A Phonetic Study of West African Languages (Second Edition) by Peter Ladefoged

By Peter Ladefoged

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Extra resources for A Phonetic Study of West African Languages (Second Edition)

Example text

As Curti puts it, “the great Mr Locke,” who “was America’s philosopher during the Revolution period” (1991, 305), “in a real sense remained America’s philosopher” (1991, 332). Given the role that Locke’s writings in general and his Essay in particular have played both in Britain and in America, it is hardly surprising that, as Ashcraft puts it, they “exercised a tremendous influence upon . . the cultural consciousness of individuals several centuries after his death in 1704” (1991, xiii). The parallels between the Anglo cultural scripts proposed here on the basis of linguistic evidence and the quotes from Locke’s Essay with which this chapter is strewn provide, I suggest, striking new evidence of this influence.

This is not, Rihbany tells us, how people speak in the Middle East. “Mere implications which are so common to reserved and guarded speech leave a void in the Oriental heart” (1920, 126). ’” Words like cautious, overcautiousness, guarded, removed, and qualified recur again and again in Rihbany’s discussions of modern Anglo speech, as seen from his native Syrian perspective. 4 The hedges chosen by Rihbany to illustrate the cautious and guarded ways of speaking, which, from a Syrian perspective, strike him as exotic, point in particular to an area of verbal caution that is especially characteristic of modern Anglo culture and that highlights its close links with science, rationalism, and empiricism: the area epitomized by modern English expressions like to the best of my knowledge, to which I turn in the next section.

To quote one characteristic example—a comment on English Anglo culture by the German commentator H. ], of downtoning, which the English conversation has over many generations brought to mastery. ], it is in England almost a worldview [Weltanschauung]. (Bütow 1961, 171) In a similar vein, the Hungarian British writer, social commentator, and satirist George Mikes (1946) described “understatements” as a feature distinguishing native English speakers from foreigners (Huebler 1983, 2). Comments of this kind could easily be dismissed as shallow stereotyping, were they not widely perceived as valid and useful by teachers of English as a nonnative language.

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