LD&C Special Publication No. 10: African language documentation: new data, methods and approaches

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    Front matter
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016)
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    Front cover
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016)
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    Language documentation in Africa: turning tables
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016) Seyfeddinipur, Mandana ; Chambers, Mary
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    Why are they named after death? Name giving, name changing and death prevention names in Gújjolaay Eegimaa (Banjal)
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016) Sagna, Serge ; Bassène, Emmanuel
    This paper advocates the integration of ethnographic information such as anthroponymy in language documentation, by discussing the results of the documentation of personal names among speakers of Gújjolaay Eegimaa. Our study shows that Eegimaa proper names include names that may be termed ‘meaningless names’, because their meanings are virtually impossible to identify, and meaningful names, i.e. names whose meanings are semantically transparent. Two main types of meaningful proper names are identified: those that describe aspects of an individual’s physic or character, and ritual names which are termed death prevention names. Death prevention names include names given to women who undergo the Gaññalen ‘birth ritual’ to help them with pregnancy and birthgiving, and those given to children to fight infant mortality. We provide an analysis of the morphological structures and the meanings of proper names and investigate name changing practices among Eegimaa speakers. Our study shows that, in addition to revealing aspects of individuals’ lives, proper names also reveal important aspects of speakers’ social organisation. As a result, anthroponymy is an area of possible collaborative research with other disciplines including anthropology and philosophy.
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    Linguistic variation and the dynamics of language documentation: Editing in ‘pure’ Kagulu
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016) Marten, Lutz ; Petzell, Malin
    The Tanzanian ethnic community language Kagulu is in extended language contact with the national language Swahili and other neighbouring community languages. The effects of contact are seen in vocabulary and structure, leading to a high degree of linguistic variation and to the development of distinct varieties of ‘pure’ and ‘mixed’ Kagulu. A comprehensive documentation of the language needs to take this variation into account and to provide a description of the different varieties and their interaction. The paper illustrates this point by charting the development of a specific text within a language documentation project. A comparison of three versions of the text – a recorded oral story, a transcribed version of it and a further, edited version in which features of pure Kagulu are edited in – shows the dynamics of how the different versions of the text interact and provides a detailed picture of linguistic variation and of speakers’ use and exploitation of it. We show that all versions of the text are valid, ‘authentic’ representations of their own linguistic reality, and how all three of them, and the processes of their genesis, are an integral part of a comprehensive documentation of Kagulu and its linguistic ecology.