Learn more about Adamawa-Ubangi languages
The Adamawa-Ubangi languages are spoken in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, southern Sudan, and the Central African Republic, by a total of about 12 million people. The group belongs to the Niger-Congo language family. It is divided into two groups:
The group was first set up by Joseph Greenberg (The Languages of Africa), under the name Adamawa-Eastern. Within Niger-Congo, its closest affiliation is widely believed to be with Gur, although the internal classification of Niger-Congo still has many uncertainties.
The Adamawa languages are among the least studied in Africa, and include many endangered languages; by far the largest of the nearly one hundred small Adamawa languages is Mumuye, at 400,000 speakers. A couple of unclassified languages - notably Laal and Jalaa - are found along their fringes. Ubangian languages, while nearly as numerous, are somewhat better studied; one in particular, Sango, has (in creolized form) become a major trade language of central Africa.
Adamawa-Ubangi languages often have partial vowel harmony, involving restrictions on the co-occurrence of vowels in a word.
As in most branches of the Niger-Congo phylum, noun class systems are widespread. Adamawa-Ubangi languages are notable for having noun class suffixes rather than prefixes. The noun class system is no longer fully productive in all languages.
Some of the subject pronouns (Boyd 1989) seem to have originally been along the lines of:
- "I": *mi or *ma
- "you (sg.)": *mo
- "you (pl.): *u, *ui, *i (+n?)
The third person pronouns vary widely.
In possessive constructions, the possessed typically precedes the possessor, and sentence order is usually Subject Verb Object.
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