Idiatov, Dmitry & Mark L.O. Van de Velde. (2020). Nigeria as a linguistic terra incognita: The two languages of Lau. In Andrey A. Kibrik, Kseniya P. Semenova, Dmitry V. Sichinava, Sergey G. Tatevosov & Anna Yu. Urmanchieva (eds.), ВАПросы языкознания: Мегасборник наностатей [VAProsy jazykoznanija: A megacollection of nanopapers], 322–328. Moscow: Buki Vedi.



According to the existing linguistic atlases, such as Blench (2019) and Eberhard et al. (2020), the language spoken in the Nigerian town of Lau is called Laka [ISO 639-3: lak] and belongs to the Mbumic family of the Adamawa pool within the Niger-Congo macro-family. However, our survey established that the town of Lau is divided between two distinct linguistic communities who speak mutually unintelligible languages. The subsequent analysis of the data made it clear that neither of the two languages is Mbumic. One language, which can be referred to as Lau [làw],  is a variety of Shoo-Minda-Nye [bcv; shoo1247], which belongs to the Wurbo group of the Jukunoid languages. The other language, which we refer to as Kaba Laka [kābá làkà], turned out to be the only Central Sudanic language of Nigeria. More specifically, Kaba Laka belongs to the Sara-Bongo-Bagirmi branch of Central Sudanic and is a variety of the Central Saraic language Kaba [ISO 639-3: ksp; glottocode: kab1281], which is otherwise spoken more than 500 km to the southeast in the extreme southwest of Chad and across the border in the northwest of the Central African Republic.


Posted on

18 March 2020