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An Introduction to African Languages by G. Tucker Childs

By G. Tucker Childs

Delivering an creation to the linguistic research of African languages, the orientation followed all through this e-book is a descriptive-structural-typological one, in place of a formal-theoretical procedure. Formalisms should not eschewed in keeping with se yet fairly are invoked after they relief the critical thrust of the ebook, that is to explain and signify the languages of Africa in a succinct and concise demeanour, and to make the evidence obtainable to the unexpected reader. to claim that the strategy is typological implies that a given constitution is in comparison to constructions of an analogous variety (typically ones normal to the readers), set inside a longtime diversity of version, and characterised as traditional or unforeseen. additional element can also be supplied, the place attainable, when it comes to the structure's synchronic distribution and diachronic foundation. The textual content assumes no less than a few wisdom of language constitution at the a part of its readers, yet not anything past that received in a first-year linguistics path. The e-book is equipped by means of linguistic area or sub-field inside linguistics, and every of the chapters could be learn independently. Readers can hence learn selectively or learn the ebook sequentially from cover-to-cover. teachers can use the publication as a textual content for a path in African languages or maybe language typology. there's beneficiant indexing by way of subject, language and writer; appendix comprises accepted replacement names for the languages mentioned and directs readers to listings within the language index.

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Although this method has not been put to widespread use by linguists in Africa (but see Ladefoged et al. , Labov 1981. , Casad 1974, Grimes 1990 (see Simons 1979 for a review). With the information gleaned from such an assessment, missionary analysts can make decisions as to how many different Bible translations are needed for a given area and even which dialect should be chosen as the standard. , shared lexicon and grammatical features, the regular 26. The “West” part of the name was subsequently dropped (Doneux 1975).

Such measures allow insights into social processes and language change, insights absent from a purely structural analysis, ones that allow a more accurate extrapolation from the purely synchronic to the diachronic. These insights may also allow for extrapolations in the other direction: predictions can be made about language shift and even language death. For example, in the townships of South Africa and elsewhere, urban varieties have arisen that have been claimed by both insiders and outsiders to be unintelligible to outsiders, despite being just an age-graded dialect or slang.

19 In the sections following I detail some of the methods used in classifying African languages and some of the current controversies in classification. 4): Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan, Afroasiatic, and Khoisan, with NigerCongo containing more than two-thirds of the 2,000 or so languages spoken on the continent (Bendor-Samuel 1989: vi). It must be remembered that from a classificatory standpoint, all phyla are equal, despite differences in size. See Map 2 for an indication of their rough geographical location.

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