Atlantic languages

The Atlantic languages ​​( by Joseph Greenberg originally called " westatlantisch " ) were long regarded as the primary branch of the Niger - Congo. According to recent findings, however, it is a primarily geographically and sprachtypologisch conditional summary of several primary branches of the Niger - Congo.

The approximately 50 Atlantic languages ​​are from the mouth of the Senegal River along the African Atlantic coast to Liberia, especially in the present states of Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea- Bissau, Sierra Leone, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso of about 27 million people spoke.

Main languages

By far the most important Atlantic language is Fulfulde (also Ful, Fula, Fulani, Pulaar or Peul called ), whose dialects are spoken by 18 million native speakers and at least another four million secondary speakers (see below the outline of the Ful - dialects ). The Fulani are an ancient West African pastoral people, the settled or nomadic, priorities are now the states of Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin, Togo, Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania and Gambia in a large area in Sub-Saharan West Africa. More North Atlantic main languages ​​are closely related to the Fulfulde Wolof ( 8 million with secondary speakers, the main language of Senegal), Serer - Sine the 1.2 million speakers, and the South Atlantic Temne ( 1.5 million speakers, Sierra Leone).

Classification of Atlantic languages

The Atlantic breaks down into three main branches: the North Atlantic, with 24.5 million speakers of the largest branch, South Atlantic (2.5 million speakers ) and the isolated language Bijago or Bissagao, which is spoken on the Guinea- Bissau upstream Bissagos Islands and neither of the two great branches can be assigned. The Atlantic has an early age - split off from the main line of the Niger - Congo - about the same time as the Mande languages. The classification of the Atlantic follow the below weblink, all languages ​​are listed.

Classification of the Atlantic

  • Atlantic North Atlantic ( 33 languages ​​with 25 million native speakers, nearly 35 million, with the second- speakers ) Sene - Gambia Ful (18 million, with second speakers 22 million ) ( see Dialectal Outline Fulfulfe )
  • Wolof ( 3.7 million, 8 million, with second- speakers )
  • Serer - Sine ( 1.2 million)
  • Balanta: Balanta - Kentohe (350 thousand), Balanta - Ganja (100 thousand)
  • Diola Central: Diola ( Jola ) ( 350 thousand), Gusilay (10 thousand), Bandial (15 thousand); Ejamat (20 thousand), Kerak (10 thousand)
  • Karon Mlomp: Karon (10 thousand), Mlomp (5 thousand)
  • Kwaatay (5 thousand)
  • Bayot (15 thousand)
  • Tenda Biafada: Tenda (15 thousand), Wamei (20 thousand), Budik; Biafada (40 thousand), Badjara (10 thousand)
  • Well - Banjun: Kasanga (600) Kobiana ( 600); Banyun ( Bainouk ) (15 thousand)
  • Mel Temne - Baga Temnische language (1.5 million),
  • Baga: Koga, binarization, Manduri, Sitemu, Sobane †, † Kalum (all Baga together 32 thousand)
  • Landoma (15 thousand)

Linguistic characteristics

The Atlantic languages ​​had originally a fully trained noun class system by prefixes and augments (pre- prefixes ) was labeled and worked on Concordance to the entire set. The class prefix were later often ground off and replaced by suffixes or augments. The change of Anlautkonsonanten has grammatical meaning, often it marks the plural formation. The usual word order is SVO ( subject-verb - object), it will usually prepositions (no post positions ) were used. In the noun phrase the particular noun stands in front, ie noun genitive, noun numeral, noun demonstrative. The exact expression is language dependent.

Noun classes

The noun class systems of the Atlantic languages ​​are often very complex and in their structure quite different. The Ful has 20 to 25 noun classes with the corresponding concordance characters, the Serer distinguishes between 16 noun classes by prefixes and suffixes, the Wolof has a concordance system, but no class characters at the noun. Of the Cangin languages ​​( Saafi, Noon, Lehar; Ndut, Falor ), the first three a very reduced class system, characterized by suffixes, Ndut and Falor have no concordance. The Bak - languages ​​have up to 19 noun classes, consonant change occurs only in Mandjak and Papel. This small collection (after De Wolf 1981) shows the great variety of grammatical forms atlantic languages ​​that has some researchers also led to consider the South Atlantic group as an independent primary branch of the Niger - Congo. For the embedding of the Atlantic in the Niger - Congo speaking in particular the similarity of some Atlantic class prefix with those of the Bantu:

  • Mo - where - singular beings, cf Bantu mu-
  • Be the plural of living things, see Bantu ba -
  • Ma - collectives, see Bantu ma -

Anlautwechsel and plural formation

For Anlautwechsel and its function, some examples follow from the Fulfulde (see more detail in the article Fulfulde ). The nouns of Fulfulde are initially classified in the classes human ( person class ) and non -human (property class). The plural is formed in the nouns of the class with the following persons Anlautwechsel:

  • B > w / g, ch > s, d> r, g > w / y, j > y, k> h, p > f

In the plural form of nouns of the property class is done exactly the reverse change:

  • W> b / g, h> k, s > ch, f > p, y > j / g, r > d

Nasa Profiled Anlautkonsonanten ( / mb /, / nd /, / ng / ) do not change, nouns of the class of people with singular to / o / form the plural in addition to Anlautveränderung by the suffix / - mpe / or / s /. Here are some examples:

  • Amer " male person " > Plural worbe
  • Wordu "dog" > Plural gordi
  • Debbo "woman" > Plural Reube
  • Reuro " bitch" > Plural debbi
  • Konowo "warrior" > Plural honombe ( both Anlautwechsel and ending / mbe / )

These examples show that besides the Anlautwechsel are usually more sound changes, the formation of the plural form is thus ultimately to take only lexically.

For more information about the linguistic properties in the article Niger - Congo languages ​​.