Book reviews in JALL 42

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The latest JALL has two reviews of works on Chadic languages:

  • Allison, Sean. 2020. A grammar of Makary Kotoko. (Grammars and Sketches of the World’s Languages, Africa 12). Leiden/Boston: Brill. XVIII+502 pages. ISBN: 978-90-04-42251-3. EUR 149. (Reviewed by: Abdoulaye, Mahamane L.). In: Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 42(2). 279–285.
  • Newman, Paul & Roxana Ma Newman. 2020. Hausa Dictionary: Hausa-English/English-Hausa, Ƙamusun Hausa: Hausa-Ingilishi/Ingilishi-Hausa. Kano: Bayero University Press, Kano, Nigeria. (Reviewed by: Leben, William R.). In: Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 42(2). 287–290.

Review of: Búun Saba

Búun Saba. Proverbs, Sayings and Maxims in Eastern Tangale (Northern Nigeria) by Herrmann Jungraithmayr. Illustrated by Ishaku H. Osman, In collaboration with Stephen Njeno Yoblis, Njeno Andirya Galadima. (Westafrikanische Studien, Vol. 31). Cologne: Köppe-Verlag. 2006. XXII + 131 pages, 5 b/w photographs, 64 drawings, Index Tangale-English, English-Tangale, Euro 24,80. ISBN 978-3-89645-467-6.

Reviewed by: Uwe Seibert

It is a well-known fact that most African languages are rich in proverbs. In Africa, morals and lessons are passed on in the form of proverbs, and they reflect the traditional values of the people who use them. Thus we can learn a great deal about a people by studying its proverbs. The volume under review is a collection of “Proverbs, Sayings and Maxims in Eastern Tangale (Northern Nigeria)”. Herrmann Jungraithmayr has been studying the language and culture of the Tangale people for more than fifty years. The author of this review wasn’t even born when he wrote his PhD thesis on Tangale (Untersuchungen zur Sprache der Tangale in Nordost-Nigerien. Hamburg 1956). Over this period, and especially in the past two decades, Jungraithmayr has published a number of articles and books on Tangale culture and language, including:

The volume under review is another outcome of Jungraithmayr’s long years of research on Tangale. Following an introduction on the meaning and language of proverbs, the book presents 391 Eastern Tangale proverbs, which were contributed by men and women of different age, mostly from Kaltungo LGA in Northeastern Nigeria. Each proverb is followed by three lines of English translation (gloss, literal and free translation). Some explanatory notes can be found in the back of the book. Drawings by Ishaku H. Osman are added to further illustrate the meaning of the proverbs.

According to Jungraithmayr, the proverbs “have not been classified according to any formal semantic category nor are they ordered alphabetically. They are listed in the order they were presented by the informants” (XVIII). A Tangale-English and English-Tangale index in the back of the book helps to locate proverbs that deal with a similar topic.

Jungraithmayr’s collection of Tangale proverbs can be used as a good starting point for further studies. One area that will be interesting to study is the formal structure of the proverbs. A first glance shows that some recurring stylistic patterns can be found in the proverbs, e.g.

  • contrasts (“X is X and Y is Y”), e.g. proverbs # 118, 178, 179, 187, 196, 209, 211, 220
  • comparisons (“X is like Y”, “Is X like Y ?”), e.g. proverbs # 112, 115, 120, 121, 143, 144
  • rhyme-like patterns, e.g. proverb # 92

Another interesting research area would be comparing Tangale proverbs with Hausa proverbs or with the proverbs of other neighboring ethnic groups. With this book — and with his other publications on Tangale — Herrmann Jungraithmayr has laid a solid foundation. Younger scholars — preferably some learned Tangale speakers — can and should build on it.

Chadic links collection: feel free to contribute

I have started collecting my own list, using the social bookmarking service

In one of the first posts, I mentioned Web resources for African Languages, a private website run by Jouni F. Maho. There, one can find links to online materials on many Chadic languages, including articles, dictionaries, sound files and word lists. It is organised by subgroups and languages and it keeps growing. If you look for any Chadic online materials, it is the first place to check.

I have started collecting my own list, using the social bookmarking service My own Chadic links can be found at

Maybe you have already noticed the new section titled “Chadic Links“. Feel free to contribute to this list. In order to do this, all you have to do is open an account with (which is free of charge) and save your own Chadic links there. It would be great if we could build up a larger collection together.

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“A Grammar of Mina” reviewed on Linguist List

A Grammar of Mina by Frajzyngier, Johnston & Edwards was published in 2005 by Mouton de Gruyter. It has been reviewed on Linguist List by Mahamane L. Abdoulaye (Abdou Moumouni University, Niamey, Niger).

Read the review

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A new year and a new start

Chadic Newsletter is a publication that has a long tradition (Read our About page). After appearing in printed form for more than 30 years, in the past few years it was continued electronically, in form of a website which was updated from time to time.

In the meantime, new technologies have been developed. In the past few years, weblogs have become a very popular way of online publishing. Writing a weblog entry is very simple — nearly as simple as writing an email message — and it is an excellent way of sharing information quickly.

Therefore, starting today, Chadic Newsletter will be published in the form of a weblog, which will carry the name Chadic Newsletter Online.

We hope that our readers will accept this new means of publication. We are very eager to read your comments. A very nice and useful feature of weblogs is that you can add your comments right at the bottom of each post.

Best wishes for a happy and successful year 2007 to all of you!

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