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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The so-called “Adamawa” languages are spoken in the sub-Saharan savannah belt, along the Upper Benue and its tributaries and in isolated pockets in southern Chad. Insufficient documentation and the marked linguistic diversity of the numerous language groups and isolates subsumed under “Adamawa” largely contributed to its contested status. So far, no convincing evidence was presented that “Adamawa” is indeed a distinct genetic unit, as proposed in earlier classifications. Within “Adamawa” only a minority of languages have preserved the heritage of a noun class system. Yet the remarkable morphological resemblances—supported by lexical correlates and typological analogies—found in class languages in two distinct “Adamawa” groups, as well as in various class languages of Central Gur, provide the strongest evidence contesting the validity of “Adamawa”. A larger Adamawa-Gur continuum which apparently occupied a contiguous area in the savannah belt before it became broken up appears to be more feasible.

Keywords: noun class system, Adamawa-Gur, classification, morphological resemblance, lexical correlate, typological analogy

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