In the last few decades great strides have been made in the study and classification of the African languages, although the results are still far from definitive. The principal linguistic families of Africa are now generally said to be Afroasiatic ; Niger-Kordofanian (including Niger-Congo); Nilo-Saharan; and Khoisan, or Click; two other stocks, Indo-European and Malayo-Polynesian , are also represented. Niger-Kordofanian and Nilo-Saharan are two large families of languages spoken exclusively in Africa. These languages are spoken in all parts of the continent, from the extreme south up to the territory of the Afroasiatic languages of N Africa. The Afroasiatic family is also spoken in the Middle East. Some authorities believe that the languages spoken in the Niger-Kordofanian and Nilo-Saharan families are sufficiently similar to suggest that both stocks had the same ancestor language.
Sections in this article:
- Indo-European and Malayo-Polynesian
- Twentieth-Century Developments
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Language and Linguistics