Bantoid languages

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Bantoid is a putative major division of the Benue–Congo branch of the Niger–Congo language family. It consists of the Mambiloid languages (including two outlying languages sometimes not included in Mambiloid, Ndoro and Fam), the Dakoid languages and the Tikar language, all in Nigeria and Cameroon, and the Southern Bantoid languages, a major division which also includes the Bantu languages spoken across most of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa, but not farther west than Nigeria
Linguistic classificationNiger–Congo
Map of the Bantoid languages.svg
The Bantoid languages shown within the Niger–Congo language family. Non-Bantoid languages are greyscale.


The term "Bantoid" was first used by Krause in 1895 for languages that showed resemblances in vocabulary to Bantu. Joseph Greenberg, in his 1963 The Languages of Africa, defined Bantoid as the group to which Bantu belongs together with its closest relatives; this is the sense in which the term is still used today.

However, according to Roger Blench, the Bantoid languages probably do not actually form a coherent group.[2]

Internal classificationEdit

A proposal that divided Bantoid into North Bantoid and South Bantoid was introduced by Williamson.[3][4] In this proposal, the Mambiloid and Dakoid languages (and later Tikar) are grouped together as North Bantoid, while everything else Bantoid is subsumed under South Bantoid; Ethnologue uses this classification.

The phylogenetic unity of the North Bantoid group is sometimes thought to be questionable, and the Dakoid languages are often now placed outside Bantoid.[citation needed] But the work did establish Southern Bantoid as a valid genetic unit. Southern Bantoid includes the well known and numerous Bantu languages.[5]

The Bantoid branches of Nigeria and Cameroon


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bantoid". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Roger Blench. "Niger-Congo: an alternative view" (PDF). pp. 2, 4. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  3. ^ Williamson, Kay (1989) 'Niger–Congo Overview'. In: The Niger–Congo languages, ed. by John Bendor-Samuel, 3–45. University Press of America.
  4. ^ Blench, Roger [1987] 'A new classification of Bantoid languages.' Unpublished paper presented at 17th Colloquium on African Languages and Linguistics, Leiden.
  5. ^ Williamson, Kay & Blench, Roger (2000) 'Niger–Congo', in Heine, Bernd and Nurse, Derek (eds) African Languages – An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University press, pp. 11–42.

External linksEdit