|Sudan–Ethiopia border region|
The Koman languages are a small close-knit family of languages located along the Sudan–Ethiopia border with about 50,000 speakers. They are commonly believed to belong to the Nilo-Saharan family, but evidence is slight, and among scholars who do accept inclusion, opinions vary as to their position within it.
- Uduk, or T’wampa, (formerly in South Sudan)—about 20,000 speakers, most at a large refugee camp at Bonga, near Gambela
- Kwama (Ethiopia)—about 15,000 speakers, mainly in Benishangul-Gumuz
- Komo (Sudan)—about 12,000 speakers mainly in An Nil al Azraq
- Opuuo, or Shita (Ethiopia)—spoken in 5 villages north of the Nuer by about 300 people
- Gule (Sudan)—extinct
The poorly known Shabo language (600 speakers) shows strong Koman influence, and it has been suggested (on little evidence) that it may be a Koman language.
Dimmendaal (2008) notes that mounting grammatical evidence has made the Nilo-Saharan proposal as a whole more sound since Greenberg proposed it in 1963, but that such evidence has not been forthcoming for Songhay, Gumuz, and Koman: very few of the more widespread nominal and verbal morphological markers of Nilo-Saharan are attested in the Coman languages plus Gumuz ... Their genetic status remains debatable, mainly due to lack of more extensive data. (2008:843) And later, In summarizing the current state of knowledge, ... the following language families or phyla can be identified — ... Mande, Songhai, Ubangian, Kadu, and the Coman languages plus Gumuz. (2008:844) However, Ahland (2010) reports that with better attestation, both Koman and Gumuz do appear to be Nilo-Saharan, and perhaps closest to each other.
- Colleen Ahland, 2010. "The Classification of Gumuz and Koman Languages", presented at the Language Isolates in Africa workshop, Lyons, December 4, 2010
- Lionel Bender, 2000. "Nilo-Saharan". In Bernd Heine and Derek Nurse, eds., African Languages: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press.
- Gerrit Dimmendaal, 2008. "Language Ecology and Linguistic Diversity on the African Continent", Language and Linguistics Compass 2/5:842.
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