Learn more about Benue-Congo languages
|Subsaharan Africa, but not further west than Togo|
The Benue-Congo group of languages constitutes the largest branch of the Niger-Congo language family, both in terms of sheer number of languages, of which 938 are known (not counting mere dialects), and in terms of speakers, numbering perhaps 550 million. Within Niger-Congo, Benue-Congo is a branch of Volta-Congo. As a grouping it was first proposed by Joseph Greenberg (1963). Subsequent research has shown the boundary between Benue-Congo and some other Volta-Congo branches (e.g., Kwa), to be rather vague, indicating diversification of a dialect continuum rather than a clear split of families.
The main subgroupings of the Benue-Congo family, along with the most important languages in terms of number of speakers, are as follows (with number of constituent languages for each sub-branch in parenthesis):
- Akpes (1)
- Bantoid (668)
- Cross River (68)
- Defoid (16)
- Edoid (27)
- Idomoid (9)
- Igboid (7)
- Kainji (57)
- Nupoid (12)
- Oko (1)
- Plateau (46)
- Ukaan (1)
- Wolf, Paul Polydoor de (1971) The Noun Class System of Proto-Benue-Congo (Thesis, Leiden University). The Hague/Paris: Mouton.
- Williamson, Kay (1989) 'Benue-Congo Overview', pp. 248—274 in Bendor-Samuel, John & Rhonda L. Hartell (eds.) The Niger-Congo Languages — A classification and description of Africa's largest language family. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America.