Learn more about Volta-Congo languages
In the classification of African languages, Volta-Congo is a major branch (in terms of number of languages) of the Niger-Congo phylum. Itself part of Atlantic-Congo, the Volta-Congo branch is divided in two major groupings: East and West. West Volta-Congo is comprised of Kru, the Gur and Adamawa-Ubangi subfamilies and probably Senufo (if not included in Gur). East Volta-Congo consists of the Kwa and Benue-Congo subfamilies, the latter of which includes the well-known and particularly numerous Bantu group.
Comparative linguistic research by John M. Stewart in the sixties and seventies has helped establish the genetic unity of Volta-Congo and shed light on its internal structure. The vowel systems of Volta-Congo languages have been the subject of much historical comparative linguistic debate. Casali (1995) defends the hypothesis that the proto-Volta-Congo language originally had a nine- or ten-vowel system employing vowel harmony and that this set has been reduced to a seven vowel-system in many Volta-Congo languages. The Ghana Togo Mountain languages are examples of languages where nine- or ten-vowel systems are still found.
Williamson and Blench (2000) note that in many cases it is difficult to draw clear lines between the respective subfamilies of Volta-Congo and suggest that this might indicate the diversification of a dialect continuum rather than a clear split of families. This has been suggested before by Bennet (1983 as cited in Williamson and Blench 2000:17) in the case of the Gur and Adamawa-Ubangi subfamilies.
 See also
- Casali, Roderic F. (1995) 'On the Reduction of Vowel Systems in Volta-Congo', African Languages and Cultures, 8, 2, Dec, 109–121.
- Stewart, John M. (1976) Towards Volta-Congo reconstruction: a comparative study of some languages of Black-Africa. (Inaugural speech, Leiden University) Leiden: Universitaire Pers Leiden.
- Stewart, John M. (1985) 'Nasality patterns in the Volta-Congo foot.' Paper presented at the Colloquium on African Linguistics, Leiden, Sept. 1985.
- Williamson, Kay & Blench, Roger (2000) 'Niger-Congo', in Heine, Bernd and Nurse, Derek (eds) African Languages - An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University press, pp. 11–42.