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Egbunu, Fidelis Eleojo. Language Problem in African Philosophy: The Igala Case
2014, Journal of Educational and Social Research. 4 (3): 363-371.
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Added by: Sara Peppe and Björn Freter
Abstract: The Language Question is a very central subject of discourse in African Philosophy. This is consequent upon the fact that the essence of language in philosophy cannot be gainsaid. Language, as it were, is culture bound. As such, to deny a people of their language is to deny them their cultural heritage. While applying the descriptive and analytic method in this work, it is contended that language plays not only a catalyzing role in the art of philosophizing but that it occupies an inalienable place in philosophy. Again, that since philosophy is more or less about resolving “conceptual cramps” or “bottle-necks”, indigenous languages should be given a pride of place over and against their foreign counterparts because of the obvious epistemological advantages embedded therein (especially in mother-tongues). It is submitted here that a lot of homework need to be done in terms of advocacy and development on the low status of such languages so as to meet up with the international standard and nature of the discipline. Meanwhile, the need for using a language that engenders understanding across ethnic barriers alongside the language of the environment is being advocated as a short-term measure. This is not without sounding a caveat that such a transfer of knowledge which is often fraught with some degree of adulteration via the instrument of translation, though practicable, is far from being the ideal. It is on this token the opinions of experts such as Barry Hallen, Quine and a host of others on Methods of Ordinary Language Philosophy and Indeterminacy, respectively are being advanced as plausible means of meeting the challenges before us. In this manner, while using the Igala language of Central Nigeria as a case study, it is finally submitted that it is possible to have what we might term authentic African Philosophy emerging from a systematic analysis of our traditional worldviews.

Comment: This paper examines the issue of language in African Philosophy and highlights that language and culture are closely linked. Indeed, in paragraph 2, Egbonu studies the term “language”, underlining that language has to do with people’s identity and culture. Also, the author explains that language has a crucial role in philosophising, with African indigenous languages that should have a major role in African philosophy since it expresses the cultural heritage of African people. Egbunu focuses on the case of Igala people, where the meaning of the words they use is not the same when we translate them. But, Egbunu also underlines that language is not the only way to determine what should be considered authentic African philosophy. Indeed, it is argued that language does not determine whether African philosophy is authentic or not. Instead, authentic African philosophy is the philosophy applied to the conceptual issues of the African experience.

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Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y.. The Language Situation in Africa Today
1993, Nordic Journal of African Studies. 2 (1): 79–86.
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Abstract: The African continent and the nearby islands constitute one-fourth of the land surface of the earth. Approximately 460 million people live in Africa which is about 11% of the world's population. Of the estimated 6,200 languages and dialects in the world, 2,582 languages and 1,382 dialects are found in Africa. Some languages in Africa are spoken by more than 20 or 30 million people, e.g. Hausa-Fulani, Oromo/Galla and Swahili. Arabic is the most widely spread language on the continent and it is the mothertongue of more than 110 million Africans, whereas in Asia there are only half as many native speakers of Arabic. More than 50 languages are spoken by more than one million speakers each; and a couple of hundred languages are spoken by small groups of a few thousand, or a few hundred people. These small languages are disappearing at a fast rate. Altogether only 146 vernaculars are used as "operative languages" in different situations, and 82 of them are classified by linguists as "highest priority languages", i.e. they are used as "local languages" in different contexts by various authorities, aid organisations and non- governmental organisations (NGOs) in their projects and campaigns. Of the latter, 41 languages are widely used as "lingua franca" for inter-ethnic, regional and/or international communication. All African languages compete with metropolitan/colonial languages, as well as with pidgin and creoles. However, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) has recommended 50 languages to be supported along with Arabic and Swahili as the only native African working languages. The lingua francas in Africa are of two types: Type A is spread by Africans, e.g. Amharic, Hausa, Swahili and Wolof; while Type B is spread through foreign influence, e.g. Lingala and Swahili during the colonial period. Most lingua francas have both Type A and B features, and the common denominator for them all is that they have been, and many of them are today, languages which were used by soldiers and warrior groups and African conquerors, languages which were later employed by European colonialists in their African armies.

Comment: This article provides an outlook on the languages of Africa, highlighting that the African continent is multi-lingual since there is a huge number of languages and dialects. Plus, the paper clarifies that together with the autochthonous languages, colonialism introduced European languages, increasing the number of languages used. The importance of this article is that it elucidates the impact of the acquis of languages in Africa on politics, education and development. This is linked with the issue of African languages in African philosophy too.

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Mabe, Jacob Emmanuel. The Situation of the Indigenous African Languages as a Challenge for Philosophy
2020, Philosophy Study. 10 (10): 667-677.
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Added by: Sara Peppe and Björn Freter
Abstract: In view of the increasing demands for the rehabilitation and promotion of indigenous African languages, a philosophical answer to the question of what can and should be done to effectively counteract the continuing marginalization of languages is often required. Despite the relatively successful coexistence of African and European languages, which has produced mixed languages, all measures must be taken to ensure that the native languages of Africa are used in the future as a means of expressing Africa’s identities and worldviews. This chapter tries to show how the philosophy of convergence can contribute to overcome the language dilemma in Africa.

Comment: This article treats the theme of the marginalization of African indigenous languages in African philosophy and proposes a way of solving this issue through transcription and semantic transmission applied in philosophical translation. Plus, the paper highlights that to solve marginalization, Africa urgently needs a policy on languages that encourages the use of native languages. This would be helpful for African philosophy since, in this way, African thinkers can express African patterns of thinking, values, cultural heritage and identity.

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Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. Decolonising the Mind. The Politics of Language in African Literature
1986, London: James Curry, Nairobi: Heineman Kenya, Portsmouth: Heinemann, Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House
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Publisher’s Note: Decolonising the Mind is a collection of essays about language and its constructive role in national culture, history, and identity. The book, which advocates for linguistic decolonization, is one of Ngũgĩ’s best-known and most-cited non-fiction publications, helping to cement him as a pre-eminent voice theorizing the “language debate” in post-colonial studies. Ngũgĩ describes the book as “a summary of some of the issues in which I have been passionately involved for the last twenty years of my practice in fiction, theatre, criticism, and in teaching of literature…” Decolonising the Mind is split into four essays: “The Language of African Literature,” “The Language of African Theatre,” “The Language of African Fiction,” and “The Quest for Relevance.”

Comment: The papers in this volume were foundational for the post-colonial debate on African language.

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Phindile, Dlamini, Nomsa Dlamini. Exploring explicitation and amplification in translated literary texts from English into isiZulu
2021, South African Journal of African Languages 41(3): 287-293.
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Added by: Sara Peppe and Björn Freter
Abstract: This article focuses on two translation techniques, namely explicitation and amplification. Substantial research has been conducted using these translation techniques in languages other than indigenous languages of South Africa. These two techniques were explored in a translation from English into isiZulu, using Brenda Munitich’s The Fisherman, which is translated into isiZulu as ‘Umdobi’. Besides giving a clear understanding of the two translation techniques (explicitation and amplification), the article shows how these techniques can facilitate the translation of texts from English into isiZulu. Further, it shows how translators can use these techniques to improve the quality of their translations, especially expressive texts.

Comment: This text offers a practical approach to translation from English to isiZulu. It proposes two translation techniques, i.e., explicitation and amplification that are able to help translators to improve the quality of their translations. It has been included because it enables students to have a clear idea of the state of the art in the field of translation practices from English to an indigenous language, i.e., isiZulu.

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Rettovà, Alena. Afrophone philosophies: possibilities and practice. The reflexion of philosophical influences in Euphrase Kezilahabi’s Nagona and Mzingile
2004, Swahili Forum 11: 45-68
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Abstract: My paper is divided into two parts. In the first part, I will define the basic concepts, such as “African philosophy” and “Afrophone philosophies”, their relationship and the general context of the debate on “African philosophy”. I anticipate my definition here and say that “Afrophone philosophies” are those discourses that are the medium of philosophical reflexion in a given culture. Thus in the second part of my paper, I will concentrate on one specific case of a philosophical reflexion, that of reflecting philosophical influences in the late works of Euphrase Kezilahabi, Nagona (1990) and Mzingile (1991).

Comment: Rettová offers an overview of the concepts of "African philosophy" and "Afrophone philosophies", helping the reader grasp these concepts. Moreover, part of the paper aims to look at the Swahili-speaking societies and how they are influenced by Western philosophy. The discussion involves considering the late works of Euphrase Kezilahabi.

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Tangwa, Godfrey. Revisiting the Language Question in African Philosophy
2017, Adeshina Afolayan, Toyin Falola (eds.): The Palgrave Handbook of African Philosophy, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 129-140
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Abstract: One of the multiple effects of colonialism in Africa was the suppression and marginalization of African indigenous languages and the imposition and valorization of colonial languages which thus became the exclusive vectors of modern education, religious proselytization, and international communication and dialogue. After independence, this language situation led to a series of debates centered on what should be the appropriate language of pedagogy, scholarship, and artistic expression in Africa. Having successfully struggled against colonialism, should Africans continue using the colonially imposed foreign languages for their teaching, knowledge production, artistic and literary expression, to the continued detriment of the colonially marginalized indigenous languages? In this chapter, Tangwa revisits the language problematic in Africa from the vantage position of one who had actively participated in the language debates in the early 1990s. Tangwa briefly considers the purpose, functions, and uses of language in general, the relationship between language and culture, and the polar positions in the language debate in Africa. The chapter ends with a brief examination of the contemporary situation in the evolution of the language problem and makes a recommendation on what appears to be the only way forward.

Comment: An up-to-date, concise and solid overview of the language problem in African philosophy.

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Wiredu, Kwasi. The Need for Conceptual Decolonization in African Philosophy
1995, Kwasi Wiredu: Conceptual Decolonization in African Philosophy. Four Essays, selected and introduced by Olusegun Oladipo. Ibadan: Hope Publications, 22-32
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Abstract:

Wiredu argues for a conceptual decolonization. This means, "[o]n the negative side, avoiding or reversing through a critical conceptual self-awareness the unexamined assimilation in our thought (that is, in the thought of contemporary African philosophers) of the conceptual frameworks embedded in the foreign philosophical traditions that have had an impact on African life and thought. And, on the positive side, I mean exploiting as much as is judicious the resources of our own indigenous conceptual schemes in our philosophical meditations on even the most technical problems of contemporary philosophy. But I cite it first because the necessity for decolonization was brought upon us in the first place by the historical superimposition of foreign categories of thought on African thought systems through colonialism.« (Wiredu 1992, 22) »This superimposition has come through three principal avenues. The first one is the avenue of language.« (Wiredu 1992, 22) The second one is religion and the third one politics."

Comment: One of the many seminal papers by one of the most influential African philosophers of Decolonisation. It addresses, in Wiredu's words, the problem of "historical superimposition of foreign categories of thought on African thought systems through colonialism".

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