Nilo Saharan langauges phylum-by A. Sosal A.


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a brief overview on Nilo-Saharan family

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Nilo Saharan langauges phylum-by A. Sosal A.

  1. 1. 1. Introduction The second largest family (among the four language phyla after Niger-Congo) in terms of bothnumbers of languages and numbers of speakers is Nilo-Saharan, and probably the second oldest family interms of the time depth of its differentiation. Bender 1996a has classified the languages of Nilo-Saharaninto three major types along a continuum: Outlier-Satellite-Core. The only languages to form a geneticgroup are the so-called “Core” languages to the right of figure1. It is the Outliers, the three nodes to theleft that have caused many headaches. Most of the names represent families, although For, Berta,Kunama, Gumuz are individual languages (Childs 51:2003). Nilo-Saharan Songhay Saharan Kuliak Maba Eeast Sudanic For Koman Central Sudanic Gumuz Berta Kado KunamaFigure 1: Nilo-Saharan (Bender 1996b, Bender 1996a)There are about 100 Nilo-Saharan languages. The language family as such is poorly substantiated, andmay or may not contain several members that will eventually end up in the unclassified category. Thefollowing is subcategorization of the Nilo-Saharan languages driven from Lionel Bender (1997), whomakes a distinction between a Core Group, Satellites and Outliers. Nilo-Saharan Core Group o East Sudanic -- at least 50 languages, incl. Maasai o Kado/Kadugli -- perhaps 5 languages o Koman -- four languages o Gumuz -- one language Satellites : probably Nilo-Saharan o Central Sudanic -- some 30-60 languages o Maban -- five languages o Foran -- two languages o Berta -- one language o Kunama -- one language Outliers : possibly Nilo-Saharan o Songay  North Songay: Korandje (in Algeria), Tasawaq, Tadaksahak, Thihishit/Tagdal  West Songay: Koyra Chiini (at Timbouctou), Djenne Chiini  East Songay: Koyraboro Senni (at Gao)  Central Songay: Humburi Senni  South Songay: Dendi, Zarma/Djerma, Kaado o Kuliak -- three languages
  2. 2. o Saharan -- some 5-10 languages Map 1 Nilo-Saharan We are going to in this paper survey some point of views about this phylum then we will show theevidences of the existence and subgrouping of this family. 2. Brief overview of Nilo-Saharan languagesThe up coming classification of the Nilo-Saharan languages is derived from Bender (1996-7: 20-37). A-Lrefers to high-level families modified from the original west-to-east listing. Sudan (S) refers to therepublic of Sudan. Other abbreviations (such as NE, NC) will be used too. i- Three independent families: A, B, K A. Songay: It is a dialect cluster comprises of six western varieties and four northern ones (which are Songay, Zerma, Dendi and Tadaksahak). It is found in central West Africa. As observed in Creissels 1981, there are “both grammatical and lexical similarities between Songay and Mande” attributable to contact (Williamson 1989b:9). Although its genetic affiliation has been debated, Songay represents yet another language (and perhaps another language group if we agree to put it in Nilo-Saharan) that has felt the imprint of the Mande boot (Childs 222:2003). B. Saharan: a cluster spoken in the east lake of Chad and NW Sudan. Contains Kanuri-Kanembu, Daza, Teda-Tubu, Zagawa-Bideyat-Berti. K. Kuliak: comprises of Ik(Teuso), Soo(Tepes) and Nyangi spoken in NE corner of Uganda. ii- A fourth large family with six branches: C, D, F, H, CoreC. Maban. Contains Bora-Mabang, Masalit, Aiki(Runga and Kibt), Kendeje, Surbakhal and Mimi;spoken in the middle Sudan-Chad border.D. Fur (for). (consists of fur and Amdang) Found in Darfur, Sudan.
  3. 3. F. Central Sudanic. Complex language and dialect cluster spoken in Cameroon, Southern Sudan,Northern Uganda and NE Zaire.F1. SaraBagirmi: Sar, Mbi, Bedjond, Barma or Bagirmi, Bilala, Jaya, Yulu/Binga, Furu, Fer, etc.F2. Bongo and Kara (spoken in northern CAR and SW Sudan).F3. Modo-Baka: B‟eli, Baka, Moda, Jur Modo, Morokodo (southern S and North Zaire).F4. Moru-Madi: Moru, Avokaya, Logo, Kaliko, Luluba, Madi (Southern S and northern Uganda).F5. Mangbutu-Efe: Efe, Ndo, Mamvo (Tengo), Balese (in NE corner of Zaire).F6. Mangbetu-Asua: Mangbetu, Lombi, Asu (in NC/NE Zaire).F7. Kresh-Aja: Kresh, Aja (in SW Sudan).F8. „Lendu‟: Ba(le)dhe, Bedi, Ngiti (in NE Zaire).G. Berta. It is spoken in middle S and Ethiopia border.H. Kunama. Dialect cluster found in SW Ethiopia.The Core. Consist of four branches. E. East Sudanic. This large complex family comprises of two parts: Map2 Distribution of the Eastern Sudanic branch with Nilo-Saharan. Ek. (1sg pronoun with k) E1. Nubian: Nobiin, Midob, Birgid, Kenzi-Dongola, Hill Nubian, etc (in Southern Egypt and Sudan). E3. Nera („Barya‟ or „Berta‟) in southern Eritrea.
  4. 4. E5. Nyima. Ama(Nyimang) and Dinik (Fitti) (in Nuba Hills Sc Sudan). E7. Tama. Tama, Erenga-Sungor, Merarit (in SC and W Sudan).En. (1sg pronoun n) E2. Surmic: Majang, Didinga-Murle-Tennet, Suri, Me‟er, Bale (in SW Ethiopia and Sudan). E4. Jebel or East Jebel, E Sudan: Gaam(Ingessena, Tabi), Aka(Sillok), Kelo, Molo(Malkan). E6. Temein of Nuba Hills: Ronge or Temein, Doni (Jirru, Tese). E8. Daju: Daju, Shatt, Liguri, Nyolge, Mongo, Sila, Beygo, Nayala-Lagowa (in W Sudan and E Chad). iii- Nilotic: E9 family of EnE9 Nilotic divided into three subgroups (referred to as West (a), East (b) and South (c)). Nilotic (a) foundin Sudan, NW Kenya and Tanzania. The Nilotic (Nilo-Saharan) language Luo (Luo is part of acluster of closely related languages, to which also Alur, Kumam, Acholi and Lango belong),spoken in western Kenya as well as neighbouring regions of Tanzania and Uganda, today isspoken by well of three million people. One important reason for this appears to have been amassive shift in language solidarity from neighbouring Bantu languages. The result was adramatic restructuring of the Luo language (Dimmendaal2008). “To be sure, Luo is structurallystill unambiguously a Nilotic language, but it is typologically no longer exactly as it was prior tolanguage contact with Bantu languages” (Heine & Nurse 2008:25).(E9a) Northern: Burun, Mebaan, Jumjum; Luo:-Northern: Colo(Shilluk), Jur, T(h)uri, Bor, Anywa(Anuak);-Southern Luo: Acoli, Alur, Lango, Kuman, Adola, Kenya Luo;-Dinka-Nuer: Jieng(dinka), Naadh(Nur), Atout.(E9b) Bari, Kawa, Mandari, Lotuko-Maa, Teso-Turkana.(E9c) Omotic (differ from that of Afroasiatic) and Datooga, Kalenjin. iv- Three small familiesi.koman . Twampa(Uduk), Gule: Komo, Kwama, Opo(Shita) (in E Sudan, W Ethiopia)j. Gumuz. Dialect cluster spoken in W Ethiopia and Sudan border north of Berta.l. Kadu or Kadugli-Krongo. Kanga, Kadugli, Katch-Miri, Keiga, Krongo, Mudo, Tumma(in Nubamountain). 3. Notes on some namesLanguages naming has a historical background which involves some kind of confusion. Non-ethnic names e.g. „talk-of-hill‟ (kore-gam, E4 Gaam). Clan or local names e.g. J Gumuz. Naming according to the prominent languages e.g. Songay, Maba.
  5. 5. Naming according to the obvious geographical features e.g. Saharan, Nilotic. Naming according to well established historical usage e.g. Nubian. Songay should not be confused with the Chadic language Surmic in Chad. Maban should not be confused with the Nilotic language of E9a Mebaan. There is an interchange between „o‟ and „u‟ in the Nilo-Saharan languages so there is no differences between „Fur‟ and „For‟; „Kado‟ and „kadu‟. Berta are called „Gamila‟ „People black‟ and „watawit‟ means „Bats‟. E3 language Barea is a variant of Barya an Amharic word for „Slave‟. 4. Cultural SurveyThere are three groups for the pre-urbanized Nilo-Saharan people: i- Hunters-gatherers: They are rare, today found in only in a few forests-dwelling Central- Nilotics. ii- Primary Pastoralists: they are also rare, found among Saharans, Surmics and Nilotics. iii- Agriculturalists: there are several agricultural complexes based on origins of plant and animal resources which are common among Nilo-Saharan and African speakers in general. 4.1. Political organization: it was of egalitarian band-level type with charismatic hunters or shamans with little real power of the village headman or chiefdom type. 4.2. Ideological system: it has three components (religious ones): i- Islam spread by Arab imperialism from the north and east of African coast. ii- Orthodox Christianity survived in the Coptic Church in Egypt. iii- Traditional beliefs systems survived even in minority Christian and Islamic areas. Judaism had little impact in Nilo-Saharan areas. 4.3. Physical variations: there are two minority populations among Nilo-Saharans: (i) A few „pygmies‟ or people of very small stature. (ii) „Elongated African‟ unusually tall people found among E2. 5. Demographic estimatesThere are some difficulties to arrive at an exact estimate of the Nilo-Saharan speakers for the following: (a) Lack of census data, (b) A high degree of multilingualism, (c) Insufficient knowledge of dialect boundaries, (d) Displacement by immigration and raiding, etc.Nilo-Saharan languages are spoken in significant numbers in fifteen African countries such as Ethiopia,Eritrea, Kenya, Tanzania, Zaire, Uganda, Sudan, etc. the greatest variety genetically are in Sudan, Chadand Ethiopia.The following table contains an estimation of the leading Nilo-Saharan languages speakers.Language(s) N. of Speakers Language(s) N. of Speakers1.Knuri-Kanembu 4,128,000 9.Maa 883,0004.Kenya Luo 3,408,000 10.Naadh 840,0003.Songay 3,227,000 11.Baledha 760,0004.Acoli, etc. 3,035,000 12.Mangbetu 650,0005.Jieng 1,350,000 13.Ngambai 600,0006.Teso 1,217,000 14.Nobiin 545,0007.Lugbara 1,077,000 15.Fur 517,0008.Kalenjin 989,000
  6. 6. Table1: Demographically leading Nilo-Saharan languages 6. Chronology of the Nilo-Saharan studies i. Older studies and classifications:There are two phases of this classification before and after Greenberg‟s genetic classification (1963a). (a) Westermann classification 1940 (of the African Languages): 1. Koisan: a. Nama, b. Bushman 2. Hamito-Semitic: a. Hamitic, b. Semitic 3. Negro: a. Nilotic, b. Bantu, c. Sudanic: i- Negritic ii- Mande iii- Semi-Bantu 4. Inner Sudan (b) Greenberg classification 1955 (sixteen units twelve of them are Nilo-Saharan): 1. Niger-Congo 5. Eastern Sudanic 9. Mimi 13. Koman 2. Songhai 6. Afroasiatic 10. Fur 14.Berta 3. Central Sudanic 7. Click 11. Temainian 15.Kunama 4. Central Saharan 8. Maban 12. Kordofanian 16.Nyangiyan (c) Greenberg classification 1963a (of the Nilo-Saharan phylum): A. Songhai E. Chari-Nile B. Saharan 1. East Sudanic C. Maban 2. Central Sudanic D. Fur 3. Berta F. Koman 4. KunamaRulhen (1987) suggested several reasons for why Nilo-Saharan is legged behind the other three phyla. 1- Relatively late European contact, 2- Little descriptive literature, 3- Relatively few languages than Afroasiatic or Niger-Congo, 4- Great internal heterogeneity, 5- Small and isolated groups.Nilotic was the centre of the Nilo-Saharan studies and developed as follows‟ Nilotic was divided into two groups (West vs. East and South). Meinhof claimed the „West‟ was not coordinated to the others instead it „mixed languages‟. Greenberg classified all of Nilotic as a family. Kohler reaffirmed the „West‟ vs. „East‟ and „South‟ division.Greenberg classifications inadequacies:  His databases are sometimes inadequate or biased e.g. overuse of Nilotic and Nubian in his Nilo- Saharan comparisons.  There are also more errors in data-entering than what is expected.
  7. 7. ii. Recent development in genetic classification: (a) Bender classification:It is based on survey of lexicon, segmental phonology and grammatical morphemes in those welldocumented Nilo-Saharan languages. Bender adopted the historical –comparative methodology bygrouping languages in their sharing of innovations. The following is Nilo-Saharan family tree iii. Nilo-Saharan ii. S-C Satellite-Core ‘Outliers’ ‘Satellite I. Core ’ E, I, J, L A B K C,D,F,G,HFigure2: Genetic classification of the Nilo-Saharan phylum.  „A‟ unit is the most controversial one, because of the geographical separation from other Nilo- Saharan and the strong influence of Mande language on it.  „B‟ Saharan was considered as a member of Nilo-Saharan but some affiliated it to Afroasiatic.  „K‟ Kuliak is surrounded by Nilotic languages which are influencing and replacing it gradually.  „C‟ Maban and „D‟ Fur are entangled with the various „Mimi languages of Chad-Sudan border.  „F‟ Central Sudanic and East Sudanic are not closed despite their similar names.  „H‟ Kunama is rather distinctive on many counts.  „G‟ Berta and East Sudanic seem to be closest.  „I‟ Koman and „J‟ Gumuz are quite distinct.One of those which are not well classified languages and seem to be Nilo-Saharan is Meroitic the extinctlanguage of Meroe Empire in Sudan. It is preserved in sparse formulaic written records. Benderconsidered it as the language of state-level civilization, influenced languages of the Sudan-Ethiopiaborder area, but can‟t be linked genetically to any of them. Another unsatisfactory classified languagesare Shabo and Ongota. (b) Francophone scholars studies:They have studies in Central and East Sudanic families as they produced works on tonal analysis, andsome full-length descriptions. (c) Tucker and Bryan 1966 suggested a large family called „Bongo-Bagirmi‟ (which is termed by bender as Fc „Core Central Sudanic‟). They suggested also the Eastern Sudanic which involves
  8. 8. „Moru-Mangbetu‟ and „Moru-Madi‟+‟Lendu‟. They are called by Bender Fp group „ Peripheral Central Sudanic‟. (d) Ehret‟s genetic classification:Following the previous methodologies of classification he built up a phonological isoglosses fromcomparison of an extensive lexical database. iii. Typological and areal survey: There are many factors can be used for classification for instance geographical location, political boundaries, speakers numbers, etc. „Hamitic‟ family is an obvious example of the external classification (which is misleading and harmful as well sometimes). Meinhof classified it according to mixture of external proprieties such as cattle possession by their speakers and internal typological features such as marking six gender markers. The internal criteria are of great importance to the linguists, who can provide a systematic genetic classification of languages to avoid arbitrary classification. The typological and areal factors are other two significant internal classification factors. (a) Typological factor: is based on proprieties of language which may reflect historical connection or contacts e.g. Kinds of tonal system, Presence of particular morphological features, Word-order phenomena, etcThere are few serious studies of typological classification n Nilo-Saharan. Meinhof used such typologicalfeatures as sex gender and presence of noun prefixes. Tucker and Bryan use mixture of typological andgenetic criteria in their work. (b) Areal factor: is based on diffusion of linguistic features allowing one to establish the existence of the linguistic area such as Afroasiatic –speaking Ethiopia. Lexicon presents a problem in the differentiation between the genetic and the areal they can be summed as follows:  Neighboring languages with lexical items which might e borrowed but the direction is unclear.  „Wanderworter‟ or words which seem to be found in many languages in a phylum or in several phyla.  „pan-Africanisms‟ which seems to be found in all or most phyla and which may be symbolic in origin. 7. Some reconstructed morphology and lexicon 7.1. Nilo-Saharan phylum languages grammatical relationsSome of the major retentions suggested by Bender (mentioned in Greenberg 1963a book too) to facilitatedefining Nilo-Saharan are the following. 7.1.1. Pronoun pattern Pi: 1/2/3 independent subject pronouns (especially in the singular) having vowels a/i/e, respectively. Often there is a lack for the 3rd person e. e.g. A Songay ay/ni B Zagawa 1sg.: ai C Maba am/mi/te D Fur ka/ji/ie 7.1.2. Pronoun pattern Po: 1/2/3 a/o ~ u/e especially in singular and sometimes in plural. EK Dongola pl.: ar/ur/ter EN Gaam aan/oon/een
  9. 9. FC Mangbetu poss.: -ander-a/-u-/e 7.1.3. First person singular pronoun *akwai = aka~(w)ai as there were alternative pronouns in NIilo-Saharan, sometimes plural pronouns also are based on this. I Komo aka K Ik gka L Miri a?a (?) 7.1.4. Second person singular *ini it is possible that m forms in BDK belong with this. The n sometimes disappear for instance in Nyimang and Tama only i retained as part of Pi. A Zerma ni EK Midob iin Fc Modo ni 7.1.5. Deictic pattern near/far or to/away a/u~u/a where „a’ and „u’ stands for a reasonable range of problems which are phonetically close to the one given. ‟Polarity‟ of representation seems common here. B Kanuri a-/tu- En Luo here/there: ka/ku Fp Miza to/away: -o/-a 7.1.6. Singular/plural a/i~i/a, found in all grammatical categories. The given examples are from occurrences with nouns. I T‟wampa animate: i-/-a H Kunama -a/-e K Kuliak demo.: na/ni 7.1.7. Copula y (E). Found in all families except GHJ. Copula k is even widespread (in all families except L Kadu) and T and n are nearly as widespread. A Zerma „become‟: tyi B Kanuri „and‟: ye…… Fc Yulu ya(da) 7.1.8. Verbal negation mV found in AEkEnHJK. Ek Nera ma En Murle maa H Kunama mme 7.1.9. Verbal transitive/causative or factitive t. C Maba nd- ~ nj- G Berta facitative: -(8) ig K Ik -it 7.2. Innovating language Bender (1991) identified seven major innovations and other 39 from the Satellite-Core group(S- C). Examples from these innovations are presented in the following lines. 7.2.1. Singular/plural n/g often it is only found in plural. n/g is found in En e.g. Surmic where in some cases possessive pronouns are in Maba and Fur are weak where there is a confusion between –k and n/g as a plural markers. C Maba prn. Pl: -g D Fur demo. pl.: k- A common number-marking system attested in a wide range of Nilo-Saharan languages (as proposedby Dimmendaal 2000) involves a three-way distinction between(i) nouns inflected for number in the plural,(ii) those inflected for number in the singular, and(iii) those taking a number marker both in the singular and the plural.For example in the Maban language Aiki (Runga) described by Nougayrol (1989). (Creissels 137:2088).
  10. 10. Singular Plurala`yo´-k a`yo´ „leaf‟k`olo´ k`ol`o-t „snake‟d`odi´ do´du´ „leg‟Collective nouns such as „leaf,‟ „hair,‟ or „tooth,‟ or words referring to items naturally occurring in pairs,such as „shoe,‟ „eye,‟ or „wing,‟ are usually morphologically unmarked in the plural in these Nilo-Saharanlanguages; the corresponding singular expresses an individuated item from a- collective or from a pair.(Creissels 138:2088). 7.2.2. Gender marker, 3rd sg. Pronouns: masculine/feminine/neuter r/b/n. The masculine marker is strong one e.g. in L Kaca y-/m-/n- Neuter is uncommon but consistent Feminine is inconsistent e.g. in Fc Bongo ba/ho/ne 7.2.3. Demonstrative pattern near/far i/e Ek Nera -yi/-it Ama ni/de I Komo masc.: ne/di 7.2.4. Demonstrative formative l, especially „far‟. C Maba wa-k/ille-k D Fur in/illa 7.2.5. Interrogative formative g. Fp Lugbara gereral interrogative marker ggo G Udu dialect „what?‟ naano, „who?‟ ndolo 7.2.6. Negative kV. Ek Nera pres., cont., fut.: ka En Majang ko-,ku- Fc Kara -ku 7.2.7. Passive-intransitive n. Fp Kresh -ine L Krongo -An-The previously mentioned examples are can provide a first step towards the massive reconstructionprocess of Nilo-Saharan morphology. 8. Some remarks on other features 8.1. Lexicon Bender (1996-7) used a lexical base of over 600 items divided into fifty semantic sets and excluding grammatical formatives. Thus this construction is divided into five classes: (A) Isoglosses of three qualities (excellent, good and fair) and three levels (Nilo-Saharan, Satellite-Core and Core); (B) Symbolic forms; (C) Areal or „pan-African‟ forms found in three phyla; (D) Items linking Nilo-Saharan and Niger-Congo; (E) Items linking Nilo-Saharan and Afroasiatic. (i) *ar- „rain‟ Examples A Gao, Zerma „water‟: har-i B Zagawa „river‟: or-u-i D Fur „river‟: roo (ii) *go „frog, turtle‟. A Core Isogloss, but the semantic must be considered. Ek g(w)o-
  11. 11. En go-gi (iii) *ku/ol- (?) „round or ring‟. A Songay gur-, kor- H Kunama -gul- En kUr (iv) *bUr- „earth, country or land‟. This item links Nilo-Saharan and Afroasiatic. C Masalit „sand‟: bor- G Berta -bor-, „down,: bul- H Kunama „down‟: ‘buur-Directional morphemesDirectional morphemes (deictic or non-deictic) attached to the verb are not very common in Africanlanguages in general, but they are common in Nilo-Saharan languages (in particular venitive andandative) (Creissels 167:2088). 8.2.PhonologyIn order to sort out the cognate sets the following interrelated processes are to be performed, i- Finding comparable items in sound and meaning ii- Checking to see if there is regularity in phonological correspondence.In a collection of some of Bender‟s works, he proposed a set of proto-phonemes and correspondences thatrepresents an early stage in Proto-Nilo-Saharan reconstructions.Examples of proto-phonemes (see Bernd & Nurse 2000: 86-69):Labials b, f, m, wAlveolar/dentals d, t, s, n, l, rVowels I, e/I, e, a, au, o, uAccording to their geographic distribution, labial-velar stops are found in Nilo-Saharan they are typical ofCentral Sudanic languages, and also occur in Dendi Songay, spoken in Benin, and some Nilotic languages(Kuku Bari of southern Sudan, Alur of the DRC) (Clements & Rialland 62:2008).Example of correspondences across the languages:D d in ABK, occasionally k has t; d ~ t in Satellite, t in CoreConsonants identified in the initial position because it is of a great contrast. (i) B Kanuri „branch‟: dalam I Opo dor-o? (ii) t: Nilo-Saharan *tAr- „sky, up, god, lighting, outside C Masalit dol-e L Krongo „lighting‟: tal- (iii) D and o: Nilo-saharan *Dog „mud, earth, field, mountain‟ K Soo dog Ek tOg J Sese tok’-wa, ko-togw-aFor further details about the above see Heine & Nurse (2000: 86-70)
  12. 12. 8.2.1. Vowel harmony Simply, vowel harmony is the sharing of a feature, typically by non-contiguous vowels separated by atleast one consonant (Childs 89-90:2003). An outstanding property relating to the vowel system canbe seen in the presence of cross-height vowel harmony based on distinctions of the tongue rootposition, commonly known as ATR (advanced tongue root) vowel harmony. It is widespread inNiger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan languages across the continent but appears to be rare outsideAfrica (Heine & Leyew 2008:40). Example,Sub-phonemic Zulu vowel height harmony (Childs 89-90:2003). a. „this one here‟ le-lo [lelo] „that one over there‟ le-li [leli] b. [leth-a] „bring!‟ [a-ba-leth-i] „they do not bring‟ [bon-a] „see!‟ [a-ba-bon-i] „they do not see‟ c. [uku-m-el-a] „represent‟ vs. [um-me-e-li] „lawyer‟ [uku-sfl-a] „suspect‟ vs. [um-sol-i] „one who mistrusts‟ 8.2.2. P-lessness P-lessness is an African feature is present in Nilo-Saharan languages, including the Songay and NileNubian groups. P-lessness spills over into adjacent areas of the Sudanic belt, where we find it for examplein several northern Nilo-Saharan languages including Maba and Tama (central Chad), Nyimang (Sudan),and Kunama and Nera (Eritrea) (Clements & Rialland 85:2008). 8.2.3. ToneMost Nilo-Saharan languages are tonal and exhibit features similar to those of Niger-Congo languages,except that grammatically distinctive tones are sometimes commoner than lexically distinctive tones.(Clements & Rialland 90:2008). 8.3.GrammarMarked nominative system: Marked nominative occurs essentially only in two of the four language phyla of Africa, namelyAfroasiatic and Nilo-Saharan. In Turkana (an East Nilotic language of the Nilo-Saharan phylum) it isrepresented by tone. In general, two tones are distinguished: high tone (left unmarked) and low tone(marked with a grave accent). Seven cases are distinguished: accusative, nominative, genitive,instrumental, locative 1 (encoding location and destination), locative 2 (like an ablative), and vocative.All cases are marked by tone (Ko¨nig 275-283:2008).(1) Turkana (East Nilotic, Nilo-Saharan)a. ` e-sa`k-` i a-p` a a-k-` imuj VAO 3-want-A father.NOM food.ACC „Father wants food‟ (Dimmendaal 1983b: 263)b. `e-j`ok a-wuy-`e nag`a VS 3-good home-NOM this „This homestead is nice‟ (Dimmendaal 1983: 263)All Nilo-Saharan marked-nominative languages are either verb-initial (East and South Nilotic, Surmic) orverb-medial (West Nilotic, Surmic). Nilo-Saharan, marked nominatives are found only in the EasternSudanic branch, to which Nilotic and Surmic belong (Ko¨nig 275-283:2008).Subject and object marking:Within the Nilo-Saharan phylum subject marking, and to a lesser extent object marking, is very common,as the table below shows. Within this phylum there is an interesting correlation between constituent order
  13. 13. and dependent-marking versus head-marking strategies. Whereas so-called verb-final Nilo-Saharangroups tend to have extensive case marking systems, language groups with other dominant constituentorder types, e.g. Nilotic or Surmic, which are verb-initial or verb-second, manifest a decrease inperipheral case marking and an increase in head marking at the clause level (Dimmendaal 303-311:2008).Language group ProOb Constituent order Periph. cas ProSuSaharan yes V-final yes yesMaban yes V-final yes yesFur no V-final yes yesKunama yes V-final yes yesEastern SudanicNubian no V-final yes yesTama no V-final yes yesNyimang no V-final yes noTable2: Dependent marking in Nilo-Saharan* Peripheral case: Dative, Instrument, Locative, Ablative, Genitive. 9. Conclusion There are questions with regard to Nilo-Saharan constituency and members‟ relationships, aswell as to its relationship to other phyla, particularly, Niger-Congo. At least one leading scholarconsiders Nilo-Saharan to be the least known of the four phyla (Bender 1996a: 10), althoughothers argue that Khoisan deserves the honor. Nilo-Saharan has certainly engendered muchclassificatory interest. As stated by Bender (2000: 43), “of the four „Greenbergian phyla‟…. Nilo-Saharan is probablythe least widely accepted.” Indeed, this view seems to be widespread, in particular among non-specialists. But it is not clear what this scepticism is based upon; there may in fact be a-psychological reason for this. Contrary to a widely held belief that Greenberg was just lumpingtogether left-over languages, in actual fact his classification was based on a judicious evaluationof the existing evidence. In his 1963 classification, language groups and languages formerlyconsidered to be isolated units, such as the Songai cluster, Saharan, the Maban group plus Mimi,Fur, the Kunama cluster, and the Koman group plus Gumuz were grouped together in a newphylum called Nilo-Saharan. More and more grammatical evidence has emerged over the pastdecades for a Nilo-Saharan phylum, as a result of improved descriptions and historical-comparative studies on lower-level units. But two groups do not appear to fit in with theemerging historical reconstructions, Songai and Koman plus Gumuz. The only all-embracingcomparative study of the Nilo-Saharan today is Ehret (2001), who in fact includes Songai andKoman as members of this phylum. The author presents some of the grammatical evidence forNilo-Saharan now available, e.g. with respect to case marking, number marking, and themorphology of major categories like nouns and verbs.
  14. 14. References list - Bender Lionel; Nilo-Saharan; in African languages: an Introduction, ed. Bernd & Nurse (2000), Cambridge Univ. Press. - Bender, Marvin Lionel; (1997); The Nilo-Saharan languages: a comparative essay. 2nd edition; Lincom handbooks in linguistics, n. 6. Lincom Europa. - Childs George Tucker(2033), An Introduction to African Languages, John Benjamins Publishing Co., Amsterdam Gerrit J. Dimmendaal, Africa‟s verb-final languages‟ Christa Ko¨nig; The marked-nominative languages of eastern Africa, Denis Creissels et al., Africa as a morphosyntactic area, G.N. Clements and Annie Rialland; Africa as a phonological area, Bernd Heine and Zelealem Leyew; Is Africa a linguistic area? In, - A Linguistic Geography of Africa, ed.: Heine & Nurse (2008), Cambridge University Press, New York - Gerrit J. Dimmendaal(2008); Language ecology and genetic diversity on the African continent; Language and Linguistics Compass 2/5 (2008): 840–858, Blackwell Publishing Ltd
  15. 15. By Ahmed Sosal A. Supervisor Dr. Maha Abdu AldawiDepartment of LinguisticsUniversity of Khartoum December 2011