Central Delta languages: An overview

Ethelbert Emmanuel Kari


This paper presents an overview of the phonology, morphology and syntax of Central Delta languages. It also provides information on the geo-linguistic, demographic and sociolinguistic situation of these languages. It notes that Central Delta languages have a 20-vowel system, which divides into two sets of 10 vowels distinguished by pharyngeal size. The consonant systems of these languages range between 22 and 27, showing alternation between some pairs of consonants. Central Delta languages are noted to be rich in nominal and verbal morphologies, showing evidence of prefixal noun classification and morphological marking of nominal and verbal categories. The pronominal systems of these languages make a three-way number-person-case distinction with some of them formally distinguishing between inclusive and exclusive in their first-person plural forms. Common syntactic features observed in these languages include subject–object–verb basic word order and serial verb constructions. The paper highlights the fact that mother-tongue speakers of Central Delta languages also speak one or more other languages and that the daily exposure of Central Delta languages and their speakers to more powerful languages around them makes them endangered. Furthermore, the paper recommends that a survey be undertaken to determine the level of endangerment of Central Delta languages.


Nigeria, Central Delta languages, nominal and verbal systems, morphology, language endangerment

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5774/47-0-213


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