, Volume 93, Issue 4, pp 189–194 | Cite as

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

  • Kateřina Rexová
  • Yvonne Bastin
  • Daniel Frynta
Short Communication


The phylogeny of the Bantu languages is reconstructed by application of the cladistic methodology to the combined lexical and grammatical data (87 languages, 144 characters). A maximum parsimony tree and Bayesian analysis supported some previously recognized clades, e.g., that of eastern and southern Bantu languages. Moreover, the results revealed that Bantu languages south and east of the equatorial forest are probably monophyletic. It suggests an unorthodox scenario of Bantu expansion including (after initial radiation in their homelands and neighboring territories) just a single passage through rainforest areas followed by a subsequent divergence into major clades. The likely localization of this divergence is in the area west of the Great Lakes. It conforms to the view that demographic expansion and dispersal throughout the dry-forests and savanna regions of subequatorial Africa was associated with the acquisition of new technologies (iron metallurgy and grain cultivation).


Angola Maximum Parsimony Tree Bantu Language Savanna Region Equatorial Forest 
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Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kateřina Rexová
    • 1
  • Yvonne Bastin
    • 2
  • Daniel Frynta
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and History of SciencesCharles UniversityPraha 2Czech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Ethnomusicology and LinguisticsMusée Royal de l’Afrique CentraleTervurenBelgium
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyCharles UniversityPraha 2Czech Republic

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