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By Roger Blench

Archaeology, Language, and the African Past is an summary of theories and techniques, a fusion of African linguistics and archaeology. Roger Blench offers a entire examine the background of all African language households, incorporating the newest linguistic classifications, present facts from archaeology, genetic learn, and recorded background. This unique and definitive quantity examines the commercial tradition of the continent―from significant plants and vegetation to animals and livestock―from a multi-dimensional point of view. It presents scholars of linguistics, archaeology, and anthropology with a severe dialogue at the heritage of African languages and the cultures they articulate.

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1966). Prior to computers, counting a large number of languages against one another was a major undertaking, but lexicostatistic exercises were undertaken for Kwa (Armstrong 1964, 1981), Atlantic (Sapir 1971), Kwa (Bole-Richard & Lafage 1983) and for Mande (Dwyer 1989). However, it is for Bantu that lexicostatistics seems to have been most alluring. g. Henrici 1973, Bastin & Piron 1999; Bastin, Coupez & Mann 1999). A fifth columnist that very often accompanies lexicostatistics is glottochronology, the notion that languages change at a standard rate, so regular that by applying a formula to lexicostatistical results, the approximate ages of language families can be estimated.

If these occur in disparate languages, the researcher concludes that these segments must be cognate, and that therefore the meanings must be related, if only a link can be found. This can lead researchers to assert a connection between very different meanings. Schoenbrunn (1997:262) begins a sequence of proposed cognates with ‘hunting dog’, links this to ordinary dog and ‘wolf’, thence to ‘otter’ and finally ‘poor person, beggar’. This seems to stretch semantics to breaking point; anything can be linked to anything if the roots are homophonous.

Most African languages have extensive morphological systems, and some are so complex that their description is still disputed. Western Nilotic languages such as Dinka and Shilluk have lost much of the segmental morphology while retaining the tone; even after many attempts by different scholars, they remain intractable. The noun-classes of the Bantu languages, characterised by alternating prefixes and concord, and exemplified in languages such as Swahili, are found throughout the Niger-Congo phylum.

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