An Introduction to African Languages - download pdf or read online
By G. Tucker Childs
Offering an creation to the linguistic research of African languages, the orientation followed all through this booklet is a descriptive-structural-typological one, instead of a formal-theoretical strategy. Formalisms usually are not eschewed according to se yet fairly are invoked once they relief the crucial 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 obtainable to the surprising reader. to assert that the procedure is typological signifies that a given constitution is in comparison to constructions of an analogous sort (typically ones normal to the readers), set inside of a longtime variety of version, and characterised as traditional or unforeseen. extra aspect is additionally supplied, the place attainable, when it comes to the structure's synchronic distribution and diachronic beginning. The textual content assumes at the least a few wisdom of language constitution at the a part of its readers, yet not anything past that got in a first-year linguistics direction. The booklet is geared up through linguistic area or sub-field inside linguistics, and every of the chapters may be learn independently. Readers can therefore learn selectively or learn the booklet sequentially from cover-to-cover. teachers can use the publication as a textual content for a direction in African languages or perhaps language typology. there's beneficiant indexing by means of subject, language and writer; appendix comprises widespread substitute names for the languages mentioned and directs readers to listings within the language index.
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For example, speakers of Language A understand speakers of Language B at a rate of 80% but speakers of Language B understand speakers of Language A at a rate of only 60%. 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, it is not unlikely that a typical citizen of Nigeria will speak at least three diﬀerent languages in addition to Nigerian Pidgin English. , Myers-Scotton 1993). Thus they will adapt to the situation in which the (language) survey question is being asked. Speakers of Cangin languages in Senegal, for example, speak their languages only at home and were long considered to be speakers of Wolof, a much more widespread and politically important language (Pichl 1966). 19. Phylum overviews can be found in Heine & Nurse 2000; readers of German might also want to look at Heine et al.
A few case studies illustrating these problems follow, one at the macro or highest level of classiﬁcation, that of phyla (“family” is also used). The next two studies look at lower level groupings to illustrate ﬁrst how geographical factors have inﬂuenced genetic classiﬁcation and then how a typological feature has also held sway. The sources of controversy are multiple and include (historically) at least prejudice on the part of Europeans, who have often allowed non-linguistic criteria to intrude on their classiﬁcatory tasks.
An Introduction to African Languages by G. Tucker Childs