African Languages, Development and the State

By Richard Fardon; Graham Furniss | Go to book overview

speak Arabic and not Mijikenda; speak this Swahili and not that; incorporate Arabic words rather than Bantu words in Swahili vocabulary. Neither he nor those he admonishes can ever reach this core. All he can ever do is to attempt always to move away from what he regards as the contaminating effects of non-Muslim life and language. But this constant escape, so vividly captured in maulidi sermons given by himself and others (see Parkin 1985), does not in fact evidently bring him closer to the core of Islamic purity that he advocates. Like Zeno’s arrow which, in distancing itself further and further from its point of origin, nevertheless has to move through an infinity of mid-points, this and other maalims seem never to reach the destination. The play on language is, after all, a play on the endlessness of signification. Diglossia comprising high and low diatypes is one such play, which, having a life of its own, may fall through the net of government policy.


REFERENCES
Akinnaso, F.N. and Ogunbiyi, I.A. (1990) ‘The place of Arabic in language planning in Nigeria’, Language Problems and Language Planning 14, 1:1-20.
Baudrillard, J. (1972) Pour une critique de l’économie politique du signe, Paris: Gallimard.
Ferguson, C. (1964) ‘Diglossia’, in D. Hymes (ed.) Language in Culture and Society, New York, Evanston and London: Harper and Row.
Gilsenan, M. (1982) Recognizing Islam: an Anthropologist’s Introduction, London and Sydney: Croom Helm.
Guillaume, A. (1954) Islam, Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin.
Habermas, J. (1983) [1981] ‘Modernity—an incomplete project’, in H. Foster (ed.) Postmodern Culture, London and Sydney: Pluto Press.
Lacunza Balda, J. (1991) ‘Tendances de la littérature islamique swahili’, in Françoise Le Guennec-Coppens and Pat Caplan (eds.) Les Swahili entre Afrique et Arabie, Paris and Nairobi: Credu-Karthala.
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Parkin, D. (1985) ‘Being and selfhood among intermediary Swahili’, in J. Maw and D. Parkin (eds.) Swahili Language and Society, Vienna: Institut für Afrikanistik und Ägyptologie der Universität Wien.
Salim, A.I. (1973) The Swahili-Speaking Peoples of the Kenya Coast 1895-1965, Nairobi: East African Publishing House.
Taussig, M. (1980) The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in SouthAmerica, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Ulin, R.C. (1991) ‘Critical anthropology twenty years later’, Critique of Anthropology 11, 1:63-90.
Wolf, E. (1982) Europe and the People without History, Berkeley: University of California Press.

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