By Bernd Heine, Derek Nurse
Greater than 40 years in the past it was once validated that the African continent might be divided into 4 distinctive language households. examine on African languages has for that reason been preoccupied with reconstructing and knowing similarities throughout those households. This has intended that an curiosity in different kinds of linguistic courting, akin to even if structural similarities and dissimilarities between African languages are the results of touch among those languages, hasn't ever been the topic of significant examine. This ebook exhibits that such similarities throughout African languages are extra universal than is broadly believed. It offers a vast viewpoint on Africa as a linguistic sector, in addition to an research of particular linguistic areas. as a way to have a greater realizing of African languages, their buildings, and their historical past, additional information on those contact-induced relationships is key to knowing Africa's linguistic geography, and to reconstructing its historical past and prehistory.
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Additional info for A linguistic geography of Africa
A further important reason for studying phonological patterns in Africa is the light they shed upon earlier population movements and linguistic change through contact. In preparing this chapter, we initially set out to examine characteristics that are more typical of the African continent as a whole than of other broad regions of the world (a goal initially set out by Greenberg 1959, 1983). However, this goal quickly turned out to be unrealistic. From a genetic-historical point of view, Africa contains several independent or very distantly related language groups, each of which show characteristics different from the others.
Thus, in Heine’s (1976: 23) sample of 300 African languages, demonstrative attributes are placed after the noun in 85 percent, adjectives in 88 percent, and numerals in 91 percent of all languages. Another characteristic in the arrangement of meaningful elements relates to verbal structure: in most African languages, pronominal subject clitics or affixes precede the tense markers (93 percent), which again precede the verb (83 percent), while adverbs follow the verb 93 percent (Heine 1976: 24). An arrangement of basic word order that occurs in a number of languages across the continent but is fairly uncommon outside Africa concerns what nowadays tends to be referred to as SOVX order.
It is hoped that the volume makes it clear that Africa’s linguistic geography, and the social dynamics of language contact underlying it, is a research topic that deserves much more attention than it has received in the past. 2 Is Africa a linguistic area? g. Greenberg 1983; Meeussen 1975; Gilman 1986), it has figured in the title of a seminal paper by Greenberg (1959), and it is raised in various parts of this work (see especially chapters 3 and 4). 1 On linguistic areas Areal linguistics is a much neglected field of comparative African linguistics.