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The Languages of Africa

The Languages of Africa is a 1963 book of essays by Joseph Greenberg, in which he sets forth a genetic classification of African languages that, with some changes, continues to be the most commonly used one today. It is an expanded and extensively revised version of his 1955 work Studies in African Linguistic Classification, which was itself a compilation of eight articles which Greenberg had published in the Southwestern Journal of Anthropology between 1949 and 1954. It was first published in 1963 as Part II of the International Journal of American Linguistics, Vol. 29, No. 1; however, its second edition of 1966, in which it was published (by Indiana University, Bloomington: Mouton & Co., The Hague) as an independent work, is more commonly cited.

Its author describes it as based on three fundamentals of method:

  • "The sole relevance in comparison of resemblances involving both sound and meaning in specific forms."
  • "Mass comparison as against isolated comparisons between pairs of languages."
  • "Only linguistic evidence is relevant in drawing conclusions about classification."

The second point, mass comparison, is controversial in historical linguistics. The third is completely uncontroversial in modern times, and is directed against previous African linguists (notably Meinhof) who had classified languages on typological and even racial grounds.

Novelties

His Niger-Congo family was substantially foreshadowed by Westermann's "Western Sudanic", but he changed the subclassification, including Fulani (as West Atlantic) and the newly postulated Adamawa-Eastern, excluding Songhai, and classifying Bantu as merely a subfamily of Benue-Congo (previously termed "Semi-Bantu").

Semitic, Berber, Egyptian, and Cushitic had been generally accepted as members of a "Hamito-Semitic" family, while Chadic, "Nilo-Hamitic", Fulani, and Hottentot had all been controversially proposed as members. He accepted Chadic (while changing its membership), and rejected the other three, establishing to most linguists' satisfaction that they had been classified as "Hamitic" for purely typological reasons. This demonstration also led to the rejection (by him and by linguistics as a whole) of the term Hamitic as having no coherent meaning in historical linguistics; as a result, he renamed the newly reclassified family "Afroasiatic". This has since been emended by changing the status of "Western Cushitic", making it an independent subfamily of Afroasiatic called Omotic.

Following Schapera and rejecting Meinhof, he classified Hottentot as a member of the Central Khoisan languages. To Khoisan he also added the much more northerly Hatsa and Sandawe; this change remains controversial, and is widely considered inadequately founded.

His most revolutionary step was the postulation of the Nilo-Saharan phylum; this is still highly controversial, despite the publication of claimed reconstructions of the family, but is widely used. Within this, he identified a major subgroup termed Chari-Nile, containing Eastern Sudanic, Central Sudanic, Kunama, and Berta; this has been generally rejected. On a lower level, he placed "Nilo-Hamitic" firmly within Nilotic, following a suggestion of Köhler, and placed Eastern Sudanic on a firmer foundation.

Finally, he assigned the non-Nilo-Saharan languages of the Nuba Hills of Kordofan to a single subfamily (Kordofanian), which together with Niger-Congo formed a new phylum, Congo-Kordofanian. This is generally accepted, with the exception of the "Tumtum" group, although it is unclear whether Kordofanian or Mande was the first branching.

Classification

The book classifies Africa's languages into four stocks not presumed to be related, as follows:

I. Congo-Kordofanian
I.A Niger-Congo
I.A.1 West Atlantic
I.A.1.a Northern: Wolof, Serer-Sin, Fulani, Serer-Non, Konyagi, Basari, Biafada, Badyara (Pajade), Dyola, Mandyak, Balante, Banyun, Nalu, Cobiana, Cassanga, Bidyogo.
I.A.1.b Southern: Temne, Baga, Landoma, Kissi, Bulom, Limba, Gola
I.A.2 Mande
I.A.2.a Western
I.A.2.a.1 Soninke, Malinke, Bambara, Dyula, Numu, Ligbi, Huela, Vai, Kono, Koranko, Khasonke, Susu, Dyalonke
I.A.2.a.2 Sya
I.A.2.a.3 Mande, Loko, Gbandi, Gbunde, Loma, Kpelle (Guerze)
I.A.2.b Eastern
I.A.2.b.1 Mano, Dan (Gio), Kweni (Guro), Mwa, Nwa.
I.A.2.b.2 Samo, Bisa, Busa, Kayla Daire
I.A.3 Voltaic
I.A.3.a Senoufo: Minianka, Tagba, Foro, Tagwana (Takponin), Dyimini, Nafana
I.A.3.b. Lobi-Dogon: Lobi, Dyan, Puguli, Gan, Gouin, Turuka, Doghosie, Doghosie-Fing, Kyan, Tara, Bwamu, Wara, Natioro, Dogon (1966: "should probably be considered a new separate subgroup. If anything, it is nearest to group c"), Kulango
I.A.3.c Grusi: Awuna, Kasena, Nunuma, Lyele, Tamprusi, Kanjaga (Bulea) (moved to group d), Degha, Siti, Kurumba (Fulse), Sisala
I.A.3.d Mossi, Dagomba, Kusasi, Nankanse, Talensi, Mamprusi, Wala, Dagari, Birifo, Namnam, Kanjaga (Bulea) (moved from group c)
I.A.3.e Tem, Kabre, Delo, Chala
I.A.3.f Bargu (Bariba)
I.A.3.g Gurma, Tobote (Basari), Kasele (Chamba), Moba
I.A.4 Kwa
I.A.4.a Kru: Bete, Bakwe, Grebo, Bassa, De, Kru (Krawi)
I.A.4.b Avatime, Nyangbo, Tafi, Logba, Likpe, Ahlo, Akposo, Lefana, Bowili, Akpafu, Santrokofi, Adele, Kebu, Anyimere, Ewe, Aladian, Avikam, Gwa, Kyama, Akye, Ari, Abe, Adyukru, Akan (Twi, Anyi, Baule, Guang, Metyibo, Abure), Ga, Adangme
I.A.4.c Yoruba, Igala
I.A.4.d Nupe, Gbari, Igbira, Gade
I.A.4.e Bini, Ishan, Kukuruku, Sobo
I.A.4.f Idoma, Agatu, Iyala
I.A.4.g Ibo
I.A.4.h Ijo
I.A.5 Benue-Congo
I.A.5.A Plateau
I.A.5.A.1
I.A.5.A.1.a Kambari, Dukawa, Dakakari, Basa, Kamuku, Reshe
I.A.5.A.1.b Piti, Janji, Kurama, Chawai, Anaguta, Buji, Amap, Gure, Kahugu, Ribina, Butawa, Kudawa
I.A.5.A.2 Afusare, Irigwe, Katab, Kagoro, Kaje, Kachicheri, Morwa, Jaba, Kamantan, Kadara, Koro, Afo
I.A.5.A.3 Birom, Ganawuri (Aten)
I.A.5.A.4 Rukuba, Ninzam, Ayu, Mada, Kaninkwom
I.A.5.A.5 Eggon, Nungu, Yeskwa
I.A.5.A.6 Kaleri, Pyem, Pai
I.A.5.A.7 Yergam, Basherawa
I.A.5.B Jukunoid: Jukun, Kentu, Nyidu, Tigong, Eregba, Mbembe, Zumper (Kutev, Mbarike), Boritsu
I.A.5.C Cross-River
I.A.5.C.1 Boki, Gayi (Uge), Yakoro
I.A.5.C.2 Ibibio, Efik, Ogoni (Kana), Andoni, Akoiyang, Ododop, Korop
I.A.5.C.3 Akunakuna, Abine, Yako, Asiga, Ekuri, Ukelle, Okpoto-Mteze, Olulomo
I.A.5.D Bantoid: Tiv, Bitare, Batu, Ndoro, Mambila, Bute, Bantu
I.A.6 Adamawa-Eastern
I.A.6.A Adamawa
I.A.6.A.1 Tula, Dadiya, Waja, Cham, Kamu
I.A.6.A.2 Chamba, Donga, Lekon, Wom, Mumbake
I.A.6.A.3 Daka, Taram
I.A.6.A.4 Vere, Namshi, Kolbila, Pape, Sari, Sewe, Woko, Kotopo, Kutin, Durru
I.A.6.A.5 Mumuye, Kumba, Gengle, Teme, Waka, Yendang, Zinna
I.A.6.A.6 Dama, Mono, Mbere, Mundang, Yasing, Mangbei, Mbum, Kpere, Lakka, Dek
I.A.6.A.7 Yungur, Mboi, Libo, Roba
I.A.6.A.8 Kam
I.A.6.A.9 Jen, Munga
I.A.6.A.10 Longuda
I.A.6.A.11 Fali
I.A.6.A.12 Nimbari
I.A.6.A.13 Bua, Nielim, Koke
I.A.6.A.14 Masa
I.A.6.B Eastern
I.A.6.B.1 Gbaya, Manja, Mbaka
I.A.6.B.2 Banda
I.A.6.B.3 Ngbandi, Sango, Yakoma
I.A.6.B.4 Zande, Nzakara, Barambo, Pambia
I.A.6.B.5 Bwaka, Monjombo, Gbanziri, Mundu, Mayogo, Bangba
I.A.6.B.6 Ndogo, Bai, Bviri, Golo, Sere, Tagbo, Feroge, Indri, Mangaya, Togoyo
I.A.6.B.7 Amadi (Madyo, Ma)
I.A.6.B.8 Mondunga, Mba (Bamanga)
I.B Kordofanian
I.B.1 Koalib: Koalib, Kanderma, Heiban, Laro, Otoro, Kawama, Shwai, Tira, Moro, Fungor
I.B.2 Tegali: Tegali, Rashad, Tagoi, Tumale
I.B.3 Talodi: Talodi, Lafofa, Eliri, Masakin, Tacho, Lumun, El Amira
I.B.4 Tumtum: Tumtum, Tuleshi, Keiga, Karondi, Krongo, Miri, Kadugli, Katcha
I.B.5 Katla: Katla, Tima
II. Nilo-Saharan
II.A Songhai
II.B Saharan
II.B.a Kanuri, Kanembu
II.B.b Teda, Daza
II.B.c Zaghawa, Berti
II.C Maban: Maba, Runga, Mimi (of Nachtigal), Mimi (of Gaudefroy-Demombynes)
II.D. Fur
II.E. Chari-Nile
II.E.1 Eastern Sudanic
II.E.1.1 Nubian
II.E.1.1.a Nile Nubian (Mahas-Fadidja and Kenuzi-Dongola)
II.E.1.1.b Kordofanian Nubian: Dair, Dilling, Gulfan, Garko, Kadero, Kundugr
II.E.1.1.c Midob
II.E.1.1.d Birked
II.E.1.2 Murle (Beir), Longarim, Didinga, Suri, Mekan, Murzu, Surma (including Tirma and Zulmanu), Masongo
II.E.1.3 Barea
II.E.1.4 Ingassana (Tabi)
II.E.1.5 Nyima, Afitti
II.E.1.6 Temein, Teis-um-Danab
II.E.1.7 Merarit, Tama, Sungor
II.E.1.8 Dagu of Darfur, Baygo, Sila, Dagu of Dar Dagu (Wadai), Dagu of Western Kordofan, Njalgulgule, Shatt, Liguri
II.E.1.9 Nilotic
II.E.1.9.a Western
II.E.1.9.a.1 Burun
II.E.1.9.a.2 Shilluk, Anuak, Acholi, Lango, Alur, Luo, Jur, Bor
II.E.1.9.a.3 Dinka, Nuer
II.E.1.9.b Eastern
II.E.1.9.b.1 Bari, Fajulu, Kakwa, Mondari
II.E.1.9.b.2a Jie, Dodoth, Karamojong, Teso, Topotha, Turkana
II.E.1.9.b.2b Masai
II.E.1.9.b.3 Southern: Nandi, Suk, Tatoga (but text says this is not a subgroup of Eastern, suggesting that this should rather be II.E.1.9.c)
II.E.1.10 Nyangiya, Teuso
II.E.2 Central Sudanic
II.E.2.1 Bongo, Baka, Morokodo, Beli, Gberi, Sara dialects (Madjinngay, Gulai, Mbai, Gamba, Kaba, Dendje, Laka), Vale, Nduka, Tana, Horo, Bagirmi, Kuka, Kenga, Disa, Bubalia
II.E.2.2 Kreish
II.E.2.3 Binga, Yulu, Kara
II.E.2.4 Moru, Avukaya, Logo, Keliko, Lugbara, Madi
II.E.2.5 Mangbetu, Lombi, Popoi, Makere, Meje, Asua
II.E.2.6 Mangbutu, Mamvu, Lese, Mvuba, Efe
II.E.2.7 Lendu
II.E.3 Berta
II.E.4 Kunama
II.F Koman/Coman: Koma, Ganza, Uduk, Gule, Gumuz, Mao
III. Afroasiatic
III.A Semitic
III.B Egyptian
III.C Berber
III.D Cushitic
III.D.1 Northern Cushitic: Beja (Bedauye)
III.D.2 Central Cushitic: Bogo (Bilin), Kamir, Khamta, Awiya, Damot, Kemant, Kayla, Quara
III.D.3 Eastern Cushitic: Saho-Afar, Somali, Galla, Konso, Geleba, Marille, (Reshiat, Arbore), Gardula, Gidole, Gowaze, Burji, Sidamo, Darasa, Kambata, Alaba, Hadya, Tambaro, Mogogodo (added 1966)
III.D.4 Western Cushitic: Janjero, Wolamo, Zala, Gofa, Basketo, Baditu, Haruro, Zaysse, Chara, Gimira, Benesho, Nao, Kaba, Shako, She, Maji, Kafa, Garo, Mocha, Anfillo (Mao), Shinasha, Bako, Amar, Bana, Dime, Gayi, Kerre, Tsamai, Doko, Dollo
III.D.5 Southern Cushitic: Burungi (Mbulungu), Goroa (Fiome), Alawa (Uwassi), Iraqw, Mbugu, Sanye, Ngomvia (added 1966)
III.E Chad
III.E.1
III.E.1.a Hausa, Gwandara
III.E.1.b Ngizim, Mober, Auyokawa, Shirawa, Bede
III.E.1.c
III.E.1.c.i Warjawa, Afawa, Diryawa, Miyawa, Sirawa
III.E.1.c.ii Gezawa, Seiyawa, Barawa of Dass
III.E.1.d
III.E.1.d.i Bolewa, Karekare, Ngamo, Gerawa, Gerumawa, Kirifawa, Dera (Kanakuru), Tangale, Pia, Pero, Chongee, Maha (added 1966)
III.E.1.d.ii Angas, Ankwe, Bwol, Chip, Dimuk, Goram, Jorto, Kwolla, Miriam, Montol, Sura, Tal, Gerka
III.E.1.d.iii Ron
III.E.2 Kotoko group: Logone, Ngala, Buduma, Kuri, Gulfei, Affade, Shoe, Kuseri
III.E.3 Bata-Margi group
III.E.3.a Bachama, Demsa, Gudo, Malabu, Njei (Kobochi, Nzangi, Zany), Zumu (Jimo), Holma, Kapsiki, Baza, Hiji, Gude (Cheke), Fali of Mubi, Fali of Kiria, Fali of Jilbu, Margi, Chibak, Kilba, Sukur, Vizik, Vemgo, Woga, Tur, Bura, Pabir, Podokwo
III.E.3.b Gabin, Hona, Tera, Jera, Hinna (Hina)
III.E.4
III.E.4.a Hina, Daba, Musgoi, Gauar
III.E.4.b Gisiga, Balda, Muturua, Mofu, Matakam
III.E.5 Gidder
III.E.6 Mandara, Gamergu
III.E.7 Musgu
III.E.8 Bana, Banana (Masa), Lame, Kulung
III.E.9
III.E.9.a Somrai, Tumak, Ndam, Miltu, Sarwa, Gulei
III.E.9.b Gabere, Chiri, Dormo, Nangire
III.E.9.c Sokoro (Bedanga), Barein
III.E.9.d Modgel
III.E.9.e Tuburi
III.E.9.f Mubi, Karbo, (added 1966: Jegu, Jonkor, Wadai-Birgid)
IV Khoisan
IV.A South African Khoisan
IV.A.1 Northern South African Khoisan
IV.A.2 Central South African Khoisan
IV.A.3 Southern South African Khoisan
IV.B Sandawe
IV.C Hatsa

References

  • Greenberg, Joseph H. (1963) The Languages of Africa. International journal of American linguistics, 29, 1, part 2.
  • Greenberg, Joseph H. (1966) The Languages of Africa (2nd ed. with additions and corrections). Bloomington: Indiana University.

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