|Subsaharan Africa, from Nigeria east and south|
Some important branches of the Volta–Niger and Benue–Congo families are concentrated in Nigeria, Cameroon, and Benin.
The Benue–Congo group of languages constitutes the largest branch of the Niger–Congo language family, both in terms of sheer number of languages, of which Ethnologue (2009) counts 900, and in terms of speakers, numbering perhaps 350 million. Within Niger–Congo, Benue–Congo is a branch of Atlantic–Congo, and perhaps also of Volta–Congo if that turns out to be a valid group. When it was first proposed by Joseph Greenberg (1963) it included the Volta–Niger languages (as West Benue–Congo); the boundary with those languages and with Kwa has been repeatedly debated. Blench (2012) states that if Benue–Congo is taken to be "the noun-class languages east and north of the Niger", it is likely to be a valid group, though no demonstration of this has been made in print.
The branches of the Benue–Congo family are thought to be as follows:
- Central Nigerian AKA Platoid
Ukaan is also related to Benue–Congo; Roger Blench suspects it may be either the most divergent language (East) Benue–Congo language, or the closest relative to Benue–Congo.
Fali of Baissa may also be Benue–Congo, but is otherwise unclassified.
- Roger Blench, Niger-Congo: an alternative view
- Wolf, Paul Polydoor de (1971) The Noun Class System of Proto-Benue–Congo (Thesis, Leiden University). The Hague/Paris: Mouton.
- Williamson, Kay (1989) 'Benue–Congo Overview', pp. 248–274 in Bendor-Samuel, John & Rhonda L. Hartell (eds.) The Niger–Congo Languages – A classification and description of Africa's largest language family. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America.