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The history of southern African languages subsumed under “Khoisan” has been subject to a great deal of speculation, which has stemmed in large part from our ignorance about them. In the last two decades, however, our knowledge has grown considerably and a number of earlier views turned out to be misconceptions or at least weak and premature hypotheses, among them the idea of a Macro-Khoisan family. Nevertheless, some insufficiently substantiated claims are still held as conventional wisdom in and outside the field.
Foragers are often portrayed as “others” standing outside the main trajectory of human social evolution, which began with the Neolithic Revolution. In some forms of this narrative, foragers are static, left behind in the tide of history by their dynamic cousins, the farmers.
Hunter-gatherers are often portrayed as 'others' standing outside the main trajectory of human social evolution. But even after eleven millennia of agriculture and two centuries of widespread industrialization, hunter-gatherer societies continue to exist. This volume, using the lens of language, offers us a window into the inner workings of twenty-first-century hunter-gatherer societies - how they survive and how they interface with societies that produce more. It challenges long-held assumptions about the limits on social dynamism in hunter-gatherer societies to show that their languages are no different either typologically or sociolinguistically from other languages. With its worldwide coverage, this volume serves as a report on the state of hunter-gatherer societies at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and readers in all geographical areas will find arguments of relevance here.