Angas Languages: A Unique Branch of West Chadic
The Angas languages are a group of languages spoken by the Angas people in Plateau State, north-central Nigeria. They belong to the West Chadic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, but they have some distinctive features that set them apart from other West Chadic languages.
In this article, we will explore some of the characteristics and history of the Angas languages, as well as some of the challenges and opportunities they face in the modern world.
Characteristics of the Angas Languages
The Angas languages are classified as A.3 West Chadic languages by linguists, meaning they are closely related to Hausa, the most widely spoken Chadic language. However, the Angas languages have undergone significant changes due to contact with other languages in the region, especially the Plateau languages, which are a diverse group of languages that do not belong to any major language family.
Some of the features that make the Angas languages unique among West Chadic languages are:
- Palatalised consonants: The Angas languages have consonants that are pronounced with the tongue raised towards the hard palate, such as /tÊ/, /dÊ/, /É²/, and /Ê/. These sounds are rare or absent in other West Chadic languages.
- Implosive consonants: The Angas languages have consonants that are pronounced with a sudden inward movement of air, such as /É/ and /É/. These sounds are also uncommon in other West Chadic languages.
- Six-vowel system: The Angas languages have six vowel sounds: /i/, /É¨/, /u/, /É/, /É/, and /a/. Other West Chadic languages have more or fewer vowel sounds.
- Three tone levels: The Angas languages have three levels of pitch that can change the meaning of words: high, mid, and low. Other West Chadic languages have two or four tone levels.
- Isolating morphology: The Angas languages do not have complex word structures that indicate grammatical categories such as number, gender, case, tense, aspect, mood, etc. Instead, they use separate words or particles to express these meanings. This is a result of typological convergence with the Plateau languages, which also have isolating morphology.
History of the Angas Languages
The Angas languages are believed to have originated from a common ancestor language that was spoken by a group of people who migrated from the northeast to the Plateau region of Nigeria. This migration may have occurred around 1000 AD or earlier, according to historical and linguistic evidence.
The ancestor language then diversified into several daughter languages over time, due to geographical and social factors. The Angas languages can be divided into four main clusters: Miship (also known as Chip or Cip), Mwaghavulic (including Mwaghavul, Mupun, and Takas), Pan (including Jipal, Mernyang, Kwagallak, Kofyar, Bwol, Goram, and Jibyal), and Talic (including Tal, Pyapun, Koenoem, Goemai, and Yiwom).
The Angas languages have also been influenced by other languages in their environment, such as Hausa, Fulani, Berom, Izere, Ninzic (such as Mada), and English. Some of these influences are evident in the vocabulary and phonology of the Angas languages. For example, many words related to Islam and trade are borrowed from Hausa or Arabic. Some sounds that are common in Hausa or English are also found in some Angas languages.
Challenges and Opportunities for the Angas Languages
The Angas languages face several challenges in the modern world. One of them is the dominance of Hausa and English as lingua francas in Nigeria. Many Angas speakers use Hausa or English for communication with speakers of other languages or for education and media purposes. This may lead to language shift or loss among younger generations who may not learn or use their native language.
Another challenge is the lack