The Linguist

The Linguist 56,5 – October/November 2017

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Released in 2012, Qaamuuska Af-Soomaaliga is a remarkable testimony to the cooperation between Roma Tre University, staff of the former Department of Languages at the Somali National University and volunteers. Work on the dictionary began in 1985 as a part of Somali-Italian cooperation but was discontinued due to state collapse in Somalia in 1991. Efforts by Somali and Italian scholars associated with the earlier phase of the project made it possible to resume the project, despite the loss of some materials collected before 1991. Lexicographers adopted English alphabetical order for the dictionary entries, following in the footsteps of Yaasiin Cismaan Keenadiid, who edited the first monolingual Somali dictionary in 1976. Annarita Puglielli, Cabdalla Mansuur and other lexicographers drew on the Somali terminology developed after the Somali language had been adopted as a medium of instruction. Every Somali translator and journalist should have this dictionary to avoid making the kinds of spelling errors that litter Somali websites, books, magazines and journals. The editors took great pains to include variant words for entries. Noun entries are identified by gender, not by declension group; learners and native speakers would find more guidance on declension groups useful. This dictionary raises grammar questions about verbs and adjectives. Fiican ('good') is identified as an intransitive verb, while Somali Reference Grammar labels it an adjective. Somali has intransitive verbs with transitive properties, e.g. qadee ('to have a lunch') and mataanee ('to give birth to twins'), but the dictionary identifies them as intransitive and transitive verbs respectively. There are also some issues with irregular verbs. However, these are minor oversights can be addressed by the lexicographers for a second edition, without which standard Somali language cannot make progress. Liban Ahmad MCIL OCTOBER/NOVEMBER The Linguist 25 REVIEWS The recent introduction by the Government of grammar into the primary-school curriculum may strike horror into those of us who sat through interminable grammar lessons in Latin, let alone English. However, David Crystal has brought his usual blend of wit, originality and scholarship to what might be a dry subject but, in his hands, comes to life. For a start, he is critical of those who take a prescriptive line about rules and what should – or must be – written or said. He demonstrates that doubts about such finer points of detail as the apostrophe or semi-colon go back not so much generations (Fowler and Gowers) as centuries, with examples viewed through the mists of time. His treatment of the subject draws in examples from medieval manuscripts and early versions of Shakespeare. Oddly enough, Peter Quince's prologue in A Midsummer Night's Dream demonstrates that the Bard understood the importance of punctuation, as did Marlowe in Edward II with his Edwardum occidere nolite timere, bonum est ('Fear not to kill the King, 'tis good he die'), which condemns the King to death, whereas the comma after nolite would have reprieved him. Dr Crystal gives examples of the heavy and intrusive use of punctuation in the 18th and 19th centuries, while noting that Jane Austen was not too fussy about such points of detail – and Wordsworth asked no less a luminary than Sir Humphry Davy to punctuate his writing for him. Crystal then comes up-to- date with punctuation in emails and texts. The development of commas, punctuation marks and colons are rigorously observed and their origins revealed. In modern times, Crystal looks at the poetry of e e cummings (sic), who uses punctuation marks as part of the text, though he misses Don Marquis and his column in the New York Evening Sun, which first appeared in 1916. Its characters, Archy (the writer who has come back to earth as a cockroach) and Mehitabel (the worldly- wise alley cat), comment on the foibles of the life they see around them. Being a cockroach, Archy can jump on the keys of a typewriter but cannot operate the shift key at the same time, and so the whole column is without punctuation. (They are still in print today.) A light-hearted free-flowing style, added to a lifetime of observation plus the collating of little-known facts about the flora and fauna of the linguistic world, make David Crystal the David Attenborough of language and grammar – and Making a Point is far from pernickety. Professor Tim Connell FCIL CIOL Vice-President Making a Point: The pernickety story of English punctuation David Crystal Profile Books 2016, 378 pp; ISBN 978 1 8125 3519 Paperback £8.99 eBook £7.99 Qaamuuska Af-Soomaaliga/ Somali Monolingual Dictionary Annarita Puglielli & Cabdalla Cumar Mansuur (eds) Centro Studi Somali Università degli Studi Roma Tre 2012, 947 pp; Hardback

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