Sara languages

The Sara languages comprise over a dozen Bongo–Bagirmi languages spoken mainly in Chad; a few are also spoken in the north of the Central African Republic. They are members of the Central Sudanic language family. Greenberg (1966) treats all varieties as dialects of a Sara language, whereas Tucker and Bryan (1966) consider the Sara to be a dialect cluster of several languages. Most members of the different Sara languages/dialects consider their speech form distinct languages, but there is currently insufficient language information to determine which speech varieties need to be considered distinct languages, and which are dialects of other languages.

Central Sara
EthnicitySara people
Chad, Central African Republic
Linguistic classificationNilo-Saharan?

The most populous variety of Sara proper is Ngambay (Sara Ngambay), a major trade language of southern Chad, with about a million speakers, though Sar (Sara Madjingay) is the lingua franca of Sarh.


The term "Sara Languages", sometimes called "Sara Proper Languages", is distinct from the so-called "Sara Kaba Languages". The latter include Sara Dunjo, Kaba Deme and Kaba Na. The term Sara itself is confusing, as within this family there exists a language named Sar, whose capital is Sarh. The term Kaba is likewise confusing. Kaba of Gore is not a Sara Kaba language, but rather a Sara language. Further, the Sara Kaba group includes a language named Sara Kaba


The Sara languages are:

West Sara
Central Sara (Doba)
  • Bedjond
  • Bebote
  • Mango
  • Gor
East Sara

The inclusion of Gulay with the Eastern Sara Languages is based on lexical comparison. Phonologically and morphologically Gulay behaves more like a Central Sara Language.

Boyeldieu (2006)Edit

Boyeldieu (2006)[1] classifies the Sara languages as follows.

  • Peripheral
    • Ndoka
    • Wad
    • Bagiro
    • Na
    • Tiye
    • Kulfa
    • Simé
    • 'Dem
  • Central
    • Sar
    • Mbay
    • Ngambay
    • 'Bedjond
    • Kaba P.
  • Others
    • Bulala
    • Beraku
    • Kenga
    • 'Barma


  1. ^ Boyeldieu, Pascal. 2006. Présentation des langues Sara-Bongo-Baguirmiennes. Paris: CNRS-LLACAN (online version).


  • Roger Blench (2012, ms)
  • Greenberg, Joseph H. (1966) The Languages of Africa (2nd ed. with additions and corrections). Bloomington: Indiana University.
  • Keegan, John M. (2012) Sara Languages Lexicon: French - Sara Languages, English - Sara Languages, Morkeg Books, Cuenca.
  • Keegan, John M. (2012). The Central Sara Languages. Cuenca: Morkeg Books.
  • Keegan, John M. (2012). The eastern Sara languages. Cuenca: Morkeg Books. ISBN 9781475177954. OCLC 931864379.
  • Keegan, John M. (2012). The Western Sara languages. Cuenca: Morkeg Books. ISBN 9781480296336. OCLC 940596877.
  • Keegan, John M. (2017-03-31), "Chapter 7. Syllables and syllable weight in Sara-Bagirmi languages", Syllable Weight in African Languages, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, vol. 338, John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 113–128, doi:10.1075/cilt.338.07kee, ISBN 9789027248572
  • Tucker, A.N. and M.A. Bryan (1966) Linguistic Analyses: The Non-Bantu Languages of North-Eastern Africa. Published for the International African Institute. London/New York/Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

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