This is intended to be a collection of papers the origin of which is the set of lectures given by selected scholars from different Universities of Europe at Charles University in Prague in 1997-1998 on present-day problems of language classification and description, with particular attention to Africa. In these lectures, particular attention is paid to languages, language families/or branches and areas the status of which still remains to some extent open to discussion, despite years of more or less concentrated and concerted efforts. Several lectures are devoted to problematic languages, language branches, families and areas of Africa south of the Sahara, which is a region where even today open options in language classification and description remain almost as frequent as cases of the firmly and reliably established ones. This volume is based on genuine experience in describing the languages concerned. This volume does not intend to re-open the past confrontations between the genetic and the areal approach to language classification and description, but - rather - to face the new opportunities in their combined efforts, as they can be illustrated on data from problematic dialects, languages, vs. language families and areas.