18 Facts About Niger-Congo languages


Niger-Congo languages is a hypothetical language family spoken over the majority of sub-Saharan Africa.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,104

One of the most distinctive characteristics common to Atlantic-Congo Niger-Congo languages is the use of a noun-class system, which is essentially a gender system with multiple genders.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,105

Similar classifications to Niger-Congo languages have been made ever since Diedrich Westermann in 1922.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,106

However, there has been active debate for many decades over the appropriate subclassifications of the Niger-Congo languages in this language family, which is a key tool used in localising a language's place of origin.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,107

Various Kordofanian Niger-Congo languages are spoken in south-central Sudan, around the Nuba Mountains.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,108

Katla and Rashad Niger-Congo languages show isoglosses with Benue-Congo that the other families lack.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,109

Some authors saw the latter as Niger-Congo languages which had not yet completely evolved to full Bantu status, whereas others regarded them as Niger-Congo languages which had partly lost original features still found in Bantu.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,110

In other words, all Niger-Congo languages are equal, but Bantu languages are “more equal” than the others.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,111

Niger-Congo languages's evidence was mainly based on the uncertainty in the classification of Songhay, morphological resemblances, and lexical similarities.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,112

Niger–Congo Niger-Congo languages have a clear preference for open syllables of the type CV .

FactSnippet No. 1,133,113

The typical word structure of Proto-Niger-Congo languages is thought to have been CVCV, a structure still attested in, for example, Bantu, Mande and Ijoid - in many other branches this structure has been reduced through phonological change.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,114

Several branches of Niger-Congo languages have a regular phonological contrast between two classes of consonants.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,115

Fact that ten vowels have been reconstructed for proto-Ijoid has led to the hypothesis that the original vowel inventory of Niger-Congo languages was a full ten-vowel system.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,116

Only a few Niger–Congo Niger-Congo languages are non-tonal; Swahili is perhaps the best known, but within the Atlantic branch some others are found.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,117

Proto-Niger-Congo languages is thought to have been a tone language with two contrastive levels.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,118

Niger–Congo Niger-Congo languages are known for their system of noun classification, traces of which can be found in every branch of the family but Mande, Ijoid, Dogon, and the Katla and Rashad branches of Kordofanian.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,119

Noun phrases in most Niger–Congo Niger-Congo languages are characteristically noun-initial, with adjectives, numerals, demonstratives and genitives all coming after the noun.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,120

Also noteworthy in these Niger-Congo languages is the prevalence of internally headed and correlative relative clauses, in both of which the head occurs inside the relative clause rather than the main clause.

FactSnippet No. 1,133,121