Mel languages

The Mel languages are a branch of Niger–Congo languages spoken in Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. The most populous is Temne, with about two million speakers; Kissi is next, with half a million.

Southern (West) Atlantic [reduced]
Guinea-Bissau through Liberia
Linguistic classificationNiger–Congo
  • Temne
  • Sua–Kissi


Mel has traditionally been classified as the bulk of a southern branch of a West Atlantic branch of Niger–Congo. However, these are geographic and typological rather than genealogical groups; Segerer (2010) shows that there is no exclusive relationship between Mel and the other southern languages, Sua (Mansoanka), Gola and Limba.



Baga languages


Bullom languages


Fields (2004) splits Mel into a Highlands group originating in Guinea, and also a Bullom-Kisi-Gola group.[2]

Fields (2008:83) proposes that the homeland of Proto-Mel is located in the north-central highlands of Sierra Leone just to the south of the Lesser Scarcies River, rather than on the coast. The homeland of Proto-Highlands is located along the middle stretches of the Konkoure River in Guinea, just to the northeast of Conakry (Fields 2008:85).[3]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mel". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Fields, Edda L. Before "Baga": Settlement Chronologies of the Coastal Rio Nunez Region, Earliest Times to c.1000 CE. In: The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 2 (2004), pp. 229-253. Boston University African Studies Center.
  3. ^ Fields-Black, Edda L. 2008. Deep Roots: Rice Farmers in West Africa and the African Diaspora. (Blacks in the Diaspora.) Bloomington: Indiana University Press.