XVI, 276 pp.
2 colour maps, 2 colour spectrograms, 1 chart, numerous tables and overviews
Text language: English
This book describes the grammar of Obang, a Niger-Congo language that belongs to a geographically defined group of languages in the Northwest Region of Cameroon known as ‘Grassfields Bantu languages’. Within this group, particularly the dialects of the Befang-Menchum sub-group are linguistically understudied, and so is Obang. Moreover, the language Obang is still unwritten.
The present study, which is the first detailed one of its kind, therefore does not only attempt at providing a comprehensive description of the phonology, morphology and syntax of Obang based on empirical data, but also intends to fit the language in the general picture of Grassfields Bantu with its inherent unique features and in the expansion of Bantu as a whole.
Applying Dixon’s ‘Basic Linguistic Theory’ (1997) which has the advantage of describing each language in its own terms rather than forcing it into the framework of other languages, the study is purely descriptive. The collected Obang data demonstrate interesting phenomena, for instance the lengthening of a final vowel as question sign (an aspect of prosody) as well as morphosyntactic phenomena such as stacking of verbal suffixes etc., which have not yet been reported especially for languages of the Grassfields region. Nonetheless, the unique puzzles of the Obang language provided here are typologically and theoretically significant.
Therefore, the present work is also placed within the broad comparative concerns of linguistic typology by adopting both a structural and a functional approach. Structurally, the first parts of the book present the basic units of the language and look at possible variants where necessary and at their combinatorial properties. The later parts then examine the functions of the structural components of the language in higher constructions and emphasize the interplay of communicative needs with the fundamental aspects of the language.