Daily Archives: August 29, 2022

The Amazing Languages of Africa – sounds, grammar and writing systems of African languages


Dave Huxtable, Inc – Mar 25, 2020

Africa is home to amazing languages. In this entertaining video, I go on a linguistic safari around the languages of Africa, exploring their complex grammar, magnificent array of speech sounds (including the unique click consonants) and some of their home-grown writing systems. Semitic languages span three continents and I look at how Amharic, the main language of Ethiopia, changes verbs at the beginning as well as the end and how it creates groups of words based on consonant roots. I love the Bantu languages, with their large number of noun classes and far-reaching agreement and I look at how this works in Swahili. The Khoisan languages of Southern Africa have an amazing array of speech sounds, including clicks, but please don’t call them “click languages”. They have shared these sounds with their neighbours and I took Xhosa lessons to learn to incorporate them into fluent speech. As well as clicks, some African languages have ejectives, lateral fricatives (which they share with Welsh!) and syllabic nasals. The Ge’ez writing system; used to write Amharic, Tigre and Tigrinya; is beautiful and works in a fascinating way, whereas Tamazight looks like it was created by a minimalist designer! 0:00 Intro from Nairobi, Africa (that’s a joke, by the way) 0:43 Coming up 1:07 Black History Month 2:00 There is no such thing as a primitive language 2:18 The language families of Africa 2:27 Afro-Asiatic languages 2:44 Semitic 3:00 Verb conjugations in Amharic 3:32 Consonant roots 3:56 N G R consonant framework in Amharic 4:21 Nilo Saharan languages 4:55 Niger-Congo languages 5:52 Bantu languages 6:18 Bantu grammar 6:26 Noun classes 7:25 Swahili noun class agreement 8:56 Conveying meaning using noun classes 9:25 Using noun classes to differentiate between homonyms 10:01 Comparison of Bantu names for region, person, people and language across languages 10:44 Amazing repertoire of speech sounds 11:05 The !xo language 11:35 Khoisan languages 12:17 Consonant repertoire 12:29 Don’t call them click languages 13:29 English is a lisp language 14:12 Sprachbund as an explanation of how unrelated languages can have similar features 15:42 Shona whistled sibilants 16:20 Common phonetic features 16:24 Syllabic nasals 16:37 Lateral fricatives 17:13 Ejective consonants 18:23 Burnley isn’t on the Tibetan plateau 18:34 Austronesian languages 18:42 Malagasy 19:39 Writing systems 19:47 Tifinagh 20:06 Ge’ez script 20:16 What’s an abugida? 21:28 Outro

FreeVectorFlags.com By Miskwito (talk) – This vector image includes elements that hav been taken or adapted from this file: Afroasiatic languages.svg., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index… Llangollen Church By Mark Warren 1973 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index… Manchester Road cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Robert Wade – geograph.org.uk/p/1317643Burnley2 Dennis Jarvis / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…) Yak Addis Ababa light rail A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) / FAL Malayo Polynesian By Masjawad99 – map based on with information on primary branches extracted from Smith, Alexander D. (December 2017). “The Western Malayo-Polynesian Problem”. Oceanic Linguistics 56 (2): 435–490. University of Hawai’i Press. DOI:10.1353/ol.2017.0021.., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index…

Ajami: The Kanji of Africa

From Nothing

Nov 9, 2021

Boston Professor Fallou Ngom

America’s Islamic Heritage Museum

May 9, 2016

Understanding the Ajami Script

ASR Distinguished Lecture, Fallou Ngom (2019)

African Studies Association

Mar 18, 2020

The 2019 ASA African Studies Review Distinguished Lecture is entitled “Beyond Orality: Non-Europhone Sources and African Studies in the 21st Century.” Fallou Ngom is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the African Studies Center at Boston University. His research interests include the interactions between African languages and non-African languages, the adaptations of Islam in Africa, and Ajami literatures (records of African languages written in Arabic script).