An Introduction to African Languages

| Portland State University
ISBN 9789027226051 (Eur) | EUR 125.00
ISBN 9781588114211 (USA) | USD 188.00
ISBN 9789027226068 (Eur) | EUR 50.00
ISBN 9781588114228 (USA) | USD 75.00
ISBN 9789027295880 | EUR 125.00/50.00*
| USD 188.00/75.00*
This book introduces beginning students and non-specialists to the diversity and richness of African languages. In addition to providing a solid background to the study of African languages, the book presents linguistic phenomena not found in European languages. A goal of this book is to stimulate interest in African languages and address the question: What makes African languages so fascinating? The orientation adopted throughout the book is a descriptive one, which seeks to characterize African languages in a relatively succinct and neutral manner, and to make the facts accessible to a wide variety of readers. The author’s lengthy acquaintance with the continent and field experiences in western, eastern, and southern Africa allow for both a broad perspective and considerable depth in selected areas. The original examples are often the author’s own but also come from other sources and languages not often referenced in the literature. This text also includes a set of sound files illustrating the phenomena under discussion, be they the clicks of Khoisan, talking drums, or the ideophones (words like English lickety-split) found almost everywhere, which will make this book a valuable resource for teacher and student alike.
[Not in series, 121]  2003.  xx, 265 pp. (incl. CD-Rom)
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“In this very informative introduction to African languages, Tucker Childs provides the reader with a spirited account of why this continent and its languages are so important to the study of language and human history. Those who enter its pages will enjoy the author's presentations and commentaries on the major issues and controversies that have engaged the best minds in the field over the past century and more. May it draw more enthusiasts into the fray!”
“This is an enjoyable text. The strengths outweigh the weaknesses, and all readers will learn a good deal about African languages and the African language situation.”
“Researchers such as language typologists will find the book very useful in tracking down primary sources and to students and teachers; the book could also serve as a valuable reference for field methods course. Overall, the book is excellently structured, clearly written and reader oriented. The author does a great job in pointing out the wealth of issues that characterise the study of African languages. The absence of strongly biased theoretical approaches to language study and the presence of many examples make the book suitable for non-linguists as well.”
“This is a stimulating, richly-documented, and comprehensive introduction to African linguistics, an update long overdue since William Welmers’ African Language Structures (1973). Focusing primarily on structural features that are peculiar to, or the most attested in, Africa, Tucker Childs competently relates the topics he discusses to the state of the art in theoretical linguistics, providing a useful background and also highlighting the contribution that research on them has made, or can make, to our understanding of language. He succeeds in situating African linguistics squarely in the broader domain of the study of language, while providing the expert with a useful reference and the novice with an accessible, well-informed, and critical introduction to such topics as language classification, language typology, language contact and change, phonology, morphosyntax, and pragmatics. His discussions of clicks, ideophones, tonogenesis, verb serialization and consecutivization, predicate clefting, and changes in constituent order, among a host of other interesting topics, are lucid, concise, well-illustrated, and informative features that most instructors would like a textbook to possess. This is evidently the work of an author who is extremely well read, has kept up with various subfields in African and general linguistics, and has an impressive record of field research in different parts of Africa (Liberia, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Kenya) and a wide range of languages.”
“I found An Introduction to African Languages a very good read, and encountered a number of insights about these languages that I had not known, as in the discussion of language history and the use of DNA evidence, as well as syntheses of existing phenomena. It is a book that would serve undergraduates with some exposure to linguisics, as well as the sophisticated lay person who can put up with a small amount of technical notation.”
Cited by

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2016. You got Gungbe, but we got the numbers. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 31:2  pp. 419 ff. Crossref logo
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2010.  In Handbook of Descriptive Linguistic Fieldwork,  pp. 79 ff. Crossref logo
Childs, G. Tucker
2008. Review of Voeltz (2005): Studies in African Linguistic Typology. Studies in Language 32:4  pp. 917 ff. Crossref logo
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2012.  In International Handbook of War, Torture, and Terrorism,  pp. 257 ff. Crossref logo
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2008. Language Ecology and Linguistic Diversity on the African Continent. Language and Linguistics Compass 2:5  pp. 840 ff. Crossref logo
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2012. How to become a “Kwa” noun. Morphology 22:2  pp. 293 ff. Crossref logo
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2017.  In The Cambridge Handbook of Areal Linguistics,  pp. 471 ff. Crossref logo
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2015. The non-derived ideophone in Xitsonga. South African Journal of African Languages 35:2  pp. 261 ff. Crossref logo
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2006. Zimbabwe Colonial and Post-Colonial Language Policy and Planning Practices. Current Issues in Language Planning 7:4  pp. 377 ff. Crossref logo
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2014.  In Giving Space to African Voices [Comparative and International Education, ],  pp. 21 ff. Crossref logo
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2016.  In Ugandan English [Varieties of English Around the World, G59],  pp. 227 ff. Crossref logo
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2021. The evolution of consonant mutation and noun class marking in Wolof. Diachronica 38:1  pp. 64 ff. Crossref logo
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2016. Commentary: Issues of time, tone, roots and replicability. Journal of Language Evolution 1:1  pp. 73 ff. Crossref logo
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2018. Culturally Responsive Pedagogy for African Immigrant Children in U.S. P-12 Schools. Journal of Black Studies 49:1  pp. 71 ff. Crossref logo
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This list is based on CrossRef data as of 06 august 2022. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.

Sound files

1. Introduction


3. Phonetics and phonology


4. Morphology


5. Syntax and semantics


7. Social effects on the languages of Africa


Subjects & Metadata

Electronic/Multimedia Products

Electronic/Multimedia Products
BIC Subject: CFK – Grammar, syntax
BISAC Subject: LAN009000 – LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2003060704 | Marc record