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The forty or so Plateau languages are a tentative group of Benue–Congo languages spoken by 3.5 million people on the Jos Plateau and in adjacent areas in central Nigeria. The original formulation included the Jukunoid and Kainji languages, and later the Dakoid languages; Jukunoid and Kainji now form a parent branch of Plateau called Central Nigerian (Platoid). (See Benue–Congo.)

Plateau, Kaduna, and Nasarawa states, Nigeria
Linguistic classificationNiger–Congo
Map of the Plateau languages.svg
The Plateau languages shown within Nigeria

Berom and Eggon have the most speakers. Most Plateau languages are threatened and have around 2,000-10,000 speakers.[2]

Defining features of the Plateau family have only been published in manuscript form (Blench 2008). Many of the languages have highly elaborate phonology systems that make comparison with poor data difficult.

Branches and locationsEdit

Below is a list of major Plateau branches and their primary locations (centres of diversity) based on Blench (2019).[3]

Distributions of Plateau branches[3]
Branch Primary locations
Alumic Akwanga LGA, Nasarawa State
Beromic Barkin Ladi LGA, Plateau State and adjacent areas
Central Kachia and Jema'a LGAs, Kaduna State
East Mangu LGA, Plateau State
Ndunic Sanga LGA, Kaduna State
Ninzic Jema'a LGA, Kaduna State and Akwanga LGA, Nasarawa State
South Lafia LGA, Nasarawa State
Tarokoid Langtang and Wase LGAs, Plateau State


Little work has been done on the Plateau languages, and the results to date are tentative. The following classification is taken from Blench (2008).[4] Most of the branches are discrete constituents, though Central is a residual grouping and there are doubts about some of the purported Ninzic languages. Plateau languages as a whole share a number of isoglosses, as do all branches apart from Tarokoid.


Tarokoid (5)



Eggonic (2)

Jilic (2–4)

Ndunic (Ahwai) (1–3)

Alumic (4)

Ninzic (13–14)

East (2–3)

? Central (20)

Beromic (4)

Glottolog adds the Yukubenic languages.[5] Blench, however, places Yukubenic in the Jukunoid family,[6] following Shimizu (1980).[7]


Only some of the languages have nominal classes, as the Bantu languages have, where in others these have eroded. The large numbers of consonants in many languages is due to the erosion of noun-class prefixes.

Adjectives and possessive forms generally follow the noun.


Some Proto-Plateau quasi-reconstructions proposed by Roger Blench (2008) are:

No. Gloss Proto-Plateau
1. tree #ku-kon V-kon
2. leaf #(g)yaNa
4. dew #-myeŋe
12. wind #-gbulu
21. hunger #igbyoŋ
25. ear #ku-toŋ(ɔ)
26. mouth #ku-nyu
30. female breast #ambɛŋ
31. navel #i-kumbu
32. bone #-kupu
35. blood #-(n)ji
64. twelve/ten #isok-

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Benue–Congo Plateau". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Blench, Roger. 2007. Language families of the Nigerian Middle Belt and the historical implications of their distribution. Presented to the Jos Linguistic Circle in Jos, Nigeria, July 25, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Blench, Roger (2019). An Atlas of Nigerian Languages (4th ed.). Cambridge: Kay Williamson Educational Foundation.
  4. ^ Blench, Roger (April 2008). "Prospecting Proto-Plateau" (PDF). p. 2.
  5. ^ "Glottolog 3.0 - Yukubenic". Retrieved 2017-08-14.
  6. ^ "Jukunoid". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  7. ^ Roger Blench (15 November 2005). "Is there a boundary between Plateau and Jukunoid? (PDF Download Available)". ResearchGate. pp. 3, 5. Retrieved 2017-07-26.


External linksEdit