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Encyclopedia > Bantoid languages

In the classification of African languages, Bantoid is a branch of the Benue-Congo subfamily of the Niger-Congo phylum. The term 'Bantoid' was first used by Krause in 1895 for languages that showed resemblances in vocabulary to Bantu. Greenberg in his influential 1963 The Languages of Africa defined Bantoid as the group to which Bantu belongs together with its closest relatives; this is the sense in which the term is still used today. The term African languages refers to the approximately 1800 languages spoken in Africa. ... The Benue-Congo group of languages constitutes the largest branch of the Niger-Congo language family, both in terms of sheer number of languages, of which 938 are known (not counting mere dialects), and in terms of speakers, numbering perhaps 550 million. ... Map showing the distribution of Niger-Congo languages The Niger-Congo languages are probably the largest group of the world in terms of different languages. ... Bantu is a language family that belongs to the Niger-Congo group. ...

A proposal that divided Bantoid in North and South Bantoid was introduced in Williamson (1989, based on work presented in Blench [1987]). In this proposal, the Mambiloid and Dakoid languages are grouped together as North Bantoid, while everything else Bantoid is subsumed under South Bantoid; the Ethnologue uses this classification. The uniformity of the North Bantoid group was called into question subsequently, but the work did establish Southern Bantoid as a valid genetic unit. Southern Bantoid is home to the well known and numerous Bantu subfamily. In the classification of African languages, Southern Bantoid (or South Bantoid) is one of the two branches of the Bantoid subfamily of the Niger-Congo phylum. ... The Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web and print publication of SIL International (formerly known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics), a Christian linguistic service organization which studies lesser-known languages primarily to provide the speakers with native language biblical texts. ... Bantu is a language family that belongs to the Niger-Congo group. ...


  • Blench, Roger [1987] 'A new classification of Bantoid languages.' Unpublished paper presented at 17th Colloquium on African Languages and Linguistics, Leiden.
  • Williamson, Kay (1989) 'Niger-Congo Overview'. In: The Niger-Congo languages, ed. by John Bendor-Samuel, 3–45. University Press of America.
  • Williamson, Kay & Blench, Roger (2000) 'Niger-Congo', in Heine, Bernd and Nurse, Derek (eds) African Languages - An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University press, pp. 11—42.

External links

  • The Bantoid branch on Ethnologue (http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=90099)



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