Savannas languages

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Savanna languages)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
West Africa, around Burkina Faso in the west to CAR in the east
Linguistic classification Niger–Congo

most ex-Gur, most ex-Adamawa, possibly Ubangian:

Glottolog nort3149[1]

The Savannas languages, also known as Gur–Adamawa (Adamawa–Gur), is a branch of the Niger–Congo languages that includes Greenberg's Gur and Adamawa–Ubangui families. The link was demonstrated in Kleinewillinghöfer (1996)[2] and has been accepted as established by later researchers, who have gone further in noting that the Adamawa and Gur languages themselves do not form coherent groups and are not necessarily more closely related internally than they are to each other.

There are several clusters of Adamawa languages; among the Gur languages, only the core of that proposal (Central Gur) has been retained, though it is possible that some of the 'peripheral' languages may turn out to be related to each other. Kleinewillinghöfer et al. (2012) note that a reconstruction of proto-Central Gur noun classes needs to include several Adamawa families.[3] Senufo (ex-Gur) and Fali (ex-Adamawa) are excluded from Savannas, as they appear to be some of the more divergent branches of Niger–Congo. Dimmendaal (2008) excludes the Ubangian family from Niger–Congo altogether, stating that it "probably constitutes an independent language family that cannot or can no longer be shown to be related to Niger–Congo (or any other family)," though the Ubangian languages are themselves not a valid group, and the Gbaya branch may turn out to be related to Gur. Apart from such exceptions, Dimmendaal notes that the Savanna languages "can be shown to be genetically related beyond any reasonable doubt. The evidence is not only lexical in nature, it is based primarily on a range of cognate grammatical morphemes."[4]


The Savannas languages, with an agnostic approach to internal classification, are as follows:


(Central) Gur

Kulango (a.k.a. "Kulango–Lorhon": ex-Gur)

Bariba (a.k.a. "Baatonũ": ex-Gur)

Vyemo (ex-Gur)

Tyefo (ex-Gur)

Wara–Natyoro (ex-Gur)

Tusya (a.k.a. "Win": ex-Gur)

Chamba–Mumuye a.k.a. Leko–Nimbari (ex-Adamawa: G2, G4, G5, G12)

Mbum–Day (ex-Adamawa: G6, G13, G14, & Day)

Bambukic (ex-Adamawa: G7, G9, G10)

WajaKam (ex-Adamawa: G1, G8)

? Baa (a.k.a. "Kwa")

Gbaya (ex-Ubangian)

? Ubangian

? Zande (ex-Ubangian)

The moribund Oblo language was left unclassified within Adamawa, and has not been addressed in Savannas.

Kleinewillinghöfer et al. (2012) note that the reconstruction of the noun-class system indicates that Waja ('Tula–Waja') and Leko–Nimbari ('Sama–Duru') (and possibly other Adamawa groups) belong with Central Gur, and that the noun-class system they reconstruct for these languages is akin to those of Bantu, Senufo, Tyefo, Vyemo, Tusya, and "Samu".


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "North Volta–Congo". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ Kleinewillinghöfer, Ulrich. 1996. 'Relationship between Adamawa and Gur: The case of Waja.' Gur Papers / Cahiers Voltaiques 1.25–46.
  3. ^ Miehe, Kleinewillinghöfer, von Roncador, & Winkelmann, 2012. "Overview of noun classes in Gur (II)"
  4. ^ Gerrit Dimmendaal, 2008, "Language Ecology and Linguistic Diversity on the African Continent", Language and Linguistics Compass 2/5:841.

External links[edit]