Nilo-Saharan Languages

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Nilo-Saharan Languages are a family of 205 languages. The most common are Dholuo in Kenya and Kanuri in Nigeria with 3.5 million speakers each.[1] The next largest, measured by number of speakers are: Kalenjin (2.5 million speakers, Kenya); Dinka (1.3 million speakers, Sudan), Lugbara (1 million speakers, Uganda); Lango (977,680 speakers, Uganda); Maa (883,000 speakers, Kenya); Acholi (791,796 speakers, Uganda); Lendu (760,000 speakers, Democratic Republic of the Congo); Ngambay (750,000 speakers, Chad); Mangbetu (620,000 speakers, Democratic Republic of the Congo), Aringa (588,830 speakers, Uganda); and Bari (450,000 speakers, Sudan).[2]

Origins of Nilo-Saharan Languages and Their Associated Crops

According to Jared Diamond, "between about 9000 and 4000 B.C. the Sahara was humid, held numerous lakes, and teemed with game. In that period, Saharans began to tend cattle and make pottery, then to keep sheep and goats, and they may also have been starting to domesticate sorghum and millet."[3] Today, the ancestors of these crops are distributed from west to east across the Sahel zone.[4] He continues:

"Putting together direct archaeological evidence of crops with the more indirect linguistic evidence, we deduce that the people who were domesticating sorghum and millet in the Sahara thousands of years ago spoke languages ancestral to modern Nilo-Saharan languages."[5]

Diamond also notes that "the fragmented distribution of Nilo-Saharan languages... implies that many speakers of those langauges have been engulfed by speakers of Afroasiatic or Niger-Congo languages."[6]

Nilo-Saharan Language Family Tree

The 205 Nilo-Saharan Languages are categorized as follows:[7]

  • Berta: Berta (Ethiopia)
  • Central Sudanic (65)
    • East (22)
      • Lendu: Bendi, Lendu, and Ngiti (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
      • Mangbetu: Asoa, Lombi, and Mangbetu (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
      • Mangbutu-Efe: Efe, Lese, Mamvu, Mangbutu, and Mvuba (all spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Ndo (Uganda)
      • Moru-Madi (10)
        • Central (6)
        • Northern (1)
        • Southern (3)
    • West (43)
      • Bongo-Bagirmi (41)
        • Bongo-Baka (8)
        • Kara (3)
        • Sara-Bagirmi (29)
        • Sinyar (1)
      • Kresh: Aja and Gbaya (both spoken in Sudan)
  • Eastern Sudanic (106)
    • Eastern (26)
      • Eastern Jebel (4)
        • Aka-Kelo-Molo (3)
        • Gaam (1)
      • Nara: Nara (Eritrea)
      • Nubian (11)
        • Central (9)
        • Northern (1)
        • Western (1)
      • Surmic (10)
        • North (1)
        • South (9)
    • Kuliak (3)
      • Ik: Ik (Uganda)
      • Ngangea-So: Nyang’i and Soo (both spoken in Uganda)
    • Nilotic (63)
      • Eastern (16)
        • Bari (3)
        • Lotuxo-Teso (13)
      • Southern (16)
        • Kalenjin (14)
        • Tatoga (2)
      • Western (31)
        • Dinka-Nuer (7)
        • Luo (24)
    • Western (14)
      • Daju (7)
        • Eastern Daju (2)
        • Western Daju (5)
      • Nyimang: Afitti and Ama
      • Tama (3)
        • Mararit (1)
        • Tama-Sungor (2)
      • Temein: Temein and Tese
  • Fur: Amdang (Chad) and Fur (Sudan)
  • Kadugli-Krongo: Kanga, Katcha-Kadugli-Miri, Keiga, Krongo, Tulishi, and Tumtum (all spoken in Sudan)
  • Komuz (6)
    • Gumuz: Gumuz (Ethiopia)
    • Koman: Gule and Komo (spoken in Sudan) and Kwama, Opuuo, Uduk, and Kunama (spoken in Ethiopia)
  • Kunama: Kunama (Eritrea)
  • Saharan (9)
    • Eastern: Berti and Zaghawa (both spoken in Sudan)
    • Western (7)
      • Kanuri (5)
        • Kanembu (Chad)
        • Kanuri, Bilma(Niger)
        • Kanuri, Central (Nigeria)
        • Kanuri, Manga (Niger)
        • Kanuri, Tumari (Niger)
      • Tebu: Dazaga and Tedaga (both spoken in Chad)
  • Songhai (8)
    • Northern: Tadaksahak in Mali and Tasawaq in Niger
    • Southern (5)
      • Dendi (Benin)
      • Songhay (Burkina Faso)
      • Songhay, Koyra Chiini (Mali)
      • Songhay, Koyraboro Senni (Mali)
      • Zarma (Niger)
      • Korandje (Algeria)
  • Unclassified: Shabo (Ethiopia)

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles

References

  1. "The Nilo-Saharan Language Family," Accessed December 7, 2011.
  2. "The Nilo-Saharan Language Family," Accessed December 7, 2011.
  3. Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, p. 390.
  4. Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, p. 388.
  5. Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, p. 391.
  6. Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, p. 384.
  7. Ethnologue Report for Nilo-Saharan Languages, Accessed December 6, 2011.

External Resources

External Articles