New Linguistic Evidence and ‘The Bantu Expansion’

  title={New Linguistic Evidence and ‘The Bantu Expansion’},
  author={Jan Vansina},
  journal={The Journal of African History},
  pages={173 - 195}
  • J. Vansina
  • Published 1 July 1995
  • Linguistics
  • The Journal of African History
New linguistic evidence about the classification of the Bantu languages does not support the current view that these languages spread as the result of a massive migration or ‘expansion’ by its speakers. Rather the present geographic distribution of Bantu languages is the outcome of many complex historical dynamics involving successive dispersals of individual languages over a time span of millennia and involving reversals as well as successes. This is as true for eastern and southern Africa… 

Bringing together linguistic and genetic evidence to test the Bantu expansion

Results show evidence for a demic diffusion in the genetic data, which is confirmed by the correlations between genetic and linguistic distances, and demonstrate that subsequent contact among languages/populations strongly affected the signal of the initial migration via isolation by distance.


  • K. Bostoen
  • History
    The Journal of African History
  • 2007
ABSTRACT Historical-comparative linguistics has played a key role in the reconstruction of early history in Africa. Regarding the ‘Bantu Problem’ in particular, linguistic research, particularly

A first assessment of the linguistic evidence

Popular belief has it that the Bantu Expansion was a farming/language dispersal. However, there is neither conclusive archaeological nor linguistic evidence to substantiate this hypothesis,

Cladistic analysis of Bantu languages: a new tree based on combined lexical and grammatical data

The phylogeny of the Bantu languages is reconstructed by application of the cladistic methodology to the combined lexical and grammatical data and it suggests an unorthodox scenario of BantU expansion including just a single passage through rainforest areas followed by a subsequent divergence into major clades.

Divergence and contact in Southern Bantu language and population history

In this paper we present a new, lexicon-based phylogeny of 34 Southern Bantu languages, and combine it with previous insights from linguistics, archaeology, and genetics to study the history of

The Bantu Expansion

  • K. Bostoen
  • History
    Language Dispersal, Diversification, and Contact
  • 2020
The Bantu Expansion, the foremost linguistic, cultural, and demographic event in Late Holocene Africa, has sparked a fervent interdisciplinary debate, especially regarding its driving forces. As is

Genetic variation reveals large-scale population expansion and migration during the expansion of Bantu-speaking peoples

This study re-analysed microsatellite markers typed for large number of African populations that—owing to their fast mutation rates—capture signatures of recent population history and demonstrates that west African groups rapidly expanded both in numbers and over a large geographical area, affirming the fact that the Bantu expansion was one of the most dramatic demographic events in human history.

Linguistics for the Use of African History and the Comparative Study of Bantu Pottery Vocabulary

1. Introduction Ever since African historical linguistics emerged in the 19th century, it has served a double purpose. It has not only been practiced with the aim of studying language evolution, its

Revising the Bantu tree

This work analyzes Bantu language relationships with methods deriving from DNA sequence optimization algorithms, treating basic vocabulary as sequences of sounds, and yields finer‐grained results that indicate major revisions to the BantU tree, and enables more robust inferences about the history of Banti language expansion and/or migration throughout sub‐Saharan Africa.



The Problem of the Bantu Expansion

  • R. Oliver
  • History
    The Journal of African History
  • 1966
This paper outlines four stages of the Bantu expansion: first, the initial push through the equatorial forest from the northern to the southern woodlands; second, the occupation of the southern

Genetics and history of sub‐Saharan Africa

The well-known divergence between the historical theories suggested by immunological and DNA data about the relationship between Africa and other gene pools is discussed and an alternative hypothesis issued from overall genetic variation is proposed.

Principles of historical linguistics

The major purpose of the book is to provide in up-to-date form such an understanding of the principles of historical linguistics and the related fields of comparative linguisticistics and linguistic reconstruction.

Swahili and Sabaki: A Linguistic History

The Sabaki languages form a major Bantu subgroup and are spoken by 35 million East Africans in Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and the Comoro Islands. The authors provide a

We Are What We Eat: Ancient Agriculture Between the Great Lakes

A history of food systems in Africa's Great Lakes region is presented using mostly historical linguistic sources, with help from archaeology and paleoecology. The paper moves beyond understanding the

Towards Greater Accuracy in Lexicostatistic Dating

  • M. Swadesh
  • Linguistics
    International Journal of American Linguistics
  • 1955
1 Articles bearing on lexicostatistic theory and method: WALTER W. ARNDT, Germanic Dialect Evolution in Lexico-Statistic Time Perspective, University of North Carolina Doctoral Dissertation, 1955.

Historical Linguistics: An Introduction

Preface 1. Introduction 2. The Background of Historical Linguistic Study 3. The Use of Written Records 4. Genealogical Classification 5. Typological Classification 6. Linguistic Communities 7. The

The Archaeology of Africa : Food, Metals and Towns

Africa has a vibrant past. It emerges from this book as the proud possessor of a vast and highly complicated interweaving of peoples and cultures, practising an enormous diversity of economic and