This book "asserts that the origin and spread of languages must be examined primarily through the time-tested techniques of linguistic analysis, rather than those of evolutionary biology" and "defends traditional practices in historical linguistics while remaining open to new techniques, including computational methods" and "will appeal to readers interested in world history and world geography."
Review of A Glossary of Terms for Bantu Verbal Categories, With special Emphasis on Tense and Aspect
Date: Sun, 19 Feb 2006 10:31:14 +0100 From: Margaret Dunham Subject: A Glossary of Terms for Bantu Verbal Categories
AUTHORS: Beaudoin-Lietz, Christa; Nurse, Derek; Rose, Sarah TITLE: A Glossary of Terms for Bantu Verbal Categories SUBTITLE: With Special Emphasis on Tense and Aspect SERIES: LINCOM Studies in African Linguistics 55 PUBLISHER: Lincom GmbH YEAR: 2002
Margaret Dunham, Laboratoire de Langues et Civilisations à Tradition Orale, CNRS, Villejuif, France
Noting the considerable diversity in the terms used to describe the verbal systems of Bantu languages, and given that each school tends to use its own vocabulary, the authors of this book set out to gather together the major definitions for terms relating to the said verbal systems, and when necessary, give their own. The bibliography is extensive and lists all the main general works on tense-aspect-mood systems as well as a large number of studies devoted to particular languages, from Meinhof (1899) to Nurse and Philippson (2003).
The book is organized as a glossary, with over 200 entries. The authors define words like tense or aspect, but also for example devote three pages to explaining the different elements that can make up the verb form. Many of the notions will already be familiar to most readers, such as 'clitic', but some are notions that have rarely, as far as I know, been applied to Bantu languages, such as the Guillaumian notions of ascending and descending time systems.
The definitions are mostly brief and concise, though they can run to several pages. All entries are cross-indexed.
Although the book is relatively short, 106 pages, it is remarkably complete. A reference book of this type was indeed lacking, and it is hoped that it will be used by increasing numbers of scholars of Bantu languages, thereby reducing the confusion that makes consulting works on varied languages extremely arduous.
There are a few minor typographical errors that I mention in the hopes that the authors will one day re-edit the book, including more extensive examples.
Page 25: in examples (i) and (ii) the verb root is glossed as 'see' instead of 'buy'.
Pages 40-41: there are examples from a language called Tumbuka on page 40 but Tumbuku on page 41. In the appendix, page 106, the language is referred to as Tumbuka.
On page 88, the authors list several languages which they say are not tonal today, ending with S10. They then proceed to give examples of lexical and grammatical tones, in S10.
In the bibliography, there are several mistaken references to Nurse and Philippson (2003) which was clearly supposed to come out earlier, by a different publisher.
Meinhof, C. (1899-1900) Das Zeitwort in der Benga-Sprache. Zeitschrift für Afrikanische und Oceanische Sprachen 3:265-284.
Nurse, D. and G. Philippson (ed.) (2003) The Bantu Languages. London: Routledge.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Margaret Dunham carries out research in linguistics at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). She recently published a monograph on Langi, a hitherto undocumented Bantu language spoken in Tanzania. She is currently documenting a closely related language, Nyilamba, in order to clarify certain areal typological features, certainly due in part to long contact with surrounding Cushitic languages.