Africa and the Africans in the Nineteenth Century: A Turbulent History

By Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch; Mary Baker | Go to book overview

Note on the Transcription
of Proper Nouns

Linguistic harmonization is a sensitive issue, and all the more problematic since there is no consensus among historians and different countries that use different systems. For lack of a better solution, we have opted for very simple spelling generally based on pronunciation rules in English. Most often the names of geographical locations and historical personalities have colonial origins, though they have sometimes been corrected by contemporary historiography (e.g., “Tukuloor” instead of “Toucouleur”). We have tried to adopt a neutral spelling for the names of peoples that are supposed to have been transcribed from African languages (e.g., “Yoruba” and “Wolof”), and Anglicized words created through colonization (e.g., “Tuareg”). After much hesitation, we have nonetheless sometimes kept spellings that have been imposed by usage. Finally, we have minimized transcriptions from Arabic and Pular; indeed, the plural of “Fulani” should be “Fulbe” in simplified international transcription: we adopted a common word, Fulani, although these people are known by various names according to the language and area. It would be impossible to require the reader (and the author!) to be competent in all of Africa’s languages.

-xix-

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