The Niger-Congo Languages

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The Niger-Congo Languages Powered By Docstoc
					The Niger-Congo Languages
            General Information
• According to Ethnoloque
  1,532 languages
• → largest phylum in the
  world
• Occupies larger area than
  any other African phylum
• subclassifications has been
  continuously modified
   – large number of languages
   – inaccessibility of much of
     the data
   – lack of able researchers
Classification
1 Kordofanian
• Kordofanian as fist branch
→lexical evidence for uniting with
   Niger-Congo languages is poor
• Kordofanian are most poorly
   documented languages within
   Niger-Congo
• Small languages
• Spoken in Nuba mountains (Rep.
   of Sudan)
• Many have been replace by
   political insecurity
•Greenberg: 5 groups of languages,
grouped together as Kordofanian
assigned them to Niger-Congo
•Schadeberg (1981c) removed
Kadugli-Krongo/Kadu from
Kordofanian, added it to Nilo-
Saharian
→ 4 remaining groups classified by
Schadeberg (1989)
Schadeberg showed that the noun class affixed correspond
in a regular way to those of the rest of Niger-Congo




                                            Schadeberg (1989)
2 Mande
•Extend over greater part of the
western half of West Africa (Mali,
Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Sierra Leone,
Liberia, also in Burkina Faso,
Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau,
Mauretania, Benin, Ghana, Togo,
Nigeria)
•10 to 12 million speakers
•Over 50% speak Manding
•Most classifications based on
lexicostatistics
→ problems pointed out by
Kastenholz (1991/2)
→ studied lexical innovations to
gain improved classification
    • Mande as part of Niger-Congo
    • Dwyer(1998): Excamination of 603 comparative lexical
      entries
           →leads to table of cognates




From: Dwyer.(1998) The place of Mande in Niger-Congo. In: Language History and Linguistic Description in Africa. Maddison, Hinnebush
(Editors.).
Niger-Congo Cognate Types:
Total Set examined:   603
Probable cognates:    187
Likely cognates:      124
Possible cognates:    128
Conclusion:
• Western Nigrit, Benue-Congo and Mande are lexically
  related
    →lexical coherence
3 Atlantic
• (West-Atlantic in
   Westermann’s classification)
• Spoken along Atlantic
   coastline of West Africa
• Largest languages:
   – Fulfulde (several million
     speakers)
   – Wolof (2 million speakers)
   – Diola (400,000 speakers)
   – Serer (600,000 speakers)
   – Temne (600,000 speakers)
• Classification by Sapir
  (1971) based on
  lexicostatistics
• Three-way division:
  Northern, Southern, Bijago
4 Ijoid
• Small family, only spoken in
    Niger Delta
• Languages:
    – Defaka (endangered),
    – Ijo - language cluster with over
      one million speakers
• Closely related internally, very
   distinct from other Niger-
   Congo languages
5 Dogon
• About half a million speakers
   in Mali & Burkina Faso
• Often referred as single
   language
• Bertho (1953) proposed at
   least 4 languages
   Calame-Griaule (1978) list 5
   groups of dialects
• Ethnologue: 14 Dialects
6 Volta-Congo

6.1 West Volta-Congo
• Contains three families: Kru, Gur,
   Adamawa-Ubangi

    6.1.1 Kru
•   Spoken in the south-west
    quadrant of Côte d'Ivoire, greater
    part of Liberia
•   Between 1 and 2 million speakers
•   Main division: East and West-Kru
•   First classified within Kwa
    (Westermann (1927) and
    Greenberg (1963))
•   Bennett and Sterk (1977)
    suggested is as part of
    North/West Volta-Congo
•   Body of Kru languages are closely
    related
•   Additionally three Kru isolates:
    Kuwaa (north-west) Tiegba &
    Abrako (from Aizi group) (east),
    Sεmε (north)
    6.1.2 Gur
•   Very large family
•   Spoken in south of Mali, northern
    parts of Côte d'Ivoure, Ghana,
    Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria
•   About 5,5 million speakers at
    least 1,7mio speak Mõõre
•   Relationship of the body is quiet
    clear
•   Membership of others is more
    doubtful
    6.1.3 Adamawa-Ubangi
•   Extend from north-west Nigeria
    through northern Cameroon,
    southern Chad, Central African
    Republic northern Gabon,
    Congo, Democratic Republic of
    Congo, south-west Sudan
•   about 1,5 million speakers of
    Adamawa
•   2,3 million speakers of Ubangi
•   Greenberg (1963a) divided
    Adamawa into 14 groups,
    "Eastern" into 8 groups
•   Bennett added group 3
    (containing Daka) to Benue-
    Congo
6.2 East Volta-Congo
• Greenberg (1963a:39) doubted
   the division between Kwa &
   Benue-Congo
   6.2.1 Kwa
• Spoken along Atlantic coast of
   West Africa, south western
   corner of Nigeria, south-eastern
   quadrant of Côte d'Ivoire
• About 20 million speakers
• Greenberg (1963a) divided into 8
   groups, intigrated Central Togo
   languages into his group
• Benett & Sterk (1977) reassigned
   Ijoid and Kru to Benue-Congo
    6.2.2 Benue-Congo
•   Occupy a vast area
•   Greenberg divided into 4
    branches:
     – Platoid
     – Jukunoid
     – Cross River
     – Bantoid
•   Shimizu (1975) and Gerhardt
    (1989) integrated Jukunoid to
    Platoid
•   Bennett and Sterk (1977) added
    eastern branches of Greenberg's
    Kwa
•   → grouped together as "West
    Benue-Congo"
•   → former "Benue-Congo" was
    named "East Benue-Congo"
    6.2.2.1 Bantoid
Term
• First used by Krause in 1895
• → describing languages with similarity in vocabulary of Bantu
• Guthrie (1948) used it for languages with noun class systems resembling
  Bantu (no regular sound correspondence)
• → established “Guthrie Zones”
    – Standart referential scheme
    – Most zones not genetic groups → geographical
• Present meaning goes back to Greenberg
• → Bantu together with its closest relatives ("non-Bantu Bantoid")
Classification

• Benue-Congo working group tried to define in the 1970s and 1980s "Narrow
  Bantu" - the languages recognised by Guthrie as Bantu - as a subgroup of
  "Wide Bantu"
• Blench and Williamson (1988) proposed a basic division within Bantiod is
  between North Bantoid (old "non-Bantu Bantiod" without Tivoid) and South
  Bantoid (all remaining Bantu languages)
• → North Bantu consisting of Mambiloid and Dakoid
• → Dakoid includes Chamba Daka
• Classified by Greenberg as Adamawa, by Bennett (1983) as Benue-Congo
• Blench assigned it to North Bantoid
• Classification of Narrow Bantu is based on lexicostatistics → not overall
  agreed
• Mostly agreed, that there is North-West Bantu (Zones A, B, C and parts of D)
• → those languages are more distinct from the rest and one another
• → ancient splits
• Definition of boundaries between West and East Bantu differs a lot
• Even suggestions for Central Bantu
Problem with these classifications
• Accept arbitrary boundaries of Guthrie
• Piron (1998) presented most recent lexicostatistic classification, including
  samples of all Bantiod groups
• Because of various problems (defective lists, inadequate or
  unrepresentative data) the work suggests different levels of relationships
• South Bantoid appears as coherent group
• Furthest Neightbor method shows a break between (Narrow) Bantu and
  the rest
• Average method splits East
  and South Bantu from
  all the rest
• → further work needed
             Typology and Reconstructions
1 Vowels
•   Niger-Congo languages often show vowel harmony
•   Maximal systems:
•   [+ATR] Vowels: / i e ɜ o u/
•   [-ATR] Vowels: / ɪ ɛ a ɔ ʊ /

• Some systems with only oral vowels, some with both, oral and nasalised
• Always fewer nasalised than oral vowels
• Westermann reconstructed #a #i #u for Proto-West-Sudanic
• → midvowels as later developments from coalescence or assimilation
• Steward (1998) reconstructed *i *ɪ *a *ʊ *u as oral and *i ̃̃ *ɪ ̃̃ *ã *ʊ̃̃ *ũ as
  nasal vowels for Proto-East Volta-Congo
• Doneux (1975) even reconstructed a system of ten vowels with ATR
  harmony for Proto Northern Atlantic
• →it is possible that Proto-Niger-Congo had ten vowels
2 Consonats
• Typically five contrasting places of articulation:
    –   Labial
    –   Dental/alveolar
    –   Palatal (incl. post-alveolar)
    –   Velar
    –   Labial-velar
• Almost always voiceless and voiced plosives (often affricates)
• Usually voiced implosives (except for Kordofanian, Dogon, parts of Benue-
  Congo)
• Occasionally unvoiced implosives
• Often labialisation as secondary articulation
• Sometimes palatalisation
• Very rarely verlarisation
Reconstruction
• Westermann(1927): Very small consonant inventory
• Mukarovsky (1976-7:37) richer one, including a series of consonants
   represented as Ch (might have been aspirate plosive, implosive,
   affricate or fricative)
• Stewardt(1973): reconstructed the consonants of Proto-Bantu-
   Potou-Tano from sound correspondences
   – 4 series of stops
   – Voiceless and voiced lenis
• 1993: proposed that lenis consonants were rather implosives
   →more promising given wide distribution of implosives in Niger-Congo
• Non-implosive/implosive contrast has not been confirmed as going
  farther back than Proto-Potou-Tano
• Possibly the voiced plosives found in daughter languages of Proto-
  Bantu-Potou-Tano go back to voiced implosives
•Steward (1973) showed regular sound correspondence
between Potou-Tano and Bantu
    •Also possible between Proto-Ijo and Bantu
3 Noun Classes
• Doubtlessly Proto-Niger-Congo must have had a
   grammaticalised noun-class-system
   – every family shows at least traces of the system
• Mande as instance for exception
   – But initial consonant mutation in nouns suggest conditioning by earlier
     prefixes

				
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