Eastern Sudanic languages

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Eastern Sudanic
Geographic
distribution:
Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo (DRC)
Linguistic classification: Nilo-Saharan?
  • Eastern Sudanic
Subdivisions:
ISO 639-5: sdv
Glottolog: None
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Eastern Sudanic languages:
* Group k (orange)
* Group n (yellow)

In most classifications, the Eastern Sudanic languages are a group of nine families of languages which constitute a branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. Eastern Sudanic languages are spoken from southern Egypt to northern Tanzania.

Nubian (and possibly Meroitic) gives Eastern Sudanic some of the earliest written attestations of African languages. However, the largest branch by far is Nilotic, spread by extensive and comparatively recent conquests throughout East Africa. Before the spread of Nilotic, Eastern Sudanic was centered in present-day Sudan. The name "East Sudanic" refers to the eastern part of the region of Sudan where the country of Sudan is located, and contrasts with Central Sudanic and West Sudanic (modern Mande, in the Niger–Congo family).

Lionel Bender (1980) proposes several Eastern Sudanic isoglosses (defining words), such as *kutuk "mouth", *(ko)TVS-(Vg) "three", and *ku-lug-ut or *kVl(t) "fish".

In older classifications, such as that of Meinhof (1911), the term was used for the eastern Sudanic languages, largely equivalent to modern Nilo-Saharan sans Nilotic, which is the largest constituent of modern Eastern Sudanic.

Glottolog (2013) does not accept that a relationship has been demonstrated between any of the nine families of Eastern Sudanic, nor their connection to a broader Nilo-Saharan phylum.

Internal classification[edit]

There are two recent classifications of East Sudanic languages. The one followed by other historical linguists is Bender 2000.

Bender 2000

Bender assigns the languages into two branches, depending on whether the 1sg pronoun ("I") has a /k/ or an /n/:

Eastern 
Sudanic 
Northern
 (k languages) 

Nubian



Nara



Nyima



Taman



Southern
 (n languages) 

Surmic



Eastern Jebel



Temein (Nuba Hills)



Daju



Nilotic




Ehret 2001 [1984]

Ehret, published in 2001 but circulating in manuscript form since at least 1984, calls the family "Eastern Sahelian", and idiosyncratically adds the Kuliak languages and Berta, which Bender assigns to higher-level branches of Nilo-Saharan, and reassigns Nyima to the southern branch. No evidence has been published for any of these assignments, and they have not been picked up by other linguists. For example, (Blench 2007)[clarification needed] calls the reassignment of Nyima to the Temein family "a classification which suggests the author has not seriously considered all the relevant data (none of which is referenced in the bibliography)".

Eastern 
Sahelian 
 Astaboran 

Nara (Barea)


 Western 
 Astaboran 

Nubian



Taman





Kuliak ("Rub")


Kir–Abbaian
 Jebel 

Eastern Jebel (Tabi)



Berta



 Kir 

Temein (including Nyima)



Daju


 Surma– 
 Nilotic 

Surmic



Nilotic






Sources[edit]

  • Bender, M. Lionel. 2000. "Nilo-Saharan". In: Bernd Heine and Derek Nurse (eds.), African Languages: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press.
  • Bender, M. Lionel. 1981. "Some Nilo-Saharan isoglosses". In: Thilo Schadeberg, M. L. Bender (eds.), Nilo-Saharan: Proceedings of the First Nilo-Saharan Linguistics Colloquium, Leiden, Sept. 8-10, 1980. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.
  • Temein languages (Roger Blench, 2007).
  • Ehret, Christopher. 2001. A historical-comparative reconstruction of Nilo-Saharan. Köln: Rudiger Köppe.