Volta-Niger languages


Volta-Niger languages

Infobox Language family
name=Volta-Niger
region=West Africa, from Eastern Ghana to central Nigeria
familycolor=Niger-Congo
fam2=Atlantic-Congo
fam3=Volta-Congo ?
child1="Akpes"
child2="Ayere"
child3=Gbe
child4="YEAI"
child5="NOI"
child6=? "Ukaan"

The Volta-Niger family of languages, also known as West Benue-Congo or East Kwa, is one of the branches of the Niger-Congo language family, with perhaps 50 million speakers. Among these are the most important languages of southern Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and southeast Ghana: Yoruba, Igbo, Bini, Fon, and Ewe.

These languages have variously been placed within the Kwa or Benue-Congo families, but Williamson & Blench (2000) separate them from both. The boundaries between the various branches of Volta-Niger are rather vague, suggesting diversification of a dialect continuum rather than a clear split of families.

The constituent groups of the Volta-Niger family, along with the most important languages in terms of number of speakers, are as follows (with number of languages for each branch in parenthesis):
* "Akpes" (1)
* Ayere (1)
* Gbe (21)
** Fon (2 million)
** Ewe (3 million)"YEAI"
* Yoruboid (15)
** Igala (1 million)
** Yorùbá (22 million)
* Edoid (27)
** Edo (Bini, 1 million)
* "Akoko" (1)
* Igboid (7)
** Igbo (18 million)"NOI"
* Nupoid (12)
** Ebira (1 million)
** Nupe (1 million)
* "Oko" (1)
* Idomoid (9)
** Idoma (600,000)
* ? "Ukaan" (1)

The Yoruboid languages and Akoko were once linked as the Defoid branche, but more recently they, Edoid, and Igboid have been suggested to be primary branches of an as-yet unnamed group, often abbreviated YEAI. Oko, Nupoid, and Idomoid are also often grouped together under the acronym NOI. Ukaan is an Atlantic-Congo language, but it is unclear if it belongs to the Volta-Niger family.

References

*Wolf, Paul Polydoor de (1971) "The Noun Class System of Proto-Benue-Congo" (Thesis, Leiden University). The Hague/Paris: Mouton.
*Williamson, Kay (1989) 'Benue-Congo Overview', pp. 248—274 in Bendor-Samuel, John & Rhonda L. Hartell (eds.) "The Niger-Congo Languages — A classification and description of Africa's largest language family". Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America.

Wikimedia

* [http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
]

External links

* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=90098 Ethnologue report for the Benue-Congo language family, which includes most of Volta-Niger]
* [http://www.african.gu.se/webresources/benuecongo.html Web resources for the Benue-Congo languages]


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