Языки Африки: опыт построения лексикостатистической классификации. Том III: Нило-сахарские языки.
«Languages of Africa: an attempt at a lexicostatistical classification» has been planned as a multi-volume monograph that aims at a complete, step-by-step re-evaluation of current hypotheses on the genetic classification of most of the languages, currently or until recently spoken on the African continent. The relevance of this task goes far beyond
the current needs and issues of historical linguistics. in recent decades, significant progress has been achieved in recreating the human prehistory of Africa through important discoveries and systematizations in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, and population genetics, allowing for a thorough reassessment of earlier conceptions and beliefs on the subject. At the same time, the general «standard model» for the overall classification of Africaʼs languages, introduced by Joseph Greenberg more than half a century ago, still continues to
serve as the default scheme of reference for linguists and non-linguists alike — not so much due to any exceptional robustness, inherent in the principles and methods according to which it was originally constructed,
but rather due to a complete lack of a well-grounded alternative. Despite a plethora of new high-quality linguistic material that has been accumulated over the past fifty years, and despite the fact that Greenbergʼs methodology of «multilateral comparison» has been harshly criticized over the same period, leading more and more specialists
in the field to doubt or even completely reject most of his «macrofamily» groupings, it remains obvious that, as long as no constructive challenge is presented, Greenbergʼs «quadripartite» scheme, according to which the absolute majority of Africaʼs languages falls into one of the four macrofamilies (Khoisan, Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Kordofanian, or Afro-Asiatic), will remain in active usage — for technical and pragmatic reasons, if nothing else.
The third volume in this ongoing series, following the same analytical procedure as the previous two, completes the preliminary historical survey, lexicostatistical analysis, and re-classification (as a new work-in-progress reference model) of all the low-level language groups that had earlier been included into Greenbergʼs alleged «Nilo-Saharan»macrofamily. This task, begun in Volume 2 with the analysis of the single largest building block of Nilo-Saharan (the so-called «Eastern Sudanic» family), is now rounded out with the inclusion of all the
other potential constituents of Nilo-Saharan — the large Central Sudanic family (somewhat controversial in itself, since it consists of no less than six distinct members, genetic relations between which have not
yet been explored to common satisfaction); the smaller Saharan, Maba, and Koman families; and such «macro-languages» and language isolates as Berta, Kunama, Gumuz, Fur, and Songhay. The survey also
includes the small Krongo-Kadugli language group, spoken in the Nuba Mountains, and the small language isolate Shabo in Ethiopia, neither of which were included by Greenberg in the original Nilo-
Saharan hypothesis, but both of which came to be regarded by some subsequent researchers as potential members of the macrofamily.