Dr. Steve Nicolle

Dr. Steve Nicolle

MALT Program Director, Associate Professor of Linguistics

After completing a PhD in Linguistics at the University of York, UK, and working for a couple of years at a university in London, Steve and his wife, Ali joined Wycliffe Bible Translators and spent 8 years in a language development project among the Digo people on the south Kenyan coast. For the next 6 years, Steve taught linguistics and translation at universities and theological colleges in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic, and also served as a linguistics and translation consultant with SIL. Steve and his family came to Canada in 2013.

Interesting fact: Through his work as a linguistics and translation consultant Steve has had direct involvement in over 60 languages, including some Deaf Sign Languages.


1993–1996. D.Phil. In Linguistics, University of York, UK

1992–1993. Postgraduate Certificate in Education (UK teaching qualification) in English as a Second/Foreign Language, University College of North Wales, Bangor, UK

1988–1992. B.A. in Linguistics with Philosophy, University of York, UK

Principle research interests

African languages, language change, text linguistics, semantics and pragmatics

Courses taught

LING 4/691 Discourse Analysis
LING 4/593 Semantics & Pragmatics
LING 555 Historical & Comparative Linguistics



  1. Narrative discourse analysis and Bible translation: Training materials based on Acts 16:16–40. (SIL Forum for Language Fieldwork 2017–001.) https://www.sil.org/resources/publications/entry/69386

2013. A Grammar of Digo (a Bantu language of Kenya and Tanzania). Dallas: SIL International.

2012. (with Joseph Mwalonya, Alison Nicolle & Juma Zimbu). Mgombato: Digo–Swahili–English Dictionary. 2nd, completely revised edition. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe. (East African Languages and Dialects, Volume16.)

2002. Mihi ihumirwayo ni Adigo (Plants used by the Digo people: a Digo ethnobotany). Kwale, Kenya: Digo Language and Literacy Project.

Selected articles and book chapters

2017. Introduction to special issue on conditional constructions in African languages. Studies in African Linguistics 46.

2015. A comparative study of eastern Bantu narrative texts. SIL Electronic Working Papers 2015–003. http://www.sil.org/resources/publications/entry/61479

2015. Digo narrative discourse. SIL Language and Culture Documentation and Description 26. http://www.sil.org/resources/publications/entry/61297

2014. Discourse functions of demonstratives in eastern Bantu narrative texts. Studies in African Linguistics 43(2):125–144. http://sal.research.pdx.edu/PDF/432Nicolle.pdf

2012. Semantic-pragmatic change in Bantu ‑no demonstrative forms. Africana Linguistica 18:193–233.

2012. Diachrony and grammaticalization. In: Robert Binnick (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspect, 370–397. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2011. Pragmatic aspects of grammaticalization. In: Heiko Narrog & Bernd Heine (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Grammaticalization, 401–412. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2011. (with Thomas G. Matthews & Catherine Rountree) Implicit aspects of culture in source and target language contexts. Journal of Translation 7:21–48.

2009. Go-and-V, come-and-V, go-V and come-V: A corpus-based account of deictic movement verb constructions. English Text Construction 2:185–208.

2000. Markers of general interpretive use in Amharic and Swahili. In: G. Andersen & T. Fretheim (eds.) Pragmatic Markers and Propositional Attitude, 173–188. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

1998. A relevance theory perspective on grammaticalization. Cognitive Linguistics 9:1–35.


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