Kam (Nyingwom)

Some notes on Nyiŋɔm (aka Nyingwom, Nyiwom or Kam)

(glottocode: kamm1249)

Ulrich Kleinewillinghöfer (2015), updated (2019)

The notes and data presented here are mainly based on an interview with Afiniki D. Kam and Liatu D. Kam, both from Din Kamaajin B, Taraba State, who I met at Garba Chede in 2011. Their language Nyiŋɔm (Nyingwom), commonly known as Kam, is one of the Northern Nigerian languages documented with a vocabulary in Meek 1931. Since then, no other document on this language seems to have been published. Therefore I took the chance to elicit some information and data, on this so little known language. Part of the elicitations was conducted in Hausa.
Nyiŋɔm, Nyingwom, Nyiwom (Jakob Lesage) or Nyingwum as in Meek 1931, commonly known by outsiders as Kam, is spoken in Bali L.G.A., Taraba State, Nigeria, by (according to Jakob Lesage) possibly between 20,000 and 25,000 people. The name is probabbly a compound with the morpheme nyi  'person' as the first element  (Meek 1931:539)

According to Afiniki D. Kam and Liatu D. Kam Nyiŋɔm is spoken in the following settlements: Sarkin Dawa (70), Mayo Kam (150), Garin Hamza (700), Din Kamaajin A, B, C, D (3000), Garin Laa (300), Garin Bandari (300). In brackets are their estimates of how many Nyiŋɔm people are living in each settlement.

nyìm nyíŋɔ̀mà.     I am Nyiŋɔm / Kam.
nyàà nyíŋɔ̀mà. You are Nyiŋɔm / Kam.
nyim rimíyɛm, nyìrìm nyíŋɔ̀mà. We are Nyiŋɔm / Kam.
àbìbì nyíŋɔ̀m     Nyiŋɔm country; kasa Kam


In most classifications Kam (Nyiŋwom) is listed among the Adamawa languages as the only member of a distinct (isolated) Kam Group (cf. Greenberg 1963, Boyd 1989, Williamson & Blench 2000) with no apparent relation to any higher level Adamawa grouping. Blench (initially in 1997 and recently in 2012) presents an alternative view whereby Nyingwom (Kam) forms a (genetic) unit with Tula-Waja, and that this "Adamawa 1, 8" unit (the name refers to Greenberg's numbering of Adamawa groups) forms one of the nine distinct branches of a Gur-Adamawa(-Ubangi) continuum (Blench 2012:4). The decisive evidence constituting a genetic unit "Waja-Kam", as this alleged Adamawa branch is also named elsewhere (e.g. Wikipedia), however, has to the best of my knowledge not been published/presented as yet.

The glottolog 4.0 ( kamm1249 ) lists Kam as separate branch of North Volta Congo.

Full text and Nyiŋɔm wordlist


Addenda (2019):

Jakob Lesage has started a study of 'nyiwom'.

Further informations are found on the respective webside of AdaGram.

The glottolog 4.0 ( kamm1249 ) lists Kam as separate branch of North Volta Congo.



Blench, Roger. 2012. Niger-Congo: an alternative view. http://www.rogerblench.info/Language/Niger-Congo/General/NCgenOP.htm

Boyd, Raymond. 1989. Adamawa-Ubangi. In: Bendor-Samuel, John. (ed.) The Niger-Congo Languages. Lanham – New York – London: Summer Institute of Linguistics; 178-215.

Greenberg, Joseph H. 1963. The Languages of Africa. Den Haag: Mouton.

Lesage, Jakob. Kam. http://llacan.vjf.cnrs.fr/AdaGram/wom.html

Meek, Charles K. 1931. Tribal Studies in Northern Nigeria. 2 vols. London: Kegan Paul. The Kam; Volume II, 538-550.

Williamson, Kay & Roger Blench. 2000. Niger-Congo. In: Heine, Bernd & Derek Nurse (eds). African Languages. An Introduction. Cambridge Unversity Press; 11-42.

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