The ATrA Workshop was held in Trieste (Italy) on May 24-26, 2016 with the aim of discussing the possible dimensions and varieties related to phenomena of cultural and linguistic transition in Africa.
Identity negotiation, ethnicity and cultural affiliation, cases of contact, creolization, integration, urbanization, climate or cultural changes, language and cultural switch, market exchanges and human migration have been put on the table, generating a very concrete and fruitful discussion.
The case studies collected in this miscellaneous book, give an idea of the multi-faceted dimensions of the debate, which ranges by necessity from anthropology to archaeology and from philology to linguistics, in a continuous alternation of disciplines, voices and styles.
Mechanisms of resilience and adaptation to new situations and contexts are described through an investigation which in many cases has the flavour of an intimate research, aimed above all at finding out the very essence of “being human”.
Ilaria Micheli, PhD in African Studies (2005) and expert in linguistic anthropology, is a researcher in the Department of Legal, Linguistic, Interpreting and Translation Studies at the University of Trieste. Since 2001 she has been working on the language and culture of the Kulango (Gur – Niger‑Congo) in Côte d’Ivoire, and more recently on the Ogiek (Kalenjin – Nilo‑Saharan) in Kenya. Material culture, oral tradition and traditional medicine are her main research areas. She teaches African Languages and Cultures at the University of Venice “Caʼ Foscari” as well as traditional and modern African literature and social anthropology at the University of Trieste.
Abstract: The paper examines the Arabic component of a five-language vocabulary published at the beginning of the 20th century (Wtterwulghe 1904). The aims of the analysis are: (i) to illustrate the multiple sources of this variety of Arabic; (ii) to establish the nature of the variety of Arabic represented in the vocabulary, which Luffin (2004) calls “arabe véhiculaire”. The comparison made with other contemporary sources on African Arabic-lexified pidgins and creoles (Cook 1905, Jenkins 1909, Meldon 1913, Owen & Keane 1915, Muraz 1926) suggests that the variety illustrated is a pidgin-like mix, with input from a wide range of sources, including Egyptian, Sudanese and Moroccan Arabic as well as several African languages, e.g. Bari, Luganda, Swahili, and Zande. It is also shown that the Wtterwulghe’s (1904) vocabulary contains some of the earliest attestations of features also found in the African Arabic-lexified creoles Nubi and Juba Arabic.
Language planning is a formal or informal problem-solving administrative activity which “advocate[s for] either expanding or restricting the resources of a language” and is aimed at total adoption of a language-use strategy on a national level (Haugen 1966a; Kloss 1969; Haarman 1990). This activity has often relied on a cost-benefit analysis structure to choose and eventually implement an official language on a national level. This work investigates such choices made during the independence period in Ghana and advocates for editing the cost-benefit strategy going forward by incorporating network analysis to provide government leaders with a cohesive sociolinguistic valuation of alternatives for their consideration.
Clause chaining is a clause-linking strategy which stands in between coordination and subordination, combining the lack of embeddedness of the former with the dependence of the latter (Foley and Van Valin, 1984). A finite verb form may be either preceded or followed by one or several less-finite forms: these two options are referred to as medial-final and initial-medial clause chaining, respectively. While medial-final chaining is attested all over the world, initial-medial chaining was until recently deemed to be unattested; however, recent research has demonstrated its existence in several Niger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan languages. While Berber (Afroasiatic) was long neglected in the relevant typological literature, Mauri (in press) has shown that Berber’s Chained-Aorist construction is an instance of initial-medial clause chaining. This paper highlights the similarities between Berber’s Chained Aorist and the clause-chaining constructions of some genetically-unrelated sub-Saharan languages. These similarities might support an interpretation of initial-medial clause chaining in these languages as an areal feature.
For the most part, the linguistic history of the Ethio-Eritrean highlands in ancient and mediaeval times cannot be reconstructed because of the lack of direct sources. The hegemonic role played by a few cultural centers and the prevalence of the ‘dominant’ languages caused the disappearance of a number of unknown idioms. Therefore, in order to raise a reliable reconstruction, the modern historical research must take into account also the scanty philological traces of languages used by peoples that lost their linguistic identities as a consequence of the cultural assimilation. Particularly, the etymological interpretation of some royal names allows one to cast a light on the linguistic origin of the members of ancient dynasties ruling between the 3rd and the 13th c.