Adamawa languages

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Further information: Savanna languages
eastern Nigeria, northern Cameroon, northwestern CAR, southern Chad
Linguistic classification Niger–Congo
Glottolog adam1259[1]

The Adamawa languages are a putative family of 80–90 languages scattered across the Adamawa Plateau in central Africa, in Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Chad, spoken altogether by only one and a half million people (as of 1996). Joseph Greenberg classified them as one branch of the Adamawa–Ubangi family of Niger–Congo languages. They are among the least studied languages in Africa, and include many endangered languages; by far the largest is Mumuye, with 400,000 speakers. A couple of unclassified languages—notably Laal and Jalaa—are found along the fringes of the Adamawa area.

Greenberg postulated the group as part of Adamawa–Ubangian (then called Adamawa–Eastern), and divided them into 14 numbered groups. Group G3, Daka (or Dakoid), is now known to be a branch of Benue–Congo. The relationships of the other branches has undergone considerable revision. Boyd (1989) added the Day language and classified them as follows:

The Fali languages (G11) were excluded.

Kleinewillinghöfer (1996)[full citation needed] modified Waja–Jen by splitting Bikwin–Jen into two branches and moving Baa up as a primary branch of Adamawa. He was agnostic about the inclusion of Fali.


More recently, Roger Blench (2008)[full citation needed] has posited that the Adamawa languages are a geographic grouping, not a language family, and has broken up its various branches in his proposal of the Savannas family. He retained Boyd and Kleinewillinghöfer's Leko–Nimbari and Mbum–Day families, but gave them no special connection to each other. He removed Waja from the Waja–Jen branch and reassigned it with Kam isolate; the placement of Baa is not clear. Fali is excluded from Savannas altogether.

Geographically, the Adamawa languages lie near the location of the postulated Niger–Congo – Central Sudanic contact that may have given rise to the Atlantic–Congo family, and so may represent the central radiation of that family.

Unclassified Adamawa languages[edit]

The Oblo language of Cameroon has been included in several versions of the Adamawa group, but its position within it is unclear. It has been speculated that the unclassified Laal language of Chad may be Adamawa; the Jalaa language of Nigeria is probably not Adamawa, but shows heavy Adamawa influence.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Adamawa". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 

External links[edit]