Dr. Augustine Agwuele on African Languages: Black History Month in the Liberal Arts

Dr Augustine Agwuele on African Languages

African American folkways and culture have many roots in African culture and folkways. In 2018, Dr. Augustine Agwuele, professor in the Department of Anthropology, edited a collection about African languages entitled The Routledge Handbook of African Linguistics. The collection covers key themes, approaches, and practical application of African linguistics. In doing so, it “informs, educates, elucidates, and contributes new information to the field of linguistics in general.”

In the introduction, Dr. Agwuele and his co-author Dr. Adams Bodomo, professor at the University of Vienna, describe how African languages comprise a large percentage of languages worldwide. “In 2009 there were 6,909 known languages in the world. Out of these, 2,100 were in Africa (Lewis 2009). In 2017, 7,099 languages are recorded worldwide (Simons and Fennig 2017). Of these, 2,144 languages are in Africa. Just within a space of eight years, there is recorded an increase in the total number of languages existing in the world and in Africa.”

The collection of essays commemorates an international conference on African languages. “This work, produced in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the annual conference on African linguistics, contains 24 chapters covering syntax, phonology, and language acquisition and sociolinguistics.”

The chapters describe the history of and methods used for studying African languages. It also analyzes the sounds and syllable systems, as well as phrases and sentence systems, of African languages. It discusses translation processes The book also describes how language and society affect the translation and representation of African languages in the media and around the world. Finally, the book discusses creative expression and the cultural life of African languages, including African youth languages and gestures and gesturing.

The book brings together research about different linguistic groups in Africa. It is an academic book where readers can learn about the diverse cultures and languages of Africa.