New book on minority languages of Nigeria

Readers of this blog may be interested in a new book that has just been published by Ruediger Koeppe Verlag on minority languages of Nigeria (thanks to Stuart McGill for giving me a copy for review):

Roger Blench and Stuart McGill (eds.) 2012. Advances in Minority Language Research in Nigeria, Volume 1. Cologne: Ruediger Koeppe Verlag.

The book is available from Koeppe via Amazon for USD 48.79 (including postage).

The chapters in the volume comprise papers presented at the monthly meetings of the Jos Linguistic Circle (northern Nigeria) plus an overview by Roger Blench of current linguistics research and language development in Nigeria. Topics covered include phonetics (Ch 3, 9, 11), orthography (Ch 5, 9), verb morphology (Ch 7, 8, 12), focus (Ch 6), noun class semantics (Ch 10), and historical linguistics (Ch 2, 4). A full list of contents is available here.

I have yet to read the volume in detail but a quick skim shows that the papers are pretty much all descriptively oriented with lots of new materials on previously undescribed languages being included. The book is very nicely produced and bound, with copious tables, maps and illustrations. It does, however, show the limits of paper-based publication at a time when multimedia presentation of linguistic research is relatively easy to achieve. So, for example, Chapter 3 on “Unusual sounds in Nigerian languages” that discusses labio-coronals, interdental approximants and an “explosive bilabial nasal” includes spectrograms and still photographs but would have been so much stronger if audio and video recordings of these phenomena were presented. Language Documentation and Conservation publishes online multimedia such as Lobel and Riwarung’s “Maranao: A Preliminary Phonological Sketch with Supporting Audio” in Volume 5 (2011) or Feeling et al.’s “Why Revisit Published Data of an Endangered Language with Native Speakers? An Illustration from Cherokee” in Volume 4 (2010). At SOAS, we publish multimedia volumes of Language Documentation and Description (such as Volume 10) as a book with accompanying CD or DVD.

Congratulations to Blench and McGill for putting together this volume and making materials on otherwise poorly known languages of Nigeria more widely available.

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