Ubangian languages

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Ubangian
Geographic
distribution
Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Sudan
Linguistic classificationNiger–Congo?
Subdivisions
Glottologuban1244  (Ubangian + Zande)[1]

The Ubangian languages form a diverse linkage of some seventy languages centered on the Central African Republic. They are the predominant languages of the CAR, spoken by 2–3 million people, and include the national language, Sango. They are also spoken in Cameroon, Chad, the DR Congo, and South Sudan.

Ubangian languages are generally included in the Niger–Congo family, though this has not been demonstrated. The Ubangian languages are considered to be an independent family by Dimmendaal (2011).[2]

External classification[edit]

Joseph Greenberg (1963) classified the then-little-known Ubangian languages as Niger–Congo and placed them within the Adamawa languages as "Eastern Adamawa". They were soon removed to a separate branch of Niger–Congo, for example within Blench's Savanna languages.[3] However, this has become increasingly uncertain, and Dimmendaal (2008) states that, based on the lack of convincing evidence for a Niger–Congo classification ever being produced, Ubangian "probably constitutes an independent language family that cannot or can no longer be shown to be related to Niger–Congo (or any other family)."[4] Blench (2012) notes that Dimmendaal presents no positive evidence that it is distinct, and continues to include Ubangian within Niger–Congo.[5]

Internal classification[edit]

Boyd and Moñino (2010) removed the Gbaya and Zande languages.[6] The half dozen remaining branches are coherent, but their interrelationships are not straightforward. Williamson & Blench (2000) propose the following arrangement:

Ubangian 

Banda

Ngbandi (Sango, with 2 million speakers total, is Ngbandi-based)

 Sere–Mba 

Sere

 Ngbaka–Mba 

Ngbaka (note the principal Gbaya language is also called Ngbaka)

Mba

In addition there is the Ngombe language, whose placement is uncertain due to a paucity of data.

Note: The ambiguous name Ngbaka is used for various languages in the area. Generally, singular Ngbaka language refers to one of the main Gbaya languages, whereas plural Ngbaka languages refers to a branch of Ubangian.

Güldemann (2018)[edit]

Güldemann (2018) recognises 7 coherent "genealogical units" within Ubangian, but is agnostic about their positions within Niger-Congo.[7]

Comparative vocabulary[edit]

Sample basic vocabulary of Ubangian languages from Moñino (1988):[8]

Classification Language eye ear nose tooth tongue mouth blood bone water tree eat name
Gbaya Proto-Gbaya *gbà.l̥í/l̥í *zɛ̀rà *zɔ̰̀p *ɲín *léɓé ~ lémbè *nú *tɔ̀k *gbà̰là̰ *l̥ì *tè *ɲɔŋ/l̥i *l̥ín ~ l̥íŋ
Gbaya Gbaya Bodoe gbà.yík/yík zèr zɔ̀k ɲín léɓé tɔ̀k gbàɲà ɲɔŋ/yi ɲín
Gbaya Gbaya Biyanda gbà.lí/lí zàlà zɔ̀ yínì lémbè tɔ̀k gbàlà yɔŋ líŋ
Gbaya Gbeya gbà.rí/rí zɛ̀rà zɔ̰̀p ~ zɔ̰̀fɔ̰̀ ɲín lép ~ léfé tɔ̰̀k gbà̰rà̰ ɲɔŋ/ri ɲín
Gbaya Manza l̥ī zàrà zɔ̰̀ gòkò lɛ̀fɛ̀ tɔ̀ gbà̰l̥à̰ l̥ì ɲɔŋɔ l̥ī
Gbaya Mbodomo zàrà zɔ̀p ɲíní lémbé ngíà gbàlà ɲɔŋ líŋ
Gbaya Bangando gbà.lí/lí jàlà jɔ̀ ɲíì ɗàmbè mbɛ́ gbàà ɲɔŋgi/li
Gbaya Bofi gbà.lī/lī zàrà zɔ̰̀ ? lēmbé tɔ̀ʔɔ̀ gbàlà ɲɔŋ líŋ
Ngbandi Sango lɛ́ mɛ́ hɔ̰́ pēmbē mēngā yángá mɛ́nɛ̄ ~ ménē bìō ngú kɛ̄kɛ̄ ~ kēkē tɛ̀ īrī
Ngbandi Yakoma lɛ̄ mɛ̄ hɔ̰̄ tɛ̰̄ (lì.)mɛ̄ngá ɲɔ̄, yāngā mɛ́rɛ́ bỳō ngú kɛ̄kɛ̄ tɛ̀ ʔīrī
Ngbandi Kpatiri mɛ́ hɔ̄ tɛ́ mīngā.ɲɔ̄ ɲɔ̄ mɛ́lɛ̄ ngú tɛ̀ īrī
Baka Ngbaka Mabo zí.là/là zḛ̀- hṵ̄ tḛ̄- mīnī- mò- nzḛ̄- kúà- ngó náā hō̰ ʔēlē-
Baka Monzombo là- zḛ̀ ɲō̰ tḛ̄- mò- nzḛ̄ bēyè ngó zō̰ ʔē
Baka Gbanzili là/lí.là ʔō̰, ŋwū tɛ́- ~ té- mīlī ~ mēlē mò- nzɛ̄ kúà- ngó zɔ̄ yēlē
Baka Baka là- jɛ̀- ɓàngà- tɛ̄- mī(l)- mò- njɛ̄, māndā békè ngō ʔē-
Baka Mayogo jǐlà/bólà -jɛ́ (w)ó -tɛ́ -mí -bú ngɔ́tɛ́ běkì -ngú ndùlá -zō -lé
Baka Mundu jíà/rràgó gó.jɛ̀ tɛ́ kɔ́.mò ngɔ́tɛ́ bíkì ngú rró zózò írí
Mba Ndunga-le và-/bùlá- jɔ̀mbɔ́- mbētú- tɛ́- mí- mó- ɓíndá- ɓéɓé ngó- gá- -zɔ́- ɗe-
Mba Mba-ne lá-/sí- jɔ̄mbɔ̄- hɔ̄mbɔ̀- tɛ́- mí- cé-, mbɔ̀cɔ̀- zí- ɓēɓē ngó- gá- zɔ̄- ɗé-
Mba Dongo-ko lɔ̀-/sīē- gyê ŋù- tɛ̀- lyò- mò- nzì- ɓèɓè ngó- pá- zó- lì-
Mba Ama-lo -fá-/-kúmbú- -sí- -wá̰- -sɛ́- -mɛ́- -mú- -kúkú- ngátī- -ngù- -ngbúgà sú- -lí-
Sere Sere rɔ̄ hɔ̀ mɛ̀ nzɛ̄ zùmù kpɔ̀kpɔ́ ngɔ̄ zɔ̀
Sere Bare vʌ̄.lō/tì.ló ŋò vʌ̄.tì nzō mvēlē kʊ.ɓílì ngō ngʊ́
Banda Lìndá àlà/ēcī ə̄tū ngāwɨ̄ ə̄ʒī tīmà àmà ə̄njī gbābī ə́ngú āyɔ̄ zɨ̄ ʔɨ̄rɨ̄
Banda Yàngere làlà/cīcī tūtū màwō zīzī tìmè màmà njīnjī gbēbī ngúngú ndōjō (~ njōjō ?) ʔērē
Banda Ngàò àlà/cícī ūtū màwū, ūwū īʒī tīmà àmà īnjī gbāgbī úngú ōyō ʔīrī
Banda Vàrà àlà/cácū ōtū ngāwū ēʒī tīmà àmà ə̄njī gbābī ə́ngú āyɔ̄ zɨ̄ ʔārā
Banda Wójò àlà/cɛ́cū ūtū ṵ̄w̰ṵ̄ kājī tāmbī àmà (ʒ)īʒī gbābī úngú (y)ōyō ērē
Banda Dákpá àlà/cácū ōtū ə̄wū ə̄ʒī tīmà àmà ə̄ʒī gbābī ə́ngú ndɔ̄gɔ̄rɔ̄ zɨ̄ ʔīrē ~ ʔērē
Banda Làngbàsi làlà/cácù tūtū wūwū ʒīʒī tīmà màmà ʒīʒī gbābī ngúngú yōyō ʔēʁə̄
Banda Mbanza célà/cúcū tūtū w̰ṵ̄w̰ṵ̄ zīzī tīmbī màmà gbābī ə́ngú yɔ̄yɔ̄ zɨ ~ zi ʔēlē
Zande Zande bā̹ngìrī/kpā̹kpū tū̹ ō rīndē mīrā ngbā kūrē mēmē ī̹mè/dí ngūà ri rī̹mā ~ rū̹mā
Zande Nzakara bāngìlī ʔʊ̰̄ līndī mīnlā ngbā kʊ̄lɛ̄ mɛ̄mɛ̄ ndīgì ngʊ̄nlà nlūmā
Zande Geme índīrī/kpūkpū hɔ̄ līndī māl.ngbā ngbā kūlē mɛ̄mɛ̄ díī wīlì li lūmā

Numerals[edit]

Comparison of numerals in individual languages:[9]

Classification Language 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Banda Mbanza (Mabandja) bale ɓìsi vɔtɑ vɑnɑ mindu ɡɑzɑlɑ ɡɑzɑlɑ mɑnɑ bɑle (6 + 1) nɡebeɗeɗe nɡebeɗeɗe mɑnɑ bɑle (8 + 1) ɓufu
Banda, , Central Core, Banda-Bambari Banda-Linda (1) bale biʃi vɘta vana mīndū mīndū ama nɘ bale (5 + 1)̄ mīndū ama nɘ bīʃi (5 + 2) mīndū ama nɘ vɘta (5 + 3) mīndū ama nɘ vana (5 + 4) moɾofo
Banda, , Central Core, Banda-Bambari Banda-Linda (2) bɑ̀lē bīʃì və̀tɑ̀ və̀nɑ̄ mīndû mīndû ɑ̀ bɑ̀le (5 + 1)̄ mīndû ɑ̀ bīʃì (5 + 2) mīndû ɑ̀ və̀tɑ̀ (5 + 3) mīndû ɑ̀ və̀nɑ̄ (5 + 4) mórófō
Banda, South Central Ngbugu (1) bàlē bīʃùwú ~ bīʃǔ vɔ̄tǎ vɔànə̄ mīndúwù ~ mīndû mīndû ma.̀nə̄ bàlē ~ mīndû kàlá bàlē mīndû ma.̀nə̄ bīʃǔ ~ mīndû kàlá bīʃǔ mīndû ma.̀nə̄ vɔ̄tǎ ~ mīndû kàlá vɔ̄tǎ mīndû ma.̀nə̄ vɔànə̄ ~mīndû kàlá vɔànə̄ lə́.kɔ̄nɔ́.ɡbá
Banda, South Central Ngbugu (2) bàlè bìʃùú vòtàá vwànɔ̄ mìndúù mìndúù mànɜ̄ bàlè (5 + 1)̄ mìndúù mànɜ̄ bìʃùú (5 + 2) mìndúù mànɜ̄ vòtàá (5 + 3) mìndúù mànɜ̄ vwànɔ̄ (5 + 4) lɜ̀konòɡ͡bè (lit: all the fingers)
Banda, South Central Langbasi (Langbashe) bɑ̀lē bīʃì vòtɑ̀ vɔ̀ɑ̀nō mīndû mīndû mɑ̀nə̄ bɑ̀le (5 + 1)̄ mīndû mɑ̀nə̄ bīʃì (5 + 2) mīndû mɑ̀nə̄ vòtɑ̀ (5 + 3) mīndû mɑ̀nə̄ vɔ̀ɑ̀nō (5 + 4) kpɔ́lɔ́ kɔ̄nɔ́ (litː ' two hands ')
Banda, West Central Banda-Tangbago bɑ̀ɭē bīʃì vōtɑ̀ vɑ̀nɑ̄ mīndû mīndû ɑ̀mɑ̀ nə̀ bɑ̀ɭē (5 + 1) mīndû ɑ̀mɑ̀ nə̀ bīʃì (5 + 2) mīndû ɑ̀mɑ̀ nə̀ vōtɑ̀ (5 + 3) mīndû ɑ̀mɑ̀ nə̀ vɑ̀nɑ̄ (5 + 4) móɾófò
Gbaya-Manza-Ngbaka, Central Bokoto n͡dáŋ bùwá tàɾ nã́ɾ mȭɾkȭ mȭɾkȭ zã́ŋã́ n͡dáŋ (5 + 1) mȭɾkȭ zã́ŋã́ bùwá (5 + 2) mȭɾkȭ zã́ŋã́ tàɾ (5 + 3) mȭɾkȭ zã́ŋã́ nã́ɾ (5 + 4) ɓùkɔ̀
Gbaya-Manza-Ngbaka, Central Bossangoa Gbaya k͡pém ɾíːtò tàː nàː mɔ̃̀ːɾɔ̃̀ ɗòŋ k͡pém (5 + 1) ɗòŋ ɾíːtò (5 + 2) nũ̀nã́ː (2 x 4) ? kùsì ɓú
Gbaya-Manza-Ngbaka, East Ngabaka kpó bɔ̀à tàlɛ̀ nālɛ̄ mɔ̀lɔ̄ ɡàzɛ̀lɛ̀ ɡàzɛ̀lɛ̀-nɡɔ́-nɛ-kpó (6 + 1), sambo * nɡbɛ̀ɗɛ̀ɗɛ̀ kùsì ɓū
Gbaya-Manza-Ngbaka, Northwest Northwest Gbaya kpɔ́k yíítòó tààr náár mɔ̀ɔ̀rɔ́ mɔ̀ɔ̀rɔ́-ɗòŋ-kpɔ́k (5 + 1) mɔ̀ɔ̀rɔ́-ɗòŋ-yíítòó (5 + 2) mɔ̀ɔ̀rɔ́-ɗòŋ-tààr (5 + 3) mɔ̀ɔ̀rɔ́-ɗòŋ-náár (5 + 4) ɓú
Ngbandi Northern Ngbandi kɔi ta siɔ kɔ̃ mana mbara mbara miambe ɡumbaya sui kɔi
Ngbandi Yakoma òkɔ̀, ̀kɔ̀ ǒsɛ̀, ̌sɛ̀ òtá, ̀tá òsyɔ̄, ̀syɔ̄ òkṵ̄, ̀kṵ̄ òmɛ̀rɛ̄, ̀mɛ̀rɛ̄ mbárámbárá myɔ̀mbè ɡūmbáyā bàlé.kɔ̀ {ten.one}
Sere-Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka-Mba, Mba Dongo ɓawɨ ɡ͡bwɔ̀ àrà anà vʉwɛ̀ kázyá zyálá nɡya-iɲo-ɡ͡bwɔ̀ (10 - 2) ? nɡya-iɲyo-ɓayi (10 - 1) ? ànɡ͡bà
Sere-Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka-Mba, Mba Mba úma ɓiné byala aⁿɡ͡bote ɓúma ɓúma tele (5 + 1) ɓúma te sené (5 + 2) ɓúma te ɓyala (5 + 3) ɓúma te aⁿɡ͡bote (5 + 4) abusa
Sere-Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka, Eastern, Mayogo-Bangba Mayogo ɓīnì ɓīsī ɓātā ɓāɗā búlúvūè māɗíà mānāníkà mādʒɛ́nà ōdúkpábīnì (10 - 1) ?? ndʒɛ̄kpà
Sere-Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka, Eastern, Mundu Mündü bìrì, bìrìnɡ͡bɵ ɓəsù bata bala ɓúruve màɗìyà lɵ̀rɵzi ɡ͡badzena menewá nzòkpa
Sere-Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka, Western, Baka-Gundi Baka kpóde bíde batà bàna θuwè θuwè tɛ kpóde (5+ 1) θuwè tɛ bíde (5+ 2) θuwè tɛ batà (5+ 3) θuwè tɛ bàna (5+ 4) kamo / θuwè tɛ θuwè (5+ 5)
Sere-Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka, Western, Baka-Gundi Limassa kpóde bíde báíde bàna vue síta támbali séna vue lɛ bàna (5+ 4) kpa bo pɛ (lit. all/both hands of person)
Sere-Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka, Western, Bwaka Ngabaka Ma'bo k͡páàá ~ k͡páàkɔ́ ɓīsì ɓātà ɡ͡bīānā ʔèvè ~ vè sítà ~ sítā sílànā sɛ́nā vìíìnā (5+ 4) nzò k͡pā̰ (litː ' head / hand ')
Sere-Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka, Western, Gbanzili Gbanzili k͡pókà ɓīsì ɓɔ̄tà ~ ɓōātà ɓùānā ~ ɓɔ̄nā vūè sítà sélènā ~ sáɓá sánā vūè-nà-ɓùānā (5+ 4) / liɓòà * nzò k͡pā ~ ɡ͡bà
Sere-Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka-Mba, Ngbaka, Western, Monzombo Monzombo k͡póì bīʃì bālà bàānā vūè ʃítà ʃíēnā sɛ́nā ʔi̋vúēnā nʒò k͡pā̰ (litː 'head of hand or arm')
Sere-Ngbaka-Mba, Sere, Sere-Bviri, Bai-Viri Belanda Viri njẽe soó taú nãu vöö́ vöö́-njoí-njẽe (5 + 1) vöö́-njoí-soó (5 + 2) vöö́-njoí-taú (5 + 3) vöö́-njoí-nãu (5 + 4) ɓï̃kürü
Sere-Ngbaka-Mba, Sere, Sere-Bviri, Ndogo-Sere Ndogo ɡbaànjé só, sósò (used as a adjective) táʔò nàʔò vó-njeé-ɡbaànjé(5 + 1) vó-njeé-só (5 + 2) vó-njeé-táʔò (5 + 3) vó-njeé-nàʔò (5 + 4) muʔɓì (litː 'on hands ')
Zande, Zande-Nzakara Nzakara (1) kílī īyō ātā ālù ìsìbē ìsìbē-ālí-kílī (5 + 1) ìsìbē-ālí-īyō (5 + 2) ìsìbē-ālí-ātā (5 + 3) ìsìbē-ālí-ālù (5 + 4) ŋɡ͡bō
Zande, Zande-Nzakara Nzakara (2) kílī ījō ātā ālù ìsìbē ìsìbē-ālí-kílī (5 + 1) ìsìbē-ālí-ījō (5 + 2) ìsìbē-ālí-ātā (5 + 3) ìsìbē-ālí-ālù (5 + 4) ŋɡ͡bɔ̃̄
Zande, Zande-Nzakara Zande úé bíátá bīànɡì ~ bīàmà (according to dialects) bīsùè bīsùè bàtì̧ sá (litː 'five save one') bīsùè bàtì̧ úé (litː 'five save two') bīsùè bàtì̧ bíátá (litː 'five save three') bīsùè bàtì̧ bīànɡì ('five save four') bàwē

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ubangi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. (2011). Historical Linguistics and the Comparative Study of African Languages. John Benjamins. ISBN 978-90-272-8722-9.
  3. ^ Williamson, Kay & Blench, Roger (2000) 'Niger–Congo', in Heine, Bernd & Nurse, Derek (eds.) African languages: an introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. ^ Gerrit Dimmendaal (2008) "Language Ecology and Linguistic Diversity on the African Continent", Language and Linguistics Compass 2/5:841.
  5. ^ Roger Blench, Niger-Congo: an alternative view
  6. ^ The position of Gbaya-Manza-Ngbaka group among the Niger-Congo languages
  7. ^ Güldemann, Tom (2018). "Historical linguistics and genealogical language classification in Africa". In Güldemann, Tom (ed.). The Languages and Linguistics of Africa. The World of Linguistics series. 11. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 58–444. doi:10.1515/9783110421668-002. ISBN 978-3-11-042606-9.
  8. ^ Moñino, Yves. 1988. Lexique comparatif des langues oubanguiennes. Paris: Geuthner.
  9. ^ Chan, Eugene (2019). "The Niger-Congo Language Phylum". Numeral Systems of the World's Languages.