Foundations in Southern African Linguistics

This collection of papers, reprinted from Bantu Studies and African Studies treats a variety of topics relevant to the context and analysis of African languages. Tracing the development of African linguistics as an academic discipline within Southern Africa, the volume is thematically organized into five sections: terminology and general issues; linguistic historiography; language classification; linguistic analysis; and the social context of language use. The centrality of linguistics within the South African conception of African studies produced a wealth of early scholarship dealing with regional languages. The articles included within this anthology bear re-reading for several reasons. First, they remain core references for many of the subjects which were first treated here. In other cases, these articles led the field in new directions and are essential reading for the intellectual history of Southern African linguistics. They also provide a useful opportunity for the reader to see how language was affected by dominant themes in African scholarship over the nearly 50 year span of publication represented in this anthology. The list of contributors includes many of the most distinuished names in the history of the discipline, including C.M. Doke, G. Fortune, D.T. Cole, G.P. Lestrade, L.W. Lanham and N.J. van Warmelo. It is an appropriate time to consider the foundations of southern African linguistics as the discipline finds itself today at an important crossroads in its development. The prospect of new social and educational dispensations has entailed a heightened awareness of the language and various linguistic issues throughout South Africa and neighbouring countries. At the same time, the discipline of African linguistics is being transformed in order to respond to these new dispensations. Preparation for the future must involve an examination of the scholary past. This volume should facilitate such a retrospection by bringing readers to critically assess the relationship between the discipline's past, present and future.