Talk:Nilo-Saharan languages

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Could anybody name a linguistic reserch exept the one of Greenberg that Nilo-Saharan languages are genetically related - thus a phylum and not a group! As far as I know there are only two other scientific publications about this subject - both very critical that Nilo-Saharan is a phylum:

  • Bender, M. L.: Nilo-Saharan overview. 1976
  • Köhler, O.: Geschichte und Probleme der Gliederung der Sprachen Afrikas. Die Völker Afrikas und ihre traditionellen Kulturen. Edited by H. Baumannn
See the bibliography. Also, see the many fruitful Proceedings of the Nth Nilo-Saharan Conference books. - Mustafaa 07:25, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Total number of speakers[edit]

First of all: I do not know anything about NS languages, and I hope the experts can clear this up. It is stated in the beginning of the article that there are about 11 million speakers of NS languages. Further on, it is stated that there are many languages within the group that have more than a million speakers each, and the total sum for all the languages with #speakers listed far exceeds 11 million. Either some number(s) is incorrect, or there is a very large prevalence of multilinguality among speakers of NS languages. If the former, corrections are in order. If the latter, the level of multilinguality should be noted, preferably with supporting citations/links. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:17, 29 September 2010 (UTC)


I've been busy creating maps for African language families. (See also African language families.png.) I'm planning to provide Niger-Congo, Afro-Asiatic, and Khoi-San with maps like the one I just added to Nilo-Saharan. It is an experiment, and the maps are subject to change. Any comments on the maps are welcome, here, or on my Talk page. - Strangeloop (talk) 12:32, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Improvement Drive[edit]

The article on Acholi language is currently nominated to be improved on Wikipedia:This week's improvement drive. If you can contribute or want it to be improved, you can vote for this article there.--Fenice 16:42, 17 July 2005 (UTC)


The main article has expressed doubt about the whole of Nilo-Saharan, with remarks like "extremely diverse...rather controversial... denied its validity." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:52, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

We now learn that Nilo-Saharan is "quite diverse". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:23, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
We now learn that Nilo-Saharan is "very diverse". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:07, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
Are you making a point? — kwami (talk) 12:53, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Issues with every "Nilo-Saharan" language info box[edit]

As Nilo-Saharan is not considered a valid language family by many scholars, every info box on every language should be changed to reflect this. I have noticed question marks but perhaps there should be a controversial in parentheses? Azalea pomp (talk) 20:23, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

Why take up the space in an infobox that is included everywhere? Large-scale families are as likely as not to be controversial. Readers know this is a possibility and details are just a click away. --JWB (talk) 20:28, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

Large-scale families "are as not likely to be controversial" is original research and I would like a source for that bold statement from a good linguist. Also, I would not assume readers know about anything a click away. The Altaic pages have controversial in their infoboxes. Khoisan for example is now not believed to be a valid language family by most scholars who actually specialize in these languages. Azalea pomp (talk) 03:56, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
Altaic is an excellent example of the ubiquitous "controversial" label being superfluous. Altaic is a historically long-established term. The recent, very technical, unresolved discussions of whether it is a genetic group are detail for the article, not something that has to be mentioned every time the name is mentioned.
"OR" applies to statements in articles, not to discussion with you. I'm not sure what you are questioning here since all of the groups you have mentioned so far you seem to view as controversial. I am saying that readers should not expect that simply mentioning or listing a large-scale language group means that no scholar in the world questions its genetic relationship. --JWB (talk) 18:28, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
Altaic may be an old proposal, but that does not demonstrate that Altaic is a valid language family as the age of a proposal has no bearing on language classification. There is nothing superfluous about the controversial label. The infoboxes for languages should only contain accepted information and if they do have information which is not agreed among by linguists then there should be some kind of note. Nilo-Saharan is a proposal by some linguists and it is for sure not agreed upon to be a language family, at least for many of the branches. Not even all of the branches of Nilo-Saharan themselves are necessarily valid families. Azalea pomp (talk) 18:45, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
The point is that genetic relatedness is not the only or even the main salient fact about language groupings. Wikipedia documents what is notable; it does not make judgement on what is correct or not. It is not for you as an editor to arbitrarily decide some are controversial and some are not. There has been some degree of controversy about most language grouping proposals. --JWB (talk) 21:33, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
One can find via reading academic sources about what is controversial or not. It is not arbitrary. Controversy is not perhaps the best term, but there is a lack of consensus on many of the larger language groupings such as Khoisan and Nilo-Saharan. There is a consensus on Indo-European, Dravidian, and mostly for Sino-Tibetan and Austronesian. In any event wikipedia pages must conform to the academic materials and Nilo-Saharan is a proposal by a few linguists and not accepted as a valid genetic family. With regards to language groupings, genetic relatedness is everything. I am not sure what other possible grouping other than geographic (Sprachbund) which is outside the info needed in an info box. Azalea pomp (talk) 23:42, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
"there is a lack of consensus on many of the larger language groupings" - that's what I've been saying. Articles should document the major POVs in each case. Brief references to the grouping should not try to reduce the debates to a single yes or no which is inevitably an editor's judgement and OR.
Dravidian is hardly a large group. There are certainly controversies about Sino-Tibetan and Austronesian. Rereading this article, the picture for Nilo-Saharan does not seem as bleak as the impression you are giving here. It quotes a number of linguists who support it as genetic and does not actually name anyone who opposes it.
On genetic relation (divergence) vs. sprachbund (convergence) - the very fact that it is so difficult to tell if Altaic is one or the other should tell you something. --JWB (talk) 00:06, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
I have no idea what Dravidian is hardly a large language group means. The number of languages doesn't really add anything to the issue. Most of the "controversies" with Sino-Tibetan are how the various branches relate to each other. Austronesian is the same, most of the issues have to do with how the branches relate as well as a few languages which may be non-Austronesian but heavily influenced by non-Austronesian languages on New Guinea. I am aware of the Sprachbund argument for "Altaic" although I am not sure what the "something" is supposed to tell me. While very few linguists question the validity of Sino-Tibetan or Austronesian, the same can not be said of Nilo-Saharan. Azalea pomp (talk) 00:32, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Sino-Tibetan languages lists well-known linguists who doubt it is a genetic group. Nilo-Saharan languages doesn't even do that; perhaps you could add some and their arguments? Also, in China itself Sino-Tibetan still includes Tai.
Dravidian languages says "Dravidian is a close-knit family. The languages are much more closely related than, say, the Indo-European languages." It also estimates that Proto-Dravidian split up only around 500 BC. --JWB (talk) 01:47, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
I didn't realize China decided on genetic classifications for languages. I don't think I have ever heard of geographic regions having one classification versus another. The general consensus is that Tai-Kadai is not Sino-Tibetan. As well, I am not sure if there are any well-known linguists (except Chomsky) or what their fame has to do with their arguments. Regardless of the time depth of certain language families, Dravidian and Indo-European are valid language families. Azalea pomp (talk) 02:32, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
If you took the hint to actually read the article, you would have realized it. "However, in the Chinese scholarly world, Kradai (actually Zhuang-Dong or Kam-Tai, which excludes i.a. the Kra languages) and Hmong-Mien are still commonly included in the Sino-Tibetan family.[2]" Please, don't make me keep spoon-feeding you.
The original statement you took issue with was about "large-scale families" which Dravidian is clearly not. --JWB (talk) 05:36, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I am well of aware of the "Chinese linguists'" (some of them) claim. I was just having fun with your less than precise wording of "in China". I think better than putting "controversial" would be "proposed" in parentheses instead for Nilo-Saharan. Perhaps a better name for this page would Nilo-Saharan Proposal. In their infobox the "Khoisan" languages have this: Traditionally considered Khoisan, it may be one of the world's primary language families. Azalea pomp (talk) 06:00, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
"Nilo-Saharan Proposal" gets exactly two Google hits, one from Wikipedia, but both the same sentence, referring to the proposal to put Gumuz in Nilo-Saharan. As for the Khoisan sentence, the first part is tautological, and what does "one of the world's primary language families" mean? --JWB (talk) 06:40, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
I agree the "primary" word needs to be removed as it does beg the question. I take it to mean a family versus a sub-branch though. Azalea pomp (talk) 07:01, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
If I may put in my two cents: So far Azalea pomp is the one guilty of original research in this discussion, because in spite of all his claims that NS is controversial, all I can see so far are weasel words to support this: "some linguists" "many scholars" "for sure not agreed upon". The article so far lists a good number of linguists who support the existence of NS, like Greenberg, Bender, Ehret, Blench, and others, but so far not a single source rejecting NS. Please, Azalea, give us a few good references supporting your claim that NS indeed is as controversial as you make it appear to be. Then we can continue the discussion. As an incentive to do so I will intersperse a few tags into the text where I think they are appropriate according to Wikipedia:Verifiability. Landroving Linguist (talk) 11:57, 2 September 2009 (UTC)


How come Ateso is not included in the list of major languages?
It was spoken by over a million people in Uganda and Kenya in the early 1990's. Marxolang (talk) 16:42, 14 January 2010 (UTC)


I wouldn't have thought that unlinking excessive linkings of the word "Nile" was really controversial - presumably one link to "Nile" is enough. Unfortunately, Taivo, who seems to have been annoyed by some of my other edits, undid all my edits as a result, including restoring those unnecessary multiple linkings of "Nile." I would simply ask Taivo to consider edits on a case by case basis. If you don't agree with Ruhlen or want to use him as a source, that's one thing, but don't undo routine or uncontroversial changes I make simply because of that. (talk) 20:28, 9 May 2011 (UTC)


Taivo reverted all my edits because I used a book by Merritt Ruhlen as a source. His comment was, "'On the origin of language' is a mass-market popular work, not a scholarly work. Ruhlen's views do not reflect mainstream linguistic views."

As it happens, "On the Origin of Language" is used as a source in a number of articles, including, for instance, the one on Indo-Pacific languages. If Taivo doesn't have a problem with its use there, I can't see what valid objection he could have to its use at this article. One doesn't necessarily have to agree with Ruhlen's views, but his book is a perfectly good source to use in describing the views of Greenberg or other proponents of linguistic macrofamilies. Let's not forget that Wikipedia is aimed primarily at a popular audience - this means that Ruhlen's book, precisely because it is popular, is a useful source to use in describing the views of people on one side of the debate. (talk) 20:25, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

And as for the content of my edits (sourced to Ruhlen), this, despite what Taivo seemed to be suggesting, wasn't especially controversial. If you look carefully, you will see that many of my changes were relatively minor. One simply altered "Internally, Nilo-Saharan is quite diverse" to "Internally, Nilo-Saharan is very diverse"; another changed, "However, such proposals are treated with reserve by most historical linguists" to "Ruhlen comments that Gregersen's proposal, 'has so far not won wide acceptance within the linguistic community.'" In these cases, Ruhlen's views as described in his book are much the same as what was already in the article, and actually support it.

Admittedly, there were two cases where I used Ruhlen to support statements that were perhaps slightly more controversial, but in each of those cases, what Ruhlen said was presented specifically as his view, not as unvarnished fact. The first example is, "Ruhlen comments that, 'No one who examines the evidence can fail to perceive that Nilo-Saharan is vastly more heterogeneous than Indo-European, and hence no doubt far more ancient...'" What specific problem do you have with that, Taivo? Is Ruhlen right that Nilo-Saharan is "vastly more heterogeneous than Indo-European" or is he wrong? If Ruhlen has things wrong and Nilo-Saharan isn't vastly more heterogeneous than Indo-European, I'd be interested to hear that, but again, I wouldn't have thought it was so controversial, or that there was some massive problem with mentioning Ruhlen's view, qualified as his view. The same remarks apply to Ruhlen's comment (about the proposed Kongo-Saharan family) that "such a grouping is supported by the distribution of genes in Africa and may well be correct." Again, that's his opinion, presented as his opinion, which wouldn't seem to be a problem. Ruhlen is a well known proponent of linguistic macrofamilies, and I hardly think that there is a problem with simply mentioning his views, unless you're going to take the position that his opinions and those of people like him just shouldn't be mentioned at all, something I see no justification for. (talk) 20:51, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

First, Ruhlen is about the worst source you can use for historical linguistic sourcing. I'll add a proper source for the heterogenous comment. Second, the DNA argument is garbage in a linguistics article. DNA has nothing to do with historical reconstruction or with establishing genetic linguistic relationships. --Taivo (talk) 07:23, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Ruhlen's book is a perfectly good source for Ruhlen's views. I can't see any reason why Ruhlen's view shouldn't be mentioned here - if he's OK for Nostratic languages, he should be OK here too. He worked with Greenberg, and Greenberg came up with this proposal, so I'd have thought mentioning him is completely appropriate. I don't much care if the heterogeneous part is sourced to Ruhlen, or somebody else - by all means, use a different source if you wish. (talk) 07:32, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Your comment on DNA is one-sided. Obviously it doesn't prove anything about linguistic relationships - but because there is an incidental relation between biological factors and language, it may in some cases help to suggest which connections are most likely. I don't think we want to be excluding all mention of issues like this because of personal opinions. (talk) 07:37, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
DNA is useless when dealing with linguistic relationships, which this article is about. It is only useful when dealing with a language family that is uncontroversially accepted as a language family, as is Afro-asiatic. It is worthless when trying to establish linguistic relationships within a family that most linguists don't accept as a valid family or as a well-demonstrated family. For example, the Cavalli-Sforza study, which Greenberg and Ruhlen both treat as the Holy Grail of proof, clearly demonstrates that the Pygmies of Africa are radically different genetically than any other African group, yet linguistically they speak Niger-Congo languages just like all their genetically-different neighbors. Greenberg and Ruhlen don't bother to mention all the mismatches between the genetic evidence and valid linguistic groupings. They tend to only mention genetics when they "match" their more controversial groupings. --Taivo (talk) 07:42, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
DNA is worthless in the sense that it does not and cannot prove anything about language, something Ruhlen and the others are perfectly well aware of and elaborately point out, lest anyone think them unaware of it. It's not worthless in the sense that it can sometimes be used to broadly suggest what the most likely linguistic relationships may have been - a thing quite different from "proof." In any case, rather than simply fighting this out with me, it would be better to ask other editors their opinions. (talk) 08:06, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
DNA is of no more value in "broadly suggesting" linguistic relationships than geographic proximity is. --Taivo (talk) 13:09, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps this discussion would benefit from having more than two participants? (talk) 22:14, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

Personally, I wouldn't use Ruhlen as a ref for either NS or Nostratic. He hasn't worked on them, not to any significant extent, and both have more notable (and more reliable) proponents. He may be a good ref for IP, because AFAIK no-one but Ruhlen gives that proposal any credence at all, but as long as there's someone credible discussing a family, I don't see how bringing Ruhlen into the discussion is beneficial. It's rather like bringing up Greenbeng in New Guinea or the New World: no-one working in those areas has benefited from Greenberg's suggestions, so it's a matter of WP:weight. — kwami (talk) 00:05, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Ruhlen is cited multiple times in the Nostratic languages article, and apparently no one is rushing to remove those references - there seems to be agreement that they're appropriate. As for citing Ruhlen here, he was already cited before I started editing, in the sentence "Roughly 11 million people spoke Nilo-Saharan languages as of 1987, according to Merritt Ruhlen's estimate." If you and Taivo are really going to insist that Ruhlen's not an acceptable source, you will have to remove that one too. But anyway, thanks for your response. (talk) 00:25, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
Anyone can go to Ethnologue and tally up the number of speakers, so it's not like anyone's going to challenge a Ruhlen citation for that. What's contentious are the classifications he proposes. As for Nostratic, that's at the fringes of respectable cladistics, so perhaps people aren't as rigorous there, while NS is broadly accepted, or at least used as the basis for discussion.
I did add a history section, which I took largely from Ruhlen. Interesting to see what Greenberg contributed: basically, he expanded Chari-Nile to Nilo-Saharan. Half of those six additions seem to be largely accepted, if provisionally, half meet with stronger reservations.
Did Greenberg propose any other family that has met with acceptance? — kwami (talk) 01:04, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
I give up. If neither you nor Taivo wants to mention Ruhlen here, I'm happy to remove all mention of him. I've removed Ruhlen's estimate of the number of Nilo-Saharan speakers as of 1987 too, not because I see him as an unacceptable source, but because there are a couple of more recent estimates in the article, making an estimate of the number in 1987 irrelevant. Plus, it was out of place; you can't put it next to a statement about Nilo-Saharan's grammatical characteristics, as there's no connection. (talk) 02:05, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Where does the figure of 48M come from? I doubt the data is that precise. I get 38–39M from Ethnologue, but that includes some pretty dated figures (including one from 1956! but for only 6,600 at the time). 3.24M Kanuri is from 1985, and the 4.4M Dholuo is undated; we list 8.5M. — kwami (talk) 02:36, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

You'd have to ask whoever added that figure - which certainly wasn't me. But you look like you're handling things pretty well. (talk) 05:19, 11 May 2011 (UTC)


The tripartite system, said to occur widely, seems not to occur in Luo. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:33, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

And the Indo-European case and gender systems do not occur in English. We're comparing families, not languages. — kwami (talk) 14:51, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
The Indo-European case and gender systems do occur partly in English. The article gives the impression that there is only one exception to the rule. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:12, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
There is only one exception to the rule. Luo is not an exception, as it's not one of the families claimed to make up NS. — kwami (talk) 15:15, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
Reworded to make it more obvious we're discussing evidence for the various families being related as NS. — kwami (talk) 15:27, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

Distribution of Nilo-Saharan subfamilies in Sudan and in South Sudan[edit]

According to the color map in this article, the Berta are entirely or for practical purposes entirely in Ethiopia. But according to the United Nations (, the right bank of the White Nile extension of South Sudan territory is inhabited by Bertas, too. That's like 150 miles from Ethiopia. So it is likely (not certain) that the Bertas also occupy the intervening territory of Sudan, i.e., Blue Nile state. If numbers of Berta in Sudan are insignificant, that would still leave seven branches being represented in Sudan. Dale Chock (talk) 09:57, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

In any case I've reworded to say 'in and around Sudan'. — kwami (talk) 10:27, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
Follow the links in the articles. Most are in Ethiopia, but up to and across the border into Blue Nile state. Ethn. has 85% Ethiopia, 15% Sudan. — kwami (talk) 10:32, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
Just saw. Lavergne, Marc. 1989. Le Soudan contemporain. p. 88. Copying a map from a 1984 world encyclopedia, shows that the Berta occupy the interior of Blue Nile province. The thing is that even with the loss of South Sudan, Sudan has not lost any first order divisions of Nilo-Saharan. But another point: why mention that Sudan has many of those divisions? Kunama reports 18,000 Kunama speakers in Sudan. So we should report there are nine Nilo-Saharan divisions spoken in Sudan. Dale Chock (talk) 12:02, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
I count ten, if you include Kadu. And Kuliak and Shabo are only a few miles from S Sudan. That leaves only Songhai out of the picture. — kwami (talk) 13:47, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

'Wastebasket' phylum[edit]

Til is edit warring over this, and finally tagged it with "by whom" despite the fact that I pointed out that it's referenced. The relevant quote on p 141 is:

"Nilo-Saharan is disputed, and many are not convinced of the proposed genetic relationships. It is generally seen as Greenberg's wastebasket phylum, into which he placed all the otherwise unaffiliated languages of Africa."

Til seems to object to this because it's about African languages, as if that had anything to do with it, but the location is irrelevant. Allegedly similar proposals elsewhere are called the same thing—Dene-Caucasian comes to mind. Til is apparently unwilling to discuss this, as he deleted my comments from his talk page without responding to them. So, are there any linguistic refs that the label is inaccurate or otherwise inappropriate? — kwami (talk) 20:16, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

This is the appropriate place to discuss it, but there should be nothing to discuss now, because I looked and found some sources that say the phylum has been referred to as "Greenberg's wastebasket" with quotes around the entire phrase. So I tweaked it slightly to make it a little clearer to non-linguist readers that it is Greenberg who is being disparaged more than the languages in the "wastebasket" (which might imply that any languages therein are "trash") Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 20:22, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
That works. (I wasn't accommodating illiteracy in our readers.) I changed the wording slightly to better reflect our source. — kwami (talk) 20:30, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
BTW, when you make a change that's rejected – especially when you're challenging referenced material – it's generally up to you to take it to talk for discussion before reverting. See WP:BOLD. — kwami (talk) 20:31, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
You should consider leaving your prejudices at the door. — Lfdder (talk) 20:37, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
I found exactly 8 book sources that use the term "wastebasket" in conjunction with "Nilo-Saharan". All of them do so in the phrase "Greenberg's wastebasket", and most of them put quotes around the name. If some linguists want to use such terminology, I have no problem with the article explaining that, but this could be seen as insulting from the African POV. For the sake of accuracy, most sources neutrally put the full phrase "Greenberg's wastebasket" in quotes, and we should certainly do the same. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 20:47, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
Yawn. — Lfdder (talk) 21:34, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
NOTE: This "Yawn" comment does not belong on this page and is entirely unconstructive, having nothing whatsoever to do with improving the article, and only it demonstratates the editor's callousness toward other editors, but Lfdder keeps replacing it. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 21:41, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
NOTE: This "Yawn" comment does belong to here. It is informative for me as a reference to yet another Til’s pettifogging, I like it and hence, it is constructive. Incnis Mrsi (talk) 10:03, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
YOU like it, "and hence it is constructive"? This has zilch to do with Nilo-Saharan languages, the intended purpose of this page being to improve that article. You are resorting to all the things that argument-losers typically resort to when they cannot come up with any coherent response to my argument on the topic of improving the article - but yet they wish to keep on arguing anyway. And admins are already discussing what is happening to this page, so anyone else want to jump in with their foot in their mouth? Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 13:52, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
Remember that WP:Wikipedia is not censored. You will never change this. If the sources say it is a “waste basket”, then the article will call it so, and all you can do is to censor himself to articles where no “insulting” reliable sources can be found. Incnis Mrsi (talk) 14:10, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
You are a new editor to this topic, welcome. The sources do indeed say it is known to linguists as "Greenberg's wastebasket", I have acknowledged it and tweaked it accordingly, and nobody apparently has any objections to the wording as it stands now, just vague, undefined grousing in general. This has been a news flash update. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 14:18, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

Nilo-Saharan has clearly been used a big wastebasket phylum, but there are some similarities among some of the branches which can't be ignored either. Nilo-Saharan, in reduced scope, looks like a Sprachbund to me. I doubt many of the primary branches in there are related to each other. But this is what we have for now. Unless someone goes into the laborious task of compiling, reconstructing, and comparing lexical data for Nilo-Saharan branches, we're going to have to put up with "Nilo-Saharan (?)" on Wikipedia. — Stevey7788 (talk) 15:03, 25 March 2019 (UTC)

Tree by Starostin[edit]

Another lexicostatistic analysis from a forthcoming paper by George Starostin; posted here for the time being, with his comments on the status of various branches.

("currently unexplorable
but faintly suggested")
("deep level")



Eastern Sudanic

("deep level")

Central Sudanic





Koman-Gumuz ("probable"), Kuliak, Saharan, Songhay and Shabo are rejected from inclusion (essentially amounting to a rejection of a Nilo-Saharan). A closing note suggest that he sees a hypothesis about the two Sudanic macro-groups being related to Niger-Congo as more promising. --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 01:20, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

And just how reliable are Starostin's classifications? I would assume like Ilia Peiros' classifications of Southeast Asian languages, which have many glaring mistakes. — Stevey7788 (talk) 15:17, 25 March 2019 (UTC)
Admitted by him to be tentative due to being based on a single level of language, so likely to be adjusted in various directions later after more work. If you're concerned about his basic data itself though, reviewing that is beyond our job. --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 18:05, 29 March 2019 (UTC)

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MacySinrich The phonology is very confusing. What the heck is r2, a palatal liquid should be j, but it is classified as a semivowel. If the r is supposed to be a trill, what is r2, and why is it classified under palatal?

The table of reconstructed phonemes is quoting Bender (2000), so you'll have to find a copy of that to understand his use of symbols. Landroving Linguist (talk) 19:49, 23 March 2020 (UTC)


How many Wikipedia in this languages?--Kaiyr (talk) 11:34, 22 April 2020 (UTC)