By G. Tucker Childs
Supplying an creation to the linguistic examine of African languages, the orientation followed all through this ebook is a descriptive-structural-typological one, in place of a formal-theoretical strategy. Formalisms aren't eschewed in line with se yet relatively are invoked once they relief the primary thrust of the ebook, that's to explain and represent the languages of Africa in a succinct and concise demeanour, and to make the evidence available to the surprising reader. to claim that the procedure is typological implies that a given constitution is in comparison to constructions of a similar variety (typically ones accepted to the readers), set inside of a longtime variety of edition, and characterised as traditional or unforeseen. extra aspect can also be supplied, the place attainable, by way of the structure's synchronic distribution and diachronic starting place. The textual content assumes not less than a few wisdom of language constitution at the a part of its readers, yet not anything past that bought in a first-year linguistics direction. The ebook is geared up by means of linguistic area or sub-field inside of linguistics, and every of the chapters may be learn independently. Readers can hence learn selectively or learn the booklet sequentially from cover-to-cover. teachers can use the ebook as a textual content for a path in African languages or perhaps language typology. there's beneficiant indexing through subject, language and writer; appendix comprises popular replacement names for the languages mentioned and directs readers to listings within the language index.
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Extra info for An Introduction to African Languages
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). Even earlier the group had been named “North-West Atlantic” (Koelle 1854a). 33 34 An Introduction to African Languages data of linguists. Rather it is a very real measure of whether people can and want to understand the speakers of another variety.
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).
The cause may also be a lack of agreement on methods or a lack of familiarity with statistical methods (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994: 96). 30. Bender recommends the background information on Greenberg’s survey in Ruhlen 1987: 76–124. 31. See Winston 1966 for an early statement from an Africanist on this point; Goodman 1970 contains some pointed criticism. 32. There are time limitations to this approach, and the age of African language families may render it useless: Nichols 1992 has stated 8,000 years as a cut-oﬀ point for the viability of the comparative method; another source puts it at 10,000 years (Renfrew 1994: 123).
An Introduction to African Languages by G. Tucker Childs