Kordofanian languages

The kordofanischen languages ​​form a primary branch of the Niger - Congo languages ​​, which consists of a small group of about 25 languages ​​along with 320,000 speakers spoken in the area of the Nuba Mountains in Sudan.

The Kordofanian language group

The name " Kordofanisch " introduced in 1949 by Joseph Greenberg is not particularly felicitous because the Nuba Mountains not to the historic region of Kordofan ( Kordofan ) include, but only because adjacent. The Kordofanian language area represents an exclave of the otherwise largely cohesive Niger -Congo region, it is of the Nilo-Saharan languages ​​( Nubian, Nyimang, tema, Daju languages) and the Arabian surrounded.

The approximately 320,000 speakers of 25 kordofanischen languages ​​were and are heavily affected by the civil war and ethnic cleansing in Sudan - as all non-Arab population - and it is uncertain how many speakers still live in their traditional areas. The mean their languages ​​are Koalib, Tira, Moro, Dagik - Ngile and Tegali, each with about 30-40,000 speakers. None of kordofanischen language, there has been a comprehensive grammatical description, a reconstruction of Proto - Kordofanischen ( proto-language of the languages ​​kordofanischen ) was so far only in approaches possible.

Kordofanisch as a subunit of the Niger - Congo

The Kordofanian has split the first group of the Niger - Congo and has relatively few features in common with other Niger -Congo languages ​​. But these are enough to make according to current knowledge belonging probably to the Niger -Congo family. So showed Greenberg (1963) and Schade Berg ( 1981) that the Nominalklassenaffixe the kordofanischen languages ​​can regularly refer to the rest of the Niger - Congo languages ​​( an idea, the following table ). However, the lexical similarities of Kordofanischen with the rest of Niger - Congo are rather small, so that a residual doubt as to the classification of the kordofanischen languages ​​remains.

Nominalpräfixe the kordofanischen languages ​​compared ( Schade Berg 1981)

The following table gives some examples of word equations that comprise the Kordofanian and the other primary branches of the Niger - Congo. The sources are Greenberg 1963, Blench 1995 and Williamson 2000.

Word equations Kordofanisch - Niger - Congo

Classification of kordofanischen languages

According to Greenberg (1963 ), the Kordofanian divided into five subgroups: Heiban, Talodi, Rashad, Katla and Kadugli - Krongo. The last subgroup, Kadugli - Krongo or Kadu is now generally classified as a branch of the Nilo-Saharan. Greenberg had temporarily Kordofanisch as one of the two main branches of the entire Niger -Congo family understood - what it is, historically, too. This led to the now again discontinued designation Niger Kordofanisch, which is still used frequently outside of the technical literature.


  • Heiban East: Ko ( Fungur ) (3 thousand speakers), Warnang (1 thousand)
  • Central: Heiban ( Ebang ) (5 thousand), Laro (40 thousand), Otoro (15 thousand), LogoL (3 thousand); Koalib ( Rere ) (45 thousand)
  • West: Tira (40 thousand), Moro (30 thousand)
  • Talodi - Dagik: Talodi (1.5 thousand), Nding ( Eliri ) (4 thousand), Dagik - Ngile ( Masaki ) (40 thousand), Acheron, Lumun, Tocho, Torona †
  • Tegem: Lafofa ( Tegem ) (5 thousand)

Linguistic characteristics

The noun class system of the Niger - Congo languages ​​is pronounced in kordofanischen languages ​​to varying degrees. In some languages ​​of the groups Heiban, Talodi and Rashad, there are systems with about 15 classes with different prefixes for singular and plural for countable objects or beings (eg in LogoL, Nding and Tagoy ). Only proper names and kinship terms are not prefixed, the plural form of kinship terms is done by suffixes. Typical is the system of LogoL in whose classes often very heterogeneous things are grouped together, so that one can hardly speak of semantic fields. ( This is also true for the other kordofanischen class languages ​​in contrast to the Bantu languages ​​, where still outlines important fields of individual classes are visible. See there. )

Noun class system of LogoL

In other languages ​​(eg the Tegali of Rashad group) lack the noun classes entirely, the plural is formed by vocalic prefix and / or suffix - Vn. In Tagoy (also a language of Rashad group) are used in addition to the prefixes of the Pluralsuffixe - Vn and Vt. An extensive loss of Nominalpräfixe is observed in the Katla ( Kalak ). The plural is formed by decay of the g - Singularpräfixes, words in the plural without Singularpräfix add a prefix a- time. The situation is similar in the related Tima.

The präfigierenden class languages ​​usually have also concordance, ie the dependent subject words in a sentence have Formative that match the Klassenpräfixen the subject. The most complete concordance systems have the central Heiban languages ​​, such as Ebang and Otoro. Here are some example from the Otoro:

  • ŋ - ŋ -a are gw ele " a child of the chief " > ɲ -are ɲ -a - gw ele " children of the chief "
  • ŋ - ŋ - iɲni are " my child " > ɲ -are - ɲ iɲni " my children "
  • ŋ -are - ŋɨ ritɔ " the child dances" > ɲ -are - ɲɨ ritɔ " the children dance "

Similar structures occur in concordance Otoro the adjective attribute, demonstrative, relative clause, interrogative ( interrogative pronoun ), indefinite ( " some kid " ), numeral ( numeral ) and the pronominal object. In other languages ​​kordofanischen class concordance is not as pronounced and only in the noun phrase, but not in the subject-predicate relationship occurs, for example in appearance.

Verbal extensions are common in all kordofanischen languages ​​, but it is usually to innovations ( Neoplasms that do not originate from the Proto - Niger - Congo ). The word order is SVO ( subject-verb - object), with the glaring exception of Tegem ( Lafofa ), which has the basic position subject-object verb. There are only prepositions (no post positions ) is used. In the noun phrase the particular noun is the front (see the examples from the Otoro ), its extensions ( genitive attribute, attribute adjective, possessive, numeral and demonstrative ) follow. An exception is again the Tegem wherein the possessive noun its faces.