi Kgolo
Naledi Naomi Kgolo
Thesis title: The Mental Representation of Setswana Deverbative Nouns: A Psycholinguistic Analysis of Class 1 and 9 Nominalisations
Degree subject: Psycholinguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 13/1/2015
Nasir Abbas Rizvi Syed
Nasir Abbas Rizvi Syed
Thesis title: The Acquisition of English Consonants By Pakistani Learners
Degree subject: Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 18/2/2013


Journal articles (33)

Kula, N. and Syed, N., Non-myopic nasal spreading in Saraiki. Radical: A Journal of Phonology. 1, 126-172

Kula, N., Why should voiceless aspirates cause depression in Nguni?. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus

Costley, T., Kula, N. and Marten, L., (2023). Translanguaging Spaces and Multilingual Public Writing in Zambia: Tracing change in the linguistic landscape of Ndola on the Copperbelt. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 44 (9), 773-793

Reilly, C., Costley, T., Gibson, H., Kula, N., Bagwasi, M., Dikosha, D., Mmolao, P., Mwansa, J., Mwandia, M., Mapunda, G. and James, E., (2023). Emerging principles for researching multilingually in linguistic ethnography: Reflections from Botswana, Tanzania, the UK, and Zambia. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 44 (8), 689-701

Reilly, C., Bagwasi, MM., Costley, T., Gibson, H., Kula, NC., Mapunda, G. and Mwansa, J., (2022). ‘Languages don’t have bones, so you can just break them’: rethinking multilingualism in education policy and practice in Africa. Journal of the British Academy. 10 (s4), 1-20

Kula, N. and Mwansa, JM., (2022). Learning literacy in a familiar language: Comparing reading and comprehension competence in Bemba in two contrasting settings in Northern Zambia. Journal of the British Academy. 10 (s4), 97-124

Hamann, S. and Kula, N., (2021). Phonetic and phonological considerations on the moraic status of pre-NC vowels in Bemba. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus. 62 (0), 57-74

Kula, NC., (2020). Developing an Areal View of Intonation in Eastern Bantu. Journal of Law and Social Sciences. 3 (1), 1-39

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

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

Hamann, S. and Kula, NC., (2015). Bemba. Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 45 (1), 61-69

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

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). Phillip Backley (2011). An introduction to Element Theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Pp. xiv+210.. 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). . Lingua. 119 (3), 502-506

Kula, NC., (2009). Book review: Lee Bickmore, Chilungu Phonology , CSLI Publications, University of Chicago Press, Stanford (2007).. 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 Bantu1. 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 (2)

Kula, NC., The Oxford Guide to the Bantu Languages. OUP

Kula, NC., Botma, B. and Nasukawa, K., (2013). Bloomsbury Companion to Phonology. Continuum Publishing Corporation. 1472541898. 9781441140180

Book chapters (26)

Kula, N., Domino effects and licensing chains in government licensing sequential NC clusters in Bantu. Editors: Breit, F., Youngberg, C. and Yoshida, Y., . UCL Press

Kula, N., Vowel Harmony. In: The Oxford Guide to the Bantu Languages. Editors: Marten, L., Hurst-Harosh, E., Kula, NC. and Zeller, J., . OUP

Kula, N. and Louriz, N., Acquisition in a multilingual context: English Mid and Low vowel contrasts by native speakers of Tashlhit. In: Essays in Berber Linguistics. Springer

Gibson, H., Kula, N., Marten, L. and Taji, J., (2023). Suffix order restrictions in Bantu. In: The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Morphology. Editors: Ackema, P., Bendjaballaha, S., Bonet, E. and Fábregas, A., . Wiley Blackwell. 1- 33. 9781119693574

Kula, N. and Nasukawa, K., (2021). Reanalysing “epenthetic” consonants in nasal-consonant sequences: A lexical specification approach. In: Perspectives in Element Theory. Editors: Benjaballah, S., Tifrit, A. and Voeltzel, L., . Mouton De Gruyter. 185- 206. 978-3-11-069197-9

Marten, L. and Kula, N., (2021). Expressing politeness and respect in Bantu Languages: A short comparative survey. In: African Languages: Linguistic, Literary and Social Issues; A festschrift in honour of Prof. Herman Batibo. Editors: Chebanne, A. and Lusekelo, A., . The Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS). 67- 84. 9789204470147

Liu, X. and Kula, NC., (2020). Multi-layered recursive representations for depressors. In: Morpheme-internal Recursion in Phonology. 143- 180. 9781501517778

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

(2017). The Routledge Handbook of Phonological Theory. In: The Routledge Handbook of Phonological Theory. Routledge. 226- 261. 9781138025813

Scheer, T. and Kula, NC., (2017). Government Phonology: Element theory, conceptual issues and introduction. In: Routledge Handbook of Phonological Theory. Editors: Hannahs, SJ. and Bosch, A., . Routledge. 226- 261. 9781138025813

Kula, NC., (2017). Uniqueness in element signatures. In: Sonic Signatures: Studies dedicated to John Harris. Editors: Lindsey, G. and Nevins, A., . Mouton de Gruyter. 118- 132. 9789027208316

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. CSLI Publications. 61- 90. 9781575866154

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

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 Publishing Inc.. 149- 158. 9783631607237

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: Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today. John Benjamins Publishing Company. 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. John Benjamins Publishing Company. 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. John Benjamins Publishing Company. 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 International Publishing Group

Grants and funding


Sharpening the lens: Enhancing Linguistics career projects in East Africa

British Academy

Multilingualism, Conflict and Conflict Resolution in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities of Practiced Linguistic Diversity

Economic and Social Research Council


Supporting Multilingualism in Practice: Resource co-creation in primary classrooms in Tanzania

British Academy


Dialectology in Bantu Languages: Variation in Bemba across phonology and morphosyntax

British Academy


Bringing the outside in: Merging local language and literacy practices to enhance classroom learning and achievement

British Academy


Variation in Sesotho and Setswana as spoken in the Free State

British Academy


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 872690


2.605, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

Thursdays 10-12