Original Articles

THE LINGUISTS' UNACKNOWLEDGED PROGENY: AFRICAN LITERATURE

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 2, issue 3, 1982 , pages: 1–12
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.1982.10586474
Author(s): Albert Gérard,

Abstract

Unless devoted linguists, most of them Protestant missionaries, had reduced African languages to writing, unless they had shown how they were to be written; unless they had established schools, taught the languages, encouraged the provision of reading matter—many of black Africa's languages would never have outgrown the stage of oral art. As those languages were completely unknown to the outside world, once they had produced a modicum of creative writing, it was likewise the linguists who took on the task of making them known sometimes through brief reviews in a variety of scholarly or educational journals, sometimes even through translations mainly into English. This new stage is now being outgrown as well: African authors have produced a sizeable amount of substantive literature which deserves to be taken seriously as such and examined with competence. The time has come for Departments of African languages to foster in their midst the emergence of scholars who, alongside their linguistic competence, will also be trained in the techniques of literary scholarship (history, analytical and evaluative criticism, comparative studies).

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