What We Can Learn About the African Languages from „Listy z Afryki” by Henryk Sienkiewicz Cover Image
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Czego możemy się dowiedzieć o języku mieszkańców Czarnego Lądu na podstawie „Listów z Afryki” Henryka Sienkiewicza?
What We Can Learn About the African Languages from „Listy z Afryki” by Henryk Sienkiewicz

Author(s): Danuta Kowalska
Subject(s): Language studies, Language and Literature Studies, Theoretical Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, Polish Literature, Western Slavic Languages
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Summary/Abstract: The aim of the article is to reconstruct the image of African languages presented in „Listy z Afryki” [„Letters from Africa”] by Henryk Sienkiewicz and to analyze the language consciousness of the writer in the context of historical and comparative linguistics, which experienced a period of rapid development at the end of the 19th century. „Letters from Africa” abound in meta‑linguistic digressions regarding the roots of Swahili, language migration, mutual linguistic influences and the resulting appearance of loan words. Moreover, the book includes commentary on the topic of genealogical relationships of languages, the proto‑language and language families. Sienkiewicz, according to the commonplace 19th century beliefs regarding language, understood that language reflects the culture of a particular nation and constitutes the distinguishing element which characterizes different ethnic groups according to their nationality and occupied territory. His attention to detail and dedication to realism, then, necessitates the introduction of various foreign proper names and other words, characteristic phrases or sayings, meant to familiarize the Polish reader with the realities of Africa.

  • Page Range: 325-343
  • Page Count: 19
  • Publication Year: 2018
  • Language: Polish