Eastern Sudanic languages
|Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo (DRC)|
Eastern Sudanic languages:
* Group k (orange)
* Group n (yellow)
In most classifications, the Eastern Sudanic languages are a group of nine families of languages that may 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 Western 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.
There are two recent classifications of East Sudanic languages.
Bender assigns the languages into two branches, depending on whether the 1sg pronoun ("I") has a /k/ or an /n/:
Claude Rilly (2009:2) provides the following internal structure for the Eastern Sudanic languages.
Starostin, using lexicostatistics, finds strong support for Bender's Northern branch, but none for the Southern branch. Eastern Sudanic as a whole is rated a probable working model, pending proper comparative work, while the relationship between Nubian, Tama, and Nara is beyond reasonable doubt.
Nyima is not part of the northern group, though it appears to be closest to it. (For one thing, its pronouns align well with the northern (Astaboran) branches.) Surmic, Nilotic, and Temein share a number of similarities, including in their pronouns, but not enough to warrant classifying them together in opposition to Astaboran without proper comparative work. Jebel and Daju also share many similarities with Surma and Nilotic, though their pronominal systems are closer to Astaboran.
Blench (2019):18 proposes the following internal structure for East Sudanic, supported by morphological evidence.
- Rilly, Claude. 2009. From the Yellow Nile to the Blue Nile: The quest for water and the diffusion of Northern East Sudanic languages from the fourth to the first millenia BCE. Paper presented at ECAS 2009 (3rd European Conference on African Studies, Panel 142: African waters - water in Africa, barriers, paths, and resources: their impact on language, literature and history of people) in Leipzig, 4 to 7 June 2009.
- George Starostin (2015) The Eastern Sudanic hypothesis tested through lexicostatistics: current state of affairs (Draft 1.0)
- Blench, Roger. 2019. Morphological evidence for the coherence of East Sudanic. Paper submitted for a Special Issue of Dotawo. Also presented at the 14th Nilo-Saharan Linguistics Colloquium Department of African Studies, University of Vienna, 31 May 2019.
- 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[permanent dead link] (Roger Blench, 2007).
- Starostin, George (2015). Языки Африки. Опыт построения лексикостатистической классификации. Том II. Восточносуданские языки [The Languages of Africa. The experience of building a lexiostatistical classification.] (in Russian). II: The Eastern Sudanic Languages. Moscow: Languages of Slavic culture. ISBN 9785457890718.