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.
1. Acknowledgements and dedication; 2. Preface; 3. Abbreviations; 4. List of Maps; 5. List of Figures; 6. List of Tables; 7. 1. Introduction; 8. 2. The classification of African languages; 9. 3. Phonetics and phonology; 10. 4. Morphology; 11. 5. Syntax and semantics; 12. 6. Historical and typological issues; 13. 7. Social effects on the languages of Africa; 14. Appendices; 15. References; 16. Index