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.)
The Plateau languages shown within Nigeria
Defining features of the Plateau family have only been published in manuscript form (Blench 2008). Many of the languages have "fearsomely complex" phonologies that make comparison with poor data difficult.
Berom and Eggon have the most speakers. Most Plateau languages are threatened and have around 2,000-10,000 speakers.
Little work has been done on the Plateau languages, and the results to date are tentative. The following classification is taken from Blench (2008). 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Blench, Roger (April 2008). "Prospecting Proto-Plateau" (PDF). p. 2.
- "Glottolog 3.0 - Yukubenic". glottolog.org. Retrieved 2017-08-14.
- "Jukunoid". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
- Roger Blench (15 November 2005). "Is there a boundary between Plateau and Jukunoid? (PDF Download Available)". ResearchGate. p. 3, 5. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
- Blench (2008) Prospecting proto-Plateau. Manuscript.
- Plateau materials from Roger Blench