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By Roger Blench

Archaeology, Language, and the African Past is an outline of theories and techniques, a fusion of African linguistics and archaeology. Roger Blench presents a finished examine the heritage of all African language households, incorporating the newest linguistic classifications, present facts from archaeology, genetic learn, and recorded background. This unique and definitive quantity examines the industrial tradition of the continent―from significant vegetation and vegetation to animals and livestock―from a multi-dimensional standpoint. It offers scholars of linguistics, archaeology, and anthropology with a serious dialogue at the background of African languages and the cultures they articulate.

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Example text

Semantics is difficult; although astonishing shifts can occur this does not by itself licence a link between two roots that simply look similar. The longer you work on a language phylum, the stronger is the sense of what is possible. Although imaginative authors may be right to respond that we will never get very far if we are too conservative, equally we may want to be wary of the novelistic injunction to ‘only connect’. Generally, Africanists should take a far more conservative approach to semantics.

The reconstruction of tree names is more complex; Africa has a relatively high level of floristic biodiversity and almost all species of tree are of some potential use. However, some species mesh with evolving production systems, become very useful and thus gain a high degree of salience. African mahogany, the shea, the locust tree, the baobab, the silk-cotton are examples of these (Blench in press e). This salience is reflected in the existence of widespread linguistic roots that can be taken to mark the point in the evolution of African language phyla at which human society began to attribute significant economic and cultural value to a particular species.

In fact, many items and practices, as well as facts about the natural and social environment will never be retrievable. 36 Reconstructing the African past: Roger Blench. Main text Tracking loanwords: interpretations of contact and borrowing A distinctive feature of the history of African language classification has been a widespread unwillingness to analyse commonalties between languages as the result of contact and borrowing, except in the case of transparent and recent loanwords. Most African languages are broadly related to their neighbours and it seemed simpler to assume that common lexicon or morphology was the product of a common proto-form to be reconstructed higher up the historical ‘tree’.

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Archaeology, Language, and the African Past by Roger Blench

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