By G. Tucker Childs
Offering an advent to the linguistic research of African languages, the orientation followed all through this booklet is a descriptive-structural-typological one, in preference to a formal-theoretical method. Formalisms should not eschewed in line with se yet relatively are invoked after they reduction the vital thrust of the booklet, that's to explain and symbolize the languages of Africa in a succinct and concise demeanour, and to make the evidence obtainable to the unusual reader. to claim that the procedure is typological implies that a given constitution is in comparison to buildings of an analogous kind (typically ones common to the readers), set inside a longtime diversity of edition, and characterised as traditional or unforeseen. extra element is usually supplied, the place attainable, when it comes to the structure's synchronic distribution and diachronic beginning. The textual content assumes at the very least a few wisdom of language constitution at the a part of its readers, yet not anything past that obtained in a first-year linguistics path. The ebook is geared up by means of linguistic area or sub-field inside linguistics, and every of the chapters should be learn independently. Readers can hence learn selectively or learn the e-book sequentially from cover-to-cover. teachers can use the e-book as a textual content for a path in African languages or perhaps language typology. there's beneficiant indexing by means of subject, language and writer; appendix comprises commonly used substitute names for the languages mentioned and directs readers to listings within the language index.
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Additional info for An Introduction to African Languages
A brief anecdote involving a literary ﬁgure illustrates the typical mixture of scholarship and eccentricity (and even sadness) that has often characterized such investigators. When the author Graham Greene was spying for the British government on his travels through West Africa, he stopped at the Holy Fathers Mission in Bolahun, Liberia, where many have beneﬁted from the Fathers’ warm hospitality and humor. 17 According to Greene, this scholar always appeared in ﬂowing white gowns and was engaged in research of whose nature Greene was unsure (ironic given Greene’s mission).
It is only rarely that the study of African languages takes a diﬀerent form. Other reasons are more particular to currently popular theories (Clements 1989). , Mugesera 1987, Elugbe 1997, Bamgbose 2000b. Another component to African linguistics is the long tradition of (Christian) missionary ﬁeld research on African languages. Some of the earliest and ﬁnest work has come from those seeking to proselytize. , Comrie 1988), especially the work of linguists from the Summer Institute of Linguistics (now known as SIL International), there has regrettably been no widespread recognition of their eﬀorts (Welmers 1971, Newman 1992; see Bamgbose 1976: 6–7), possibly for moral or political reasons (see Calvet 1974, Mühlhäusler 1996).
In (2) I give some examples of the things linguists have focused on in their studies of African languages. , the changing perceptions of Afrikaans, language attitudes, especially the status of European languages, appropriation; Applied linguistics, language policy and language planning, language development, literacy, education9. In a book of this length it is not possible to treat even the subset of topics listed in (2); nonetheless, these topics are all interesting and worthy of study. I now turn to some historical background to the present-day study of African languages.