22 pp. Roman, 571 pp.
2 maps, 1 dendrogram, 2 sonagrams, 25 b/w photos, 1 figure, 44 tables, numerous charts
Text language: English
This book provides a window into the lives and language of the Mambay, a group of 15,000 people on the banks of the Kebbi River in south-western Chad and north-western Cameroon.
The study first situates the Mambay language, a member of the Adamawa-Ubangi division of Niger-Congo, within its historical and sociolinguistic context. This is followed by a thorough description of the phonology, where special consideration is given to nasality and an underlyingly two-level tone system exhibiting downstep as well as pragmatic employment of intonational register shift.
Other striking phenomena include a profoundly phonologized labial flap and a rich vowel inventory with contrastive length, nasalization, glottalization and pharyngealization. In the discussion of morphology, attention is dedicated to a pervasive “free vs. linked” distinction in noun forms and a series of innovative noun prefixes unrelated to wider Niger-Congo noun class prefixes. Additional highlights include logophoric pronouns, a rich system of TAM (tense/aspect/mood) inflection marked on both pronouns and verbs, and an array of ideophones generated by morphological templates.
A section on clauses and clause combinations concludes the grammar, situating word classes within the context of syntax and discourse. Interlinearized texts rich in cultural detail are presented from a variety of genres: song, legend, fable and proverb.