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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter surveys the history of both the external and the internal classification of the Kwa family of languages within the Niger-Congo phylum. While Benue-Congo plays a primary role with respect to external relations, the hotly debated issue of the internal cohesion of the family as a whole is a central question in the discussion of Kwa subgrouping. The chapter takes a critical look at the arguments that have been brought forward in this discussion, in particular those involving lexicostatistics, lexical innovation, and sound changes, and establishes five subgroups that are considered to be uncontested. In addition, this chapter discusses contact phenomena within the Kwa family.

Keywords: Kwa, Niger-Congo, classification, lexicostatistics, lexical innovation, sound change, subgroup

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