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Themes and actions

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Language, Culture, and Genes in Bantu: a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the Bantu-speaking populations of Africa

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Scientific framework and objectives

Since the early 80s, a series of scientific studies, initiated in particular by Luca Cavalli-Sforza, have unveiled rather surprising parallels between genetic and linguistic trees (classifications). The objective of the present project is to check the relevance as well as the extent of such parallels for a well-defined case: the Bantu expansion.


The ultimate goal of this multidisciplinary project is to elaborate a solidly based theory of the origin and expansion of Bantu and the Bantu-speaking populations. Several solid historical inferences have been made on the basis of recent linguistic studies, about the origin and gradual geographical expansion of this group, as well as its contacts with non Bantu speakers in the course of time. For three geographically strategic zones (Gabon, Tanzania, Angola), existing linguistically based classifications will be compared with genetic classifications, which are in the process of being constructed, and several linguistically based hypotheses will be tested. The combination of linguistics and population genetics will certainly reveal similarities and differences (or both) between the two approaches. The results will sub-sequently be compared with those obtained in the fields of cultural anthropology, archaeology and history.

  Financial support
  • OMLL

  • OHLL


  • Luca, F., Van der Veen, L., Andre, L., Mouguiama-Daouda, P., Sica, L., Hombert, J.M., Quintana-Murci, L., 2003, "MtDNA variation in Central Africa: a micro-evolutionary study in Bantu-speaking populations from Gabon.", proc. of 2nd DNA Polymorphisms in Human Population International Symposium., Paris, Décembre 2003
  • Meunier, J.C., 2006, "Lolke Van der Veen, Linguiste. Sauveur de langue.", Presse, Expressions. Les nouvelles de Vénissieux. (Journal bi-mensuel.), n° 378, Vénissieux, 30 août 2006
  • Mouguiama-Daouda, P., Van der Veen, L., 2005, "B10-B30 : conglomérat phologénétique ou produit d'une hybridation", in Studies in African Comparative Linguistics, with special focus on Bantu and Mande, 169/1, Bostoen, K., Maniacky, J. (eds), Tervuren, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Sciences Humaines
  • Mouguiama-Daouda, P., 2005, "Phonological Irregularities, Reconstruction and Cultural Vocabulary. The names of fish in the Bantu languages of the North-West (Gabon)", Diachronica, 22:1, pp. 50-107
  • Mouguiama-Daouda, P., 2005, "Contribution de la linguistique à l'histoire des peuples du Gabon. La méthode comparative et son application au bantu.", Paris, CNRS Edition, Sciences du langage
  • Van der Veen, L., Hombert, J.M., 2001, "On the origin and diffusion of Bantu: a multidisciplinary approach", proc. of 32nd Annual Conference on African Languages, Berkeley, Etats-unis, Mars, 2001
  • Van der Veen, L., 2001, "Contribution à l'étude des langues bantoues et des peuples bantouophones : approche linguistique, approche génétique", Revue Gabonaise des Sciences du Langage, 2:0, pp. 79-94
  • Van der Veen, L., 1988, "Caractéristiques principales du groupe B 30 (Gabon)", Pholia, 3, pp. 271-290
  • Van der Veen, L., 1989, "Doubles réflexes dans quelques langues du groupe Okani (Gabon)", Pholia, 4, pp. 229-243
  • Van der Veen, L., 2006, "Gabon: Language Situation", in Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, Brown, K. (eds), 2nd, Oxford, Elsevier, pp. 708-715

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