|Geographic location:||Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad|
|Number of Languages:|
|Number of Genetic Units:||30|
|Mean Level of Endangerment:|
|Mean Documentation Status:|
There are over 500 languages spoken in the country of Nigeria alone: over 1/20 of the number of languages spoken in the whole world. Language endangerment is not as high in this hotspot as it is in many other parts of the world. The major threat to linguistic diversity here is the spread of the Bantu language family. Bantu languages have spread over much of Africa, reducing the previous levels of diversity.
One endangered language in this area is Yangkam, spoken by fewer than 100 people, all of whom are 50 years old or older. Most of the Yangkam have shifted to speaking Hausa, one of the major national languages of Nigeria. They have maintained other elements of their cultural identity, but do not consider their language an important part of the culture. The nearly complete language shift is a little puzzling because there are no nearby groups that use Hausa as a first language. Hausa gained a large foothold with the Yangkam because of the slave trade in the 19th century, which greatly disrupted Yangkam life.
Genetic Units found in Hotspot (30):
- Cen Tuum
- Central Sudanic
- Eastern Mande
- Grassfields B
- Northern Bantoid
- Southern Bantoid
- Unclassified Niger-Congo
- Unclassified (Laal, 1 other)
List of Languages:
Endangered Languages include:
- Baldemu (< 5, Chadic, spoken in Cameroon)
- Bassa-Kontagora (< 10, Kainji, spoken in Nigeria)
- Bung (3, Unclassified, spoken in Cameroon)
- Dama (50, Adamawa-Ubangi, spoken in Cameroon)
- Zangwal (< 100, Chadic, spoken in Nigeria)
Some Features of Languages in Hotspot include:
In Eleme (58,000 speakers, Nigeria), doubling part of a verb negates it: moro means 'he saw you,' while momoro means 'he didn't see you'.
Abraham, Roy Clive. 1933. The Tiv People. Lagos: The Government Printer.
Blench, Roger. 2003. Language Death in West Africa. Paper given at the Round Table on Language Endangerment, Bad Godesborg, Feburary, 2000. http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rober_blench/RBOP.htm
Brenzinger, M. 1998. Endangered Languages in Africa. Köln: Köppe.
UNESCO. Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger of Disappearing. Online at http://www.unesco.org/webworld/babel/atlas