X, 279 pp.
1 CD-ROM with text examples (audio files) and word lists, numerous charts and tables
Text language(s): Beja (Bedawiyet), English
Beja holds a special position within the Afro-Asiatic languages, since it is the only Cushitic language classified as North Cushitic. Beja speakers number about 1 million – but ethnic Beja people may be as many as 2 or 3 million. They live in Southern Egypt, Eastern Sudan and Northern Eritrea. The Atmaan dialect – one of the Beja varieties which is mainly spoken in the Sudan – serves as the basis for this book.
The theoretical orientation of this book is functional and the progression is learner-oriented – it proceeds from small, unstructured items to more and more complex structures. The initial section on Language Basics offers simple, holistic items for immediate, unanalyzed basic communication. The next section on Nouns and Phrases deals with nominal words and noun phrases. At the end of this section, there are short nominal clauses which allow the speaker to “define” or “describe” things.
The third section is on Verbs and Clauses. It starts with clauses which consist of only one verb, and progresses to clauses which also have objects, adverbs, auxiliaries or subordinate clauses – i.e. complex sentences. In every section there are “grammatical notes”, “tables”, “examples”, “paradigms”, and “conversations”. The “conversations” and the “texts” always include more than what has been introduced in the preceding sections.
In this way the book does not appeal to the analytical understanding alone; it also challenges the “intuitive”, “naive” use of the language in its communicative complexity. An analytical approach is possible, because all conversations and texts are accompanied by interlinear translations with morpheme-by-morpheme glosses. The annex consists of interlinearized texts and an index.
The CD-ROM attached to this book includes (a) a small dictionary of about 6,000 items, and (b) sound files. The dictionary covers all words found in this book – plus those items which are known to have a relatively high frequency in the every-day language. The sound files cover all Beja data of the grammar and the text-collection.