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Parsons, Frederick William

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0102 PP MS 50
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies
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Full title: Parsons, Frederick William
Date(s): Created 1940s-1970s
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 14 boxes
Name of creator(s): Parsons | Frederick William | 1908-1993 | colonial administrator and linguist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Frederick William Parsons was born on February 9 1908. After studying Classics at Marlborough College, he went to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he gained a first class honours degree in Classical Moderations. He entered the Colonial Administrative Service in the early 1930's and spent 13 years in the northern provinces of Nigeria. In 1946, Parsons was appointed as Lecturer in Hausa at the School of Oriental and African Studies, assisting the Reverend George Percival Bargery in the provision of language training for colonial officials. He was appointed Reader in Hausa in 1965, a position he held until he retired in 1975. He is universally recognised as the pivotal figure in Hausa linguistic studies during the post-Second World War period. He died in 1993.

Parsons is probably best known for his influential publications on the Hausa verbal system: Afrika und Ubersee 44(1): 1-36, 1960; Afrika und Ubersee 55(1/2): 44-96; Afrika und Ubersee 55(3): 188-208, 1971/2; Journal of African Language, 1(2): 253-72, 1962, and also on the operation of grammatical gender: African Languages Studies, 1960/61/63, 1: 117-36, 2: 100-24, 4: 166-207. His earlier (1959) translation into Hausa of the Northern Nigerian Penal Code is also widely recognised as an outstanding piece of scholarship.

Publications on Parson's work include Writings on Hausa Grammar: the Collected Papers of F. W. Parsons (Graham Furniss & Ann Arbor, ed., University Microfilms, 1981), and Studies in Hausa Language and Linguistics (Graham Furniss & Philip J. Jaggar ed., Kegan Paul International, London, 1988).


Scope and content/abstract:

Research and teaching materials, 1940s-1970s, created by F. W. Parsons, relating to his work on the Hausa language. They reflect his knowledge of Hausa grammar and include writings on a variety of topics including syntax, semantics, morphology and phonology.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English and Hausa

System of arrangement:

The papers have been arranged in the following categories: nouns; verbs; modal particles; adverbs and function words; word categories; phonology; morphology; syntax; classification of Hausa; schemes for planned books on Hausa; reviews, reports; vocabularies, exercises, translations, record transcripts; miscellaneous.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids:

Unpublished handlist.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Donated in 1993.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds papers of George Percival Bargery (Ref: MS 380516) and Roy Clive Abraham (Ref: MS 193280) relating to African languages.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
16 May 2000

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