Advances in Minority Language Research in Nigeria vol. I
Edited by: Roger M. Blench, Stuart McGill. With a preface by: Roger M. Blench, Stuart McGill. With contributions by: Roger M. Blench, David Crozier, Stephen Dettweiler, Daniel Gya, Matthew Harley, Selbut Longtau, Stuart McGill, Sophie Salffner, Rebecca Smith Paterson, Anne Storch, Andy Warren-Rothlin. Series edited by: Roger M. Blench.
Series: Kay Williamson Educational Foundation Volume 52012
24 pp. Roman, 372 pp.
10 maps, 28 b/w photos, numerous tables and graphs
Text language(s): English
Format: 170 x 240 mm
This volume is a collection of articles based on papers which have been presented at the monthly Jos Linguistics Circle, held in the city of Jos in central Nigeria, together with an overview chapter surveying current linguistics research and language development in Nigeria.
The twelve articles are all written by specialists in Nigerian languages and treat a wide range of subjects. General linguistics topics include phonetics (Biu-Mandara labiocoronals, interdental approximants in Bauchi, and the “explosive bilabial nasal” of Ninkyop), phonology (vowel length in C’Lela and word-initial gemination in Cicipu), morphosyntax (focus strategies in Rigwe, tense/aspect/manner marking in Ukaan, and verbal nouns in Jukun), semantics (of ut‑Ma’in noun classes), and discourse (information structure encoded by verbal morphology in Central Kambari). Other chapters have sociolinguistic and interdisciplinary themes, including archaeology, Tarok oral traditions, and the use of Arabic script in present-day Nigeria.
The focus is on the minority languages of Nigeria: many of the languages discussed are severely underdescribed despite their fascinating properties, and this book will be a valuable resource for africanists and typologists alike.
Roger Blench / Stuart McGill:
Part I – Introduction
Chapter I – Roger Blench:
Research and development of Nigerian minority languages
Part II – General issues
Chapter II – Roger Blench:
Understanding Nigerian prehistory through its linguistic geography
Chapter III – Matthew Harley:
Unusual sounds in Nigerian languages
Chapter IV – Selbut Longtau:
Their tongues still speak loud
Chapter V – Andy Warren-Rothlin:
Arabic script in modern Nigeria
Part III – Morphosyntax in the Nigerian Middle Belt
Chapter VI – Daniel Gya:
Focus in Rigwe syntax
Chapter VII – Sophie Salffner:
Tense, aspect and manner encoding in Ikaan
Chapter VIII – Anne Storch:
Jukun verbal nouns
Part IV – Topics in Kainji linguistics
Chapter IX – Stephen Dettweiler:
The case for writing vowel length in C’Lela
Chapter X – Rebecca Smith Paterson:
The semantics of ut Ma’in noun classes
Chapter XI – Stuart McGill:
The development of long consonants in Cicipu
Chapter XII – David Crozier:
From verb morphology to discourse in Central Kambari
The book under review is a significant contribution to linguistic theory, both in its general perspective and in the African studies dimension. The authors concentrate on topics of current theoretical interest and give examples from original language sources. The data provides evidence for a variety of systemic manifestations of regular grammatical categories and uncovers some unusual features. New language systems (or their parts) are presented with special attention paid to maintaining clarity and accuracy. The topics are only discussed following a brief introduction to the language and a description of its grammar, due to the fact that these languages were largely absent from the earlier linguistic works. The book is very innovative within the field of historical linguistics and classification matters, especially in those aspects that refer to using linguistic data for tracing Nigerian prehistory and establishing mutual relationships between ethnic groups. [...] The most spectacular achievement of the volume involves the documentation of minority languages in Nigeria, including endangered languages that have thus far not been registered in the UNESCO world atlas. [...] Advances in Minority Language Research in Nigeria is a valuable publication that gives an account of the research activities of the Jos Linguistic Circle in which missionaries and academics have met in their concern for ‘threatened’ languages and manifested their interest in both theoretical and practical aspects of language endangerment.
Nina Pawlak in Studies of the Department of African Languages and Cultures, 46/2012, pp. 117-123
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