Longuda Group – Nʋngʋra Cluster

 (Ulrich Kleinewillinghöfer revised 2014)

Longuda or Nʋngʋra dialect cluster  

a.  Longuda/Lunguda of Guyuk and Wala Lunguda
b.  Nʋngʋra(ma) of Cerii, Banjiram
c.  Longura(ma) of Thaarʋ (Koola)
d.  Nʋngʋra(ma) of Gwaanda (Nyuwar)
e.  Nʋngʋra(ma) of Deele (Jessu)

The Longuda (Nʋngʋra) people settle west of the lower Gongola mainly in and around the hills of the volcanic Longuda Plateau. They speak variants of a dialect cluster. According to Newman & Newman (1977a) and Sabe 1995 there are five distinct dialect areas relating to distinct subgroups: Guyuk (and Wala Lunguda), Cerii (of Banjiram and Gugu), Thaarʋ (Koola), Deele (Jessu), and Gwaanda (Nyuwar). Gwaanda, Cerii and Deele people call themselves Nʋngʋra(-ba). In Koola their own appellation is Longura and in Wala they use Lunguda. The suffix -ma is added when referring to the language.

There is considerable lexical and a lesser amount of phonological variation between the dialects, yet people generally claim that they are able to understand the other variants. A large degree of the lexical variation - affecting even the basic vocabulary – results from a custom followed in all (?) subgroups, whereby people avoided calling the name of a deceased in his/her former locality and in the presence of his/her relatives. Before the advent of Islam and Christianity names were generally composed from the general lexicon. Thus the need to replace lexical items recurrently arose in the various settlements.

Contrary to the orthography used/established by Newman & Newman (particularly in 1977b), as well as Hiraki 1986, and Sabe 1989, the Nʋngʋra/Longuda dialects have an ATR vowel harmony, showing different stages of reduction in the various areas.

All dialects have almost identical noun class systems. Within the noun phrase grammatical agreement (concord) is marked on dependent parts of speech.

The comparison of basic wordlists shows that the Longuda dialects share the most cognates with Baa followed by Waja, their immediate neighbours. Considering the custom described above, the relevance of these figures remain to be substantiated.

 Pronouns and Numbers

Longuda ~ Nʋngʋra wordlist (100)

Vowel Harmony


Greenberg (1963) lists Longuda as an own group (Group 10) within the Adamawa Branch.

Bennett (1983) combines Longuda and Tula-Waja as 'Tula-Longuda' and assumes that 'Tula-Longuda' constitute a unit with Ɓəna-Mboi (= Yungur) and Bikwin-Jen which he labels 'Trans-Benue'. According to his analysis 'Trans-Benue' as a whole forms a link between Adamawa and Gur, and thus ought to be separated from the remaining Adamawa and Ubangi language groups.

Williamson & Blench 2000 and the Ehnologue (all latest editions) both list Longuda as a separate language group in one of the three major branches of Adamawa. While Williamson & Blench 2000 do not offer a specific name for the branch, its identical equivalent is oddly labelled 'Waja-Jen' in the Ethnologue, although it contains the same language groups as Bennett's 'Trans-Benue'. Both classifications apparently follow on the one hand Bennett's (1983) assumption that these groups constitute a unit (as against other Adamawa groups), while on the other hand they follow Greenberg (1963) and maintain that this unit is part of Adamawa.

It should be noted that Bennett's 'Trans-Benue' hypothesis (of 1983) which forms the basis of the current Adamawa subgroup "Waja-Jen" is based on very meagre lexical data. No one else ever presented any convincing evidence showing that the lexically and morphologically very distinct groups: Bikwin-Jen, Tula-Waja, Longuda, and Ɓəna-Mboi form indeed a valid genetic unit as against other Adamawa groups like Ba (= Kwa), Yandang, Mumuye, Samba-Duru and/or Central Gur language groups (cf. Kleinewillinghöfer 1996a, 1996b, 2009/forthcoming).



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