Grassfields Languages
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Grassfields Languages
Wide Grassfields, Grassfields Bantu, Semi-Bantu
Western High Plateau of Cameroon
Linguistic classificationNiger-Congo
Map of the Grassfields languages.svg
Clickable map of the Grassfields languages and their subfamilies in western Cameroon

The Grassfields languages (or Wide Grassfields languages) are a branch of Benue-Congo spoken in the Western High Plateau of Cameroon and a sister group to the Bantu languages. Better known Grassfields languages include the Eastern Grassfields languages Bamun, Yamba and Bamileke and the Ring language Kom. The languages are closely related, sharing approximately half of their vocabulary.[2]


The Grassfields languages were previously known as Grassfields Bantu and Semi-Bantu. They are sometimes classified on two levels, Wide Grassfields, which includes all the languages, and Narrow Grassfields, which excludes Menchum, Ambele and sometimes the Southwest Grassfields languages. These may form a group of their own, which Nurse (2003) calls Peripheral Grassfields but rejects.

Blench (2010) notes there is little evidence for the traditional assumption that the non-Western Momo languages belong in Grassfields and that they may actually be closer to the poorly established Tivoid group; Western Momo is therefore renamed Southwest Grassfields to avoid confusion, and only Menchum and Ambele are left out of Narrow Grassfields. The classification of Amebele is unclear, though it is clearly divergent, and Menchum may be closer to the Tivoid languages (Blench 2011).[3] Blench (2012) suggests that Western Beboid may belong in Grassfields.[4] Blench (2010b) adds Momo as a Narrow Grassfields subgroup.[5]

Viti (Vötö) is unclassified Narrow Grassfields.

The Eastern Grassfields languages share nasal noun-class prefixes with the Bantu languages, which are not found in the other branches of Grassfields. However, they appear to be more closely related to the rest of Grassfields than they are to Bantu.

Names and locations (Nigeria)

Below is a list of Grassfields language names, populations, and locations (in Nigeria only) from Blench (2019).[6]

Language Cluster Alternate spellings Own name for language Endonym(s) Other names (location-based) Other names for language Exonym(s) Speakers Location(s)
Yamba Yamba Mbem Kaka (not recommended) few in Nigeria; 25,000 in Cameroon (1982 SIL) Taraba State, Sardauna, Gashaka LGAs, Antere and other border villages; mainly spoken in Cameroon
LamNs? Lam-Nsaw, Lam-Ns? Lam-Ns?' Ns?, Nsaw 125,000 in Cameroon (1987 SIL) Taraba State, Sarduana LGA, at Gembu and nearby towns; Takum LGA at Manya; mainly spoken in Cameroon
Limbum Limbum Wimbum few in Nigeria; 73,000 in Cameroon (1982 SIL) Taraba State, Sardauna LGA, Mambila uplands, mainly in Cameroon
Dzodinka Adiri, Adere Taraba State, Sardauna LGA; also in Cameroon: a single village on the border

See also


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Wide Grassfields". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Derek Nurse & Gérard Philippson, 2003, The Bantu Languages, p 227
  3. ^ Blench, Roger (2011). "'The membership and internal structure of Bantoid and the border with Bantu" (PDF). Berlin: Humboldt University. pp. 28, 30.
  4. ^ Roger Blench, Niger-Congo: an alternative view
  5. ^ Blenh, Roger (2010). "Classification of Momo and West Momo" (PDF).
  6. ^ Blench, Roger (2019). An Atlas of Nigerian Languages (4th ed.). Cambridge: Kay Williamson Educational Foundation.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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