Nilo-Saharan languages

related topics
{language, word, form}
{country, population, people}
{group, member, jewish}

The Nilo-Saharan languages are African languages spoken mainly in the upper parts of the Chari and Nile rivers (hence the term "Nilo-"), including historic Nubia, north of where the two tributaries of Nile meet. The languages extend through 17 nations in the northern half of Africa: from Mali in the west; to Benin, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the south; and Sudan to Tanzania in the east (excluding the Horn of Africa).

The largest part of its major subfamilies are found in the modern nation of Sudan, through which the Nile River flows in all its incarnations: the White and Blue Nile, which join to form the main Nile at Khartoum. As seen in the hyphenated name (compare map at right), Nilo-Saharan is primarily a family of the African interior, including the greater Nile basin and its tributaries as well as the central Sahara desert.

Joseph Greenberg named the group and argued it was genetic in his 1963 book The Languages of Africa and earlier papers. It includes languages not included in the Niger-Congo family Greenberg introduced in the same work or in the Afroasiatic or Khoisan families.

Contents

Characteristics

Roughly 11 million people spoke Nilo-Saharan languages as of 1987, according to Merritt Ruhlen's estimate.

A characteristic feature of the family is a tripartite singulative–collective–plurative number system, which is found in every branch but Gumuz. Internally, Nilo-Saharan is quite diverse.

Full article ▸

related documents
Cardinal vowel
Determiner (function)
Alternation (linguistics)
Deixis
Japanese wordplay
Pronoun
Hausa language
Norsemen
Comitative case
S
Pomeranian language
Alexandrine
Scriptio continua
Adamawa-Ubangi languages
Example-based machine translation
Four-letter word
Omega
Eth
Ecchi
Grammatical particle
Southern Ndebele language
Sandhi
English in the Commonwealth of Nations
Punctuation
Italic languages
Colloquialism
Phrase
Ebonics
Lexicon
Esperanto culture