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492 LANGUAGE, VOLUME 76, NUMBER 2 (2000) 'Conclusion' (261-65), briefly recapitulates the main argument of the book. For the non-Slavicist, some local jargon could be explained earlier than it actually occurs, e.g. 'iotus', 'pleophonic', but the author is generally sensitive to the needs of the outsider. For example, she explains how diphthongs are also vowel-consonant sequences where the consonant can be a nasal or liquid, an established convention in the literature. Another minor criticism is that some readers would have liked to hearmore phonetic detail aboutthephenomenaunder study to better understand them. The monolingual reader should be warned that the book seems designed for Indo-Europeanists since there are no translations for French, Spanish, German, and Latin (!) passages. Nonetheless, the book should be ofinterest to the specialist as well as to anyone interested in prosody and language change. [G. Tucker Childs, Portland State University.] A reference grammar of Mbili. By Funwi F. Ayuninjam. Lanham, New York & Oxford: University Press of America, 1998. Pp. xxvi, 444. Mbili is a Grassfield(s) Bantu language spoken in northwestern Cameroon nearthe border with Nigeria. The author is a native speaker, and his grammar represents an attempt to satisfy a number of different constituencies, not all ofwhich will be equally happy with the product. On the one hand, he wants the book to be useful to comparativists and future researchers; on the other he wants the grammar to be useful in the schools. Some might argue that achieving both these ends with the same book is difficult at best. The foreword by Solomon I. Sara, S.J., of Georgetown University proclaims the book to be 'a gift from the Gods' (Sara is the author's thesis advisor; the book is the author's 1994 thesis). Other readers may not rank the book so high. Nonetheless, it remains an important contribution to the growing number of descriptive African grammars written by native speakers from a relatively theory-neutral or theorycommon perspective (the frameworks of autosegmental phonology, case grammar, and phrase-structure grammar are specifically invoked) designed to make the facts and analysis of a hitherto underdescribed language accessible to a general readership. The linguistically sophisticated reader will avoid much beyond the purely descriptive level: for example , Section 0.10, 'On the use of Indo-European distinctions ' (24-27), is naive at best, and not many readers will be interested in hearing more about the Sophists and Stoics (24 ff.). Sometimes even the most basic analysis should be shunned: the classification of riddles as to the grammatical form (word, phrase, sentence) oftheir constituent parts (393) tells us little. This same reader will also have to overcome somewhat gratuitous references and pedestrian explanation . These criticisms, however, are somewhat palliated by remembering that the author is trying to appeal to a great many constituencies, from the linguist to the Mbili-speaking teacher. The bulle of the book presents the structural facts of Mbili, two chapters on phonology, two on morphology , and one on syntax. For typologists there are some interesting data here although the author's use of linguistic terminology is sometimes idiosyncratic. The phonologist will find tone and vowel harmony as well as some interesting phonotactics. The morphology has four past distinctions and four future distinctions, alongwiththewell-knownNiger-Congo noun class system and verb extensions. For the syntactician there is 'mixed' word order: SVO and SNegOV. After the structural presentation, the conclusion (399-401) restates the author's goals and stipulates that they have all been achieved. Five short 'Demonstration texts' consist of two folk tales, a 'wedding address', and two passages from the (Christian) Bible. A brief Mbili-English lexicon follows , consisting ofless than nine (double-columned) pages with at most 700 entries. The poorly edited list of references is confusingly broken up into nonmutually exclusive subdivisions rather than presented as a single list. One somewhat unexpected feature is a brief comparison of Mbili to Cameroonian Pidgin English (14-18) which, the author avers, provides further evidence for the substratalist as opposed to the universalist position. Whatever the veracity of this claim, the author's inclusion of a pidgin in the presentation of an African grammar remains a welcome and useful addition to the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 492-493
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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