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African Language Family Groups

Map of African Language Family Groups

African Languages fall into four basic families following ancient migratory patterns of influence. In the north, following the Saharan routes of trade and travel are the Afro-Asiatic Linguistic groups. Mid-Saharan and extending southward into North Central Africa are the Nilo-Saharan languages. From Western Africa (south of the Sahara) to Southeast Africa is the Niger-Kordofanian family of languages. And finally, in Southwest Africa are the Khoisan languages.


  • Arabic
  • Kushite
  • Amaharic
  • Afro-Asian
  • Berber


  • Chadian
  • Eastern Sudanic
  • Eastern Adamawa
  • Songhay


  • Mande
  • Voltic
  • Kwa
  • Bantu-Congo


  • San
  • Khoi

Western Atlantic and Malagasy,

seem to be linguistically independent of other African languages.


The New Atlas of African History
G.S.P. Freeman-Grenville
Basingstoke : Macmillan, 1991
ISBN 0333559002

Historical Atlas of Africa
J.F. Ade Ajayi & Michael Crowder, Gen. Eds.
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1985
ISBN 0521253535

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