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- Ijoid
- Kordofanian
- Kru
- Kwa
- Mande
- Ubangi
- Dogon/Mpre/Pre

General stuff



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The distribution of Niger-Congo languages
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Niger-Congo languages

There are some 1000-1500 Niger-Congo (Niger-Kordofanian) languages spoken from western Africa via eastern Africa to southern Africa. They are commonly divided into a number of subgroups as follows (cfr Williamson 1989 and Williamson & Blench 2000):

  • Volta-Congo languages:
    • Adamawa -- some 40-60 languages
    • Benue-Congo -- some 700-900 languages, incl. 500-700 Bantoid languages (which includes 400-500 Bantu languages)
    • Gur -- some 100 languages, or less
    • Kru -- some 30-40 languages
    • Kwa -- some 40-60 languages
    • Ubangi -- some 40-50 languages
  • Atlantic -- between 40-60 languages
  • Ijoid -- less than 10 languages
  • Kordofanian -- some 15-20 languages
  • Mande -- some 40-50 languages

To these we may add the following remnant and/or hitherto unclassified Niger-Congo languages:


Bendor-Samuel, John Theodor. (Ed.) 1989. The Niger-Congo languages: a classification and description of Africa's largest language family. University Press of America, by arrangement with the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL).

Heine, Bernd; Schadeberg, Thilo C.; Wolff, Ekkehard. (Eds.) 1981. Die Sprachen Afrikas, Bd 1: Niger-Kordofanisch. Helmut Buske Verlag.

Perrot, Jean. (Ed.) 1981. Les langues dans le monde ancien et moderne, v. 1 : les languages de l'Afrique subsaharienne. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).

Westermann, Diedrich. 1927. Die westlichen Sudansprachen und ihre Beziehungen zum Bantu. Mitteilungen des Seminars für orientalische Sprachen, Beiheft 29. Walter de Gruyter & Co.

Westermann, Diedrich; Bryan, Margaret Arminel. 1952. The languages of West Africa. Handbook of African languages, part 2. Dawsons of Pall Mall for the International African Institute (IAI).

Williamson, Kay. 1989. Niger-Congo overview. In: The Niger-Congo languages (ed. by John Theodor Bendor-Samuel), p. 3-45. University Press of America, by arrangement with the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL).

Williamson, Kay; Blench, Roger M. 2000. Niger-Congo. In: African languages: an introduction (ed. by Bernd Heine & Derek Nurse), p. 11-42. Cambridge University Press.

General, comparative, miscellaneous back to top »

Niger-Congo languages, according to SIL's Ethnologue.

Niger-Congo languages, according to Wikipedia.

Felix Ameka
The multiverb constructions in a West African areal typological perspective (PDF). Online proceedings of TROSS03, Trondheim Summer School, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Rose-Juliet Anyanwu, 2001
On the manifestation of stress in African languages (PDF). Paper presented at TAPS (Typology of African Prosodic Systems), University of Bielefeld, May 2001.

Roger M. Blench, 2003
Index and classification to Westermann's Niger-Congo reconstructions (PDF). Mallam Dendo, Cambridge.

Roger M. Blench, 2004
Is Niger-Congo simply a branch of Nilo-Saharan? (PDF). Mallam Dendo, Cambridge. (Originally published 1995 in the proceedings of the 5th international Nilo-Saharan linguistics colloquium, 1992.)

Roger M. Blench, 2004
Further evidence for Niger-Saharan and the problem of pan-African roots (PDF). Mallam Dendo, Cambridge.

Roger M. Blench, 2004
Niger-Saharan: additional glosses (PDF). Mallam Dendo, Cambridge.

Roger M. Blench, 2006
The Niger-Saharan macrophylum (PDF). Mallam Dendo, Cambridge.

C. Chanard
Systèmes alphabétiques des langues africaines d'après "Alphabets des langues africaines", Unesco-SIL 1993. LLACAN (Langage, Langues et Cultures d'Afrique Noire).

Denis Creissels, 2005
S-O-V-X constituent order and constituent order alternations in West African languages (PDF). Proceedings of the 31st annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, February 2005.

Haig Der-Houssikian, 1972
The evidence for a Niger-Congo hypothesis. Cahiers d'études africaines, v. 12, p. 316-322.

István Fodor, 1968
La classification des langues négro-africaines et le théorie de J.H. Greenberg. Cahiers d'études africaines, v. 8, p. 617-631.

Dafydd Gibbon, 2001
Computational phonology and the typology of West African tone systems (PDF). Paper presented at TAPS (Typology of African Prosodic Systems), University of Bielefeld, May 2001.

Tom Güldemann
The Macro-Sudan Belt: towards identifying a linguistic area in northern sub-Saharan Africa (PDF). From: Africa as a linguistic area. Edited by Bernd Heine and Derek Nurse.

Larry M. Hyman, 2007
Niger-Congo verb extensions: overview and discussion (PDF). Selected proceedings of the 37th annual conference on African linguistics. Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

Harry Hamilton Johnston, 1919/22
A comparative study of the Bantu and semi-Bantu languages (PDF). Oxford.

Alain Kihm
Noun class, gender, and the lexicon-syntax-morphology interfaces: a comparative study of Niger-Congo and Romance languages (PDF). Manuscrit. Laboratoire de Linguistique Formelle, Université de Paris-7.

Jouni Maho, 2006
Niger-Congo noun class studies: a bibliographical survey (PDF).

Kenneth S. Olson, 2004
An evaluation of Niger-Congo classification (PDF). SIL electronic survey report SILESR 2004-005.

Kenneth S. Olson, John Hajek, 2001
The geographic and genetic distribution of the labial flap (PDF). SIL electronic working paper SILEWP 2001-002.

Henry Tourneux, 1994
Les langues africaines et l'égyptien (PDF). Politique africaine, n. 55, p. 153-158.

Andy Warren-Rothlin, 2007
Politeness strategies in Biblical Hebrew and West African languages (PDF). Journal of translation, v. 3, p. 55-71.

Web sources for individual languages back to top »

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