Impeccable timing @JohnBenjaminsPublishingCompany – this arrived on my birthday! Well done to the research team, advisors, experiment administrators, cartographers, proof-readers, editors and and everyone else who was involved in this six year project.

This book presents the results of a series of literacy experiments in ten Niger-Congo languages, representing four language families and spanning five countries. It investigates the research question, ”To what extent does full tone marking contribute to oral reading fluency, comprehension and writing accuracy, and does that contribution vary from language to language?”. One of the main findings is that the ethno-literacy profile of the language community and the social profile of the individual are stronger predictors of reading and writing performance than are the linguistic and orthographic profiles of the language. Our data also suggests that full tone marking may be more beneficial for less educated readers and those with less experience of L1 literacy. The book will bring practical help to linguists and literacy specialists in Africa and beyond who are helping to develop orthographies for tone languages. It will also be of interest to cognitive psychologists exploring the reading process, and researchers investigating writing systems.


I’ve just had my first covid vaccination. I phoned the doctor for an appointment and he said “Come right now, we’ve got a slot”.

Here are some photos of a small bridge being built over a marshy area at the entrance to our village. This is a project that the village chief asked me to help with six years ago and it’s taken until now to raise the funds. The residents of the village who live in Lomé also made a financial contribution.

The June gap is a period in England when the spring flowers have faded and the summer blooms are yet to appear. There have nevertheless been and abundance of wild flowers on Daubuz Moors this month: blackberry blossom; broad-leafed marsh orchid; cow parsley; false hawksbeard; germander speedwell; ground ivy (catsfoot); hemlock (water dropwort); herb Robert; Himalayan honeysuckle (pheasant berry); marsh thistle; marsh valerian; marsh woundwort; meadowsweet; purple loosestrife (photo); red campion; scarlet spiderling (not sure – does it grow in Europe?); shakespeare’s musk (field rose); st Johns wart; water crowfoot; water figwort(water betony); wild garlic; wild mustard; wild strawberries.

As restrictions are slowly being relaxed, there are more opportunities to go out and play. On Saturday went kayaking on the Helford river (photo) with my good friends Lee and Pete. A beautiful part of deepest Cornwall that has no childhood memories – I’m only beginning to discover it now half a century later.

This week I’ve been learning to distinguish between meadowsweet, water dropwort, water hemlock, marsh valerian (photo) and cow parsley, which can look quite similar at first sight and are profuse on Daubuz Moors at the moment.

Until recently, if you asked me who “my Doctor” is, I would have said number 3 (Jon Pertwee). But then I looked at the BBC archives and found that all the episodes I remember – including the unforgettable Yeti in the London Underground – were from the 2ndDoctor’s era (Patrick Troughton). I can also just about remember the 1stDoctor (William Hartnell), although I was only four at the time. When the 4thdoctor (Tom Baker) appeared, I was fifteen and dismissed it as being for kids, thereby missing out on the heyday of the original series.

This week I have been using the Jesuit prayer app Pray As You Go for my morning meditation. The music sometimes comes from Africa – Ladysmith Black Mambazo or the Abbey of Keur Moussa – which transports me back to my life in Togo. It is now a full year since I lived in my own house…

The Pray As You Go website also contains a new section called Pray as you stay, a series of meditations for self-isolation during the coronavirus crisis aiming to support listeners during this time of self-isolation, uncertainty and fear and underpinned by the Ignatian practice of finding God in all things.

Editing Wikipedia is a nice distraction during lockdown. I’m particularly interested in helping to reduce the long list of missing topics about Africa. Yesterday this took me, a virtual tourist, to the Benghazi lighthouse on the coast of Libya, the Belessa River that marks part of the boundary between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Matakil Falls in the Central African Republic, and Paris which is home to the Karthala publishing house. If you’d like to edit any of these pages to make them more accurate and substantial, please go ahead, though you will Google in vain for further details about central African waterfalls…

Annual honesty, bluebell, broad-leafed marsh orchid (photo), celandine, cow parsley, fig buttercup, flag iris, forget-me-not, germander speedwell, hawthorn, herb robert, ivy-leafed toadflax, lady’s smock, penciled crane’s bill, primrose, red campion, water crowfoot.