When it was first published in 1968, this monograph was among the most important contributions to the area of phonetic research in Africa since the publication of Westermann and Ward's Practical Phonetics for Students of African Languages in 1933. Drawing from a sample of sixty-one West African languages, Dr Ladefoged offers a description of the phonetic elements that cause differences in lexical and grammatical meaning. In particular, he focuses on unusual sounds, highlighting their linguistic function and providing a detailed account of their application in the languages concerned. Supplementing Dr Ladefoged's analyses are a number of helpful diagrams and illustrations as well as two appendices and a bibliography.
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