Daju languages

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Ethnicity Daju people
Sudan, Chad, South Sudan
Linguistic classification Nilo-Saharan?
Glottolog daju1249[1]

The Daju languages are spoken in isolated pockets by the Daju people across a wide area of Sudan and Chad, in parts of the regions of Kordofan, Darfur and Wadai. They belong to the Eastern Sudanic subfamily of Nilo-Saharan.[2]


They are sub-classified as follows, following Stevenson 1956:

Proto-Daju has been partially reconstructed by Robin Thelwall (1981). In his judgement, the Eastern Daju languages separated from the others perhaps as much as 2,000 years ago, while the Western Daju languages were spread more recently, perhaps by the Daju state which dominated Darfur from about 1200 AD until scattered after the death of Kasi Furogé, the Daju king, and replaced by the Tunjur. The principal phonetic difference between the two branches is the reflex of proto-Daju *ɣ, reflected as Western *r and Eastern *x.


The typical verb root in Daju is a monosyllable of the form (C)VC(C). The perfective takes a prefixed k-; the imperfective, a prefixed a(n)-. The verb takes person suffixes, exemplified in Shatt (for the verb "drink" in the imperfective):

I drink a-wux-u
you drink wux-u
s/he drinks mö-wux-u
we drink (w)a-wux-u-d-ök
you (pl.) drink wux-a-d-aŋ
they drink sö-wux-u

Suffixes on nouns serve to mark singulative (-tic, -təs), generic, and plural forms. The typical word order is subject–verb–object in most Daju languages, with exceptions such as Sila, and possessed–possessor.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Daju". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ Ethnologue report for Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Western, Daju languages retrieved May 21, 2011
  • R. C. Stevenson. "A survey of the phonetics and grammatical structure of the Nuba Mountains languages, with particular reference to Otoro, Katcha and Nyimang." Afrika und Übersee 40, 1956-7.
  • Robin Thelwall. "Lexicostatistical Subgrouping and Reconstruction of the Daju Group" in ed. Thilo Schadeberg & Lionel Bender, Nilo-Saharan: Proceedings of the First Nilo-Saharan Linguistics Colloquium, Leiden, September 8–10, 1980. Foris: Dordrecht 1981.

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