Kordofanian languages

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The Kordofanian languages are a geographic grouping of three to five language families spoken in the Nuba Mountains of Kordofan Province, Sudan. In 1963 Joseph Greenberg added them to the Niger-Congo family, creating his Niger-Kordofanian proposal. The Kordofanian languages have not been shown to be more distantly related than other branches of Niger-Congo, however, nor have they been shown to constitute a valid group. Today the Kadu family is excluded, and the other four usually included in Niger-Congo proper.



The Heiban languages, also called Koalib or Koalib-Moro, and the Talodi languages, also called Talodi-Masakin, are closely related.[1]


The number of Rashad languages, also called Tegali-Tagoi, varies among different descriptions, from two (Williamson & Blench 2000), three (Ethnologue), to eight (Blench ms). Tagoi has a noun-class system like the Atlantic Congo languages—apparently borrowed,—while Tegali does not.

Katla languages

Roger Blench notes that the Talodi and Heiban languages have the noun-class systems characteristic of the Atlantic-Congo core of Niger-Congo, but that the two Katla languages have no trace of ever having had such a system, whereas the Kadu languages and some of the Rashad languages appear to have acquired noun classes as part of a Sprachbund rather than having inherited them. He concludes that the Kordofanian languages do not form a genealogical group, but that Talodi and Heiban are core Niger-Congo whereas Katla and Rashad form a peripheral branch along the lines of Mande.

Kadu languages

Since Schadeberg 1981c, the "Tumtum" or Kadu branch is now widely seen as Nilo-Saharan. However, the evidence is slight, and a conservative classification would treat it as an independent family.


  • Herman Bell. 1995. The Nuba Mountains: Who Spoke What in 1976?. Being a study of the published results from a major project of the Institute of African and Asian Studies: the Language Survey of the Nuba Mountains.
  • Roger Blench. Unpublished. Kordofanian and Niger-Congo: an evaluation of the evidence.
  • P. A. and D. N. MacDiarmid. 1931. "The languages of the Nuba Mountains." Sudan Notes and Records 14: 149-162.
  • Carl Meinhof. 1915-1919. "Sprachstudien im egyptischen Sudan". Zeitschrift für Kolonialsprachen 9-9. "1. Tagoy." 6: 164-161. "2. Tumale". 6:182-205. "11. Tegele." 7:110-131. "12. Rashad." 7:132.
  • Thilo C. Schadeberg. 1981a. A survey of Kordofanian. SUGIA Beiheft 1-2. Hamburg:Helmut Buske Verlag.
  • Thilo C. Schadeberg. 1981b. "Das Kordofanische". Die Sprachen Afrikas. Band 1: Niger-Kordofanisch, ed. by Bernt Heine, T. C. Schadeberg, Ekkehard Wolff, pp. 117-28 SUGIA Beiheft 1-2. Hamburg:Helmut Buske Verlag.
  • Thilo C. Schadeberg. 1981c. "The classification of the Kadugli language group". Nilo-Saharan, ed. by T. C. Schadeberg and M. Lionel Bender, pp. 291-305. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.
  • Brenda Z. Seligmann. 1910-11. "Note on the language of the Nubas of Southern Kordofan." Zeitschrift für Kolonialsprachen 1:167-188.
  • Roland C. Stevenson. 1956-57. "A survey of the phonetics and grammatical structure of the Nuba Mountains languages, with particular reference to Otoro, Katcha, and Nyimang." Afrika und Übersee 40:73-84, 93-115; 41:27-65, 117-152, 171-196.
  • A. N. Tucker and M. A. Bryan. 1956. The Non-Bantu Languages of North-Eastern Africa. (Handbook of African Languages, Part III.) Oxford University Press: London.
  • A. N. Tucker and M. A. Bryan. 1966. Linguistic Analyses/The Non-Bantu Languages of North-Eastern Africa. (Handbook of African Languages.) Oxford University Press: London.
  • Lorenz Tutschek. 1848. "Über die Tumale-Sprache." Gelehrte Anzeigen, herausgegeben von Mitgliedern der k. bayer. Akademie der Wissenschaften. Nrs. 91-93; Spalten 729-52. (=Bulletin der königl. Akademie der Wissenschaften. Nrs. 29-31.)
  • Lorenz Tutschek. 1848-50. "On the Tumali language". Proceedings of the Philological Society for 1846-47 and 1847-48. Vol 3:239-54. Proceedings of the Philological Society for 1848-49 and 1849-50. Vol. 4:138-9.

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