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Of all of the African language families, the Chadic languages belonging to the Afroasiatic macro-family are highly internally diverse due to a long history and various scenarios of language contact. This pioneering study explores the development of the sound systems of the 'Central Chadic' languages, a major branch of the Chadic family. Drawing on and comparing field data from about 60 different Central Chadic languages, H. Ekkehard Wolff unpacks the specific phonological principles that underpin the Chadic languages' diverse phonological evolution, arguing that their diversity results to no little extent from historical processes of 'prosodification' of reconstructable segments of the proto-language. The book offers meticulous historical analyses of some 60 words from Proto-Central Chadic, in up to 60 individual modern languages, including both consonants and vowels. Particular emphasis is on tracing the deep-rooted origin and impact of palatalisation and labialisation prosodies within a phonological system that, on its deepest level, recognises only one vowel phoneme */a/.
Language has played a pivotal role in societal transformation in postcolonial Africa towards the creation of globally competitive knowledge societies; however so far, this role has been under-researched and under-estimated. This volume addresses this gap in the literature, by bringing together a team of globally-recognised scholars to explore the effect of language on African postcolonial societies, and how it has contributed to achieving 'mental decolonisation'. A range of languages are explored, both imported (ex-colonial) and indigenous African, and case studies from different spheres of public discourse are investigated, from universities to legal settings. Demonstrating that multilingualism is a resource for, rather than barrier to, successful transformation, this book brings the intellectualisation and institutionalisation of African languages to the forefront of development discourse, and provides an insightful snap-shot of how current academic research, public discourse, political activism and social community engagement have contributed to societal transformation in South Africa.
This chapter serves as general introduction to clear the ground and explore the transformative nature of language in relation to knowledge creation and how it relates to current and burning issues of (mental) decolonisation in postcolonial Africa. It centres around language as a key factor, particularly in higher education at university level, with due recognition of strategies for the intellectualisation and re-empowerment of formerly dis-empowered languages under the colonial regime, encompassing digital literacy, translations from and into African languages and challenges for lexicography. It outlines the overall structure of the book and provides chapter summaries.