Abstract and Keywords
Niger-Congo is the largest referential language group in Africa. The extent to which it represents a true genealogical grouping is not established, though there is a large core set of members of the family that all specialists currently accept as related. These languages spread across sub-Saharan Africa, and their most significant common feature from a comparative perspective is a distinctive type of noun class system. The largest subgroup of Niger-Congo is Benue-Congo, which includes the Bantu languages that dominate the southern part of the continent. From a typological perspective, Niger-Congo languages are quite varied, especially with respect to their degree of morphological elaboration. This is also true of Benue-Congo, with some of its languages having an isolating morphological character and others showing extensive agglutinating morphology. Future comparative work on the family would likely benefit from greater integration of the results of sociolinguistic investigations into models of its historical development.
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