«Languages of Africa: an attempt at a lexicostatistical classification» has been planned as a multi-volume monograph that aims at a complete, step-by-step re-evaluation of current hypotheses on the genetic classification of most of the languages, currently or until recently spoken on the African continent. The relevance of this task goes far beyond the current needs and issues of historical linguistics. in recent decades, significant progress has been achieved in recreating the human prehistory of Africa through important discoveries and systematizations in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, and population genetics, allowing for a thorough reassessment of earlier conceptions and beliefs on the subject. At the same time, the general «standard model» for the overall classification of Africaʼs languages, introduced by Joseph Greenberg more than half a century ago, still continues to serve as the default scheme of reference for linguists and non-linguists alike — not so much due to any exceptional robustness, inherent in the principles and methods according to which it was originally constructed, but rather due to a complete lack of a well-grounded alternative. Despite a plethora of new high-quality linguistic material that has been accumulated over the past fifty years, and despite the fact that Greenbergʼs methodology of «multilateral comparison» has been harshly criticized over the same period, leading more and more specialists in the field to doubt or even completely reject most of his «macrofamily» groupings, it remains obvious that, as long as no constructive challenge is presented, Greenbergʼs «quadripartite» scheme, according to which the absolute majority of Africaʼs languages falls into one of the four macrofamilies (Khoisan, Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Kordofanian, or Afro-Asiatic), will remain in active usage — for technical and pragmatic reasons, if nothing else. The third volume in this ongoing series, following the same analytical procedure as the previous two, completes the preliminary historical survey, lexicostatistical analysis, and re-classification (as a new work-in-progress reference model) of all the low-level language groups that had earlier been included into Greenbergʼs alleged «Nilo-Saharan»macrofamily. This task, begun in Volume 2 with the analysis of the single largest building block of Nilo-Saharan (the so-called «Eastern Sudanic» family), is now rounded out with the inclusion of all the other potential constituents of Nilo-Saharan — the large Central Sudanic family (somewhat controversial in itself, since it consists of no less than six distinct members, genetic relations between which have not yet been explored to common satisfaction); the smaller Saharan, Maba, and Koman families; and such «macro-languages» and language isolates as Berta, Kunama, Gumuz, Fur, and Songhay. The survey also includes the small Krongo-Kadugli language group, spoken in the Nuba Mountains, and the small language isolate Shabo in Ethiopia, neither of which were included by Greenberg in the original Nilo- Saharan hypothesis, but both of which came to be regarded by some subsequent researchers as potential members of the macrofamily.
In the book, the bilingual community of Mariupol (coastal Azov) Russian G reeks serves as an example on the role of the language in the process of ethnic identity. Urums, one part of the community, speak Urum language (one of the Turkic languages), whereas the native language of another part of the community is Rumei language (the G reek group of the Indo-European Family). The monograph for the first time undertakes the analysis of the identity of this group according to the constructivist approach to ethnicity, and language preservation is considered in the context of language-loyalty of this group. The analysis of the self-identity of Turkic-speaking G reeks helps better understand ethnic processes, including those in stable communities which have consistent characteristics. The study is based on the author’s field research as well as archive sources and presents a considerable amount of new data for the scientific review.
This book is intended for ethnologists, linguists, sociologists, and anyone interested in ethnic processes in the post-Soviet territories and preservation of endangered languages.
The book contains the results of research in the systemic study of the English language.