Narrow Bantu

Narrow Bantu languages

In the classification of African languages, Narrow Bantu is a term commonly used to designate the branch of Niger-Congo containing the numerous Bantu languages as recognized by Guthrie (1948) in his seminal classification of the Bantu languages. The term 'Narrow Bantu' was coined by the Benue-Congo Working Group to distinguish the group from other Bantu-like languages not recognized as such by Guthrie (1948). In recent times, the distinctness of Narrow Bantu as opposed to the other Southern Bantoid groups has been called into doubt (cf. Piron 1995), but the term is still widely used, for example by the Ethnologue.


  • Guthrie, Malcolm (1948) The classification of the Bantu languages. London: Oxford University Press for the International African Institute.
  • Piron, Pascale (1995) 'Identification lexicostatistique des groupes Bantoïdes stables.' Journal of West African Languages, 25, 2, 3–39.

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