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The Arabic Script in Africa

Studies in the Use of a Writing System

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Edited by Meikal Mumin and Kees Versteegh

The Arabic script in Africa contains sixteen papers on the past and present use of Arabic script to write African languages. These writing traditions, which are sometimes collectively referred to as Ajami, are discussed for single or multiple languages, with examples from all major linguistic phyla of Africa but one (Khoisan), and from all geographic areas of Africa (North, West, Central, East, and South Africa), as well as a paper on the Ajami heritage in the Americas. The papers analyze (ethno-) historical, literary, (socio-) linguistic, and in particular grammatological aspects of these previously understudied writing traditions and exemplify their range and scope, providing new data for the comparative study of writing systems, literacy in Africa, and the history of (Islam in) Africa.

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Edited by Alexandra Aikhenvald and Anne Storch

Every language has a way of talking about seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. In about a quarter of the world's languages, grammatical evidentials express means of perception. In some languages verbs of vision subsume cognitive meanings. In others, cognition is associated with a verb of auditory perception, touch, or smell. 'Vision' is not the universally preferred means of perception. In numerous cultures, taboos are associated with forbidden visual experience. Vision may be considered intrusive and aggressive, and linked with power. In contrast, 'hearing' and 'listening' are the main avenues for learning, understanding and 'knowing'. The studies presented in this book set out to explore how these meanings and concepts are expressed in languages of Africa, Oceania, and South America.