By Bernd Heine, Derek Nurse
Greater than 40 years in the past it was once validated that the African continent may be divided into 4 special language households. study on African languages has as a result been preoccupied with reconstructing and realizing similarities throughout those households. This has intended that an curiosity in different kinds of linguistic dating, resembling 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 study. This e-book indicates that such similarities throughout African languages are extra universal than is commonly believed. It presents a wide point of view on Africa as a linguistic region, in addition to an research of particular linguistic areas. on the way to have a greater figuring out of African languages, their constructions, and their heritage, 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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Extra resources for A linguistic geography of Africa
Furthermore, the placement of nominal modifiers after the head noun appears to be more widespread in Africa than in most other parts of the world. 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).
First, he proposed a genetic classification of the languages of Africa (1963). A crucial problem associated with many cases of crosslinguistic comparison concerns the fact that it frequently remains unclear whether a given similarity found between languages is due to genetic or to areal relationship. Once it has been established where genetic boundaries are it is possible to propose viable hypotheses on areal diffusion and areal relationship. With his genetic classification therefore, Greenberg made it possible to draw a clear demarcation line between genetic relationship and other kinds of relationship.
The following are a few examples that have been pointed out by students of African languages. Within the domain of nominal polysemy, a paradigm case can be seen in the fact that the same noun is used for ‘meat’ and ‘animal’ or, alternatively, that there are different but etymologically related nouns for ‘meat’ and ‘animal’ (Greenberg 1959, 1983: 4) – a case described by Lichtenberk (1991) more appropriately as heterosemy. 8 This is suggested at least by the fact that whenever the two are distinguished by means of some derivational, compounding or other mechanism then it is the item for ‘meat’ that is likely to be unmarked and ‘animal’ to be marked; cf.
A linguistic geography of Africa by Bernd Heine, Derek Nurse