The Power of Babel: Language and Governance in the African Experience

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9780226514291: The Power of Babel: Language and Governance in the African Experience

Linguists estimate that there are currently nearly 2,000 languages in Africa, a staggering figure that is belied by the relatively few national languages. While African national politics, economics, and law are all conducted primarily in the colonial languages, the cultural life of the majority of citizens is conducted in a bewildering Babel of local and regional dialects, making language itself the center of debates over multiculturalism, gender studies, and social theory. In The Power of Babel, the noted Africanist scholar Ali Mazrui and linguist Alamin Mazrui explore this vast territory of African language.

The Power of Babel is one of the first comprehensive studies of the complex linguistic constellations of Africa. It draws on Ali Mazrui's earlier work in its examination of the "triple heritage" of African culture, in which indigenous, Islamic, and Western traditions compete for influence. In bringing the idea of the triple heritage to language, the Mazruis unravel issues of power, culture, and modernity as they are embedded in African linguistic life.

The first section of the book takes a global perspective, exploring such issues as the Eurocentrism of much linguistic scholarship on Africa; part two takes an African perspective on a variety of issues from the linguistically disadvantaged position of women in Africa to the relation of language policy and democratic development; the third section presents a set of regional studies, centering on the Swahili language's exemplification of the triple heritage.The Power of Babel unites empirical information with theories of nationalism and pluralism—among others—to offer the richest contextual account of African languages to date.

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Noted Kenyan scholar, author, and educator Ali A. Mazrui, creator of the groundbreaking PBS series The Africans, teams up with his son Alamin to examine the complexities and contradictions of language and cultural identity on the African continent. The Mazruis explore the challenges of native African languages surviving in countries where the political, economic, and technological discourses are conducted in Eurocentric languages such as English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. "This linguistic state of affairs," they argue, has resulted from "the failure of African people to be nationalistic enough in linguistic terms." The Power of Babel recounts the history and impact of oral traditions, as well as the influence of Arabic, Christian, and Semitic-based growths in literacy and the imposition of the European concept of the nation-state. The authors also detail the role African American and Afro-Saxon English speakers could play in "African counter-penetration," using English to better educate the West about Africa. This timely and important treatise also finds room to incorporate discussion of such wide-ranging subject matters as James Baldwin, Frantz Fanon, and the rise of Ebonics. --Eugene Holley Jr.

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Linguists estimate that there are currently nearly 2,000 languages in Africa, a staggering figure that is belied by the relatively few national languages. While African national politics, economics and law are all conducted primarily in the colonial languages, the cultural life of the majority of citizens is conducted in a bewildering babel of regional vernaculars and local dialects. In The Power of Babel, Ali Mazrui and Alamin Mazrui explore the cultural and political implications of this linguistic diversity, including the role of language in nationalism and expansionist policies, gender roles, and social theory, to provide one of the most comprehensive studies of the complex linguistic constellations of Africa.

The Power of Babel draws on Ali Mazrui's earlier work in its examination of the "triple heritage" of African culture, in which indigenous, Islamic, and Western traditions compete for influence. In bringing the idea of the triple heritage to language, the Mazruis unravel issues of power, culture, and modernity as they are embedded in African linguistic life. The first section of the book takes a global perspective, exploring such issues as the Eurocentrism of much linguistic scholarship on Africa; part two takes an African perspective on a variety of topics from the linguistically disadvantaged position of women in Africa to the relation of language policy and democratic development; the third section presents a set of regional studies, centering on the Swahili language's exemplification of the triple heritage. The Power of Babel unites empirical information with theories of nationalism and pluralism -- among others -- to consider the future of a linguistically pluralisticAfrica and to offer the richest contextual account of African languages to date.

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Linguists estimate that there are nearly 2000 languages in Africa, a figure that is belied by the relatively few national languages. This book studies the complex linguistic constellations of Africa, examining the triple heritage of African culture, in which indigenous, Islamic and Western traditions compete for influence. In bringing the idea of the triple heritage to language, the authors unravel issues of power, culture and modernity as they are embedded in African linguistic life. The first section of the book takes a global perspective, exploring such issues as the Eurocentrism of much linguistic scholarship on Africa; part two takes an African perspective on a variety of issues from the linguistically disadvantaged position of women in Africa to the relation of language policy and democratic development; and the third section presents a set of regional studies, which centre on the Swahili language s exemplification of the triple heritage. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780226514291

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Linguists estimate that there are nearly 2000 languages in Africa, a figure that is belied by the relatively few national languages. This book studies the complex linguistic constellations of Africa, examining the triple heritage of African culture, in which indigenous, Islamic and Western traditions compete for influence. In bringing the idea of the triple heritage to language, the authors unravel issues of power, culture and modernity as they are embedded in African linguistic life. The first section of the book takes a global perspective, exploring such issues as the Eurocentrism of much linguistic scholarship on Africa; part two takes an African perspective on a variety of issues from the linguistically disadvantaged position of women in Africa to the relation of language policy and democratic development; and the third section presents a set of regional studies, which centre on the Swahili language s exemplification of the triple heritage. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780226514291

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