An evaluation of Niger-Congo classification

Statement of Responsibility:
Olson, Kenneth S

This paper examines the presently received classification of the Niger-Congo language family, with the aim of evaluating the classification and suggesting areas of further research. We find that the exact placement of Ijoid, Kru, and Dogon within the Niger-Congo tree remains to be determined and that the unity of each of the following nodes needs to be better established: Atlantic, (new) Kwa, (new) Benue-Congo, Wide Bantu, Narrow Bantu, and Adamawa-Ubangi. The macro classification is based on the method of resemblances, with refining based on lexicostatistics paired with the examination of shared innovations. The comparative method has mostly been applied at a micro level to specific subgroups. A comprehensive reconstruction of Niger-Congo, including the establishment of sound laws, remains the major future task.

27 pages
Language classification
historical linguistics
Content Language:
Nature of Work: