On the Problem of the Proto-Mande Homeland
Valentin Vydrin (Center for African Linguistics, Languages and Cultures (LLACAN) (Paris), vydrine@gmail.com)
Journal of Language Relationship, № 1, 2009 - p.107-142
When dealing with the internal classification of the Mande language family (Niger-Congo phylum), short-range groups can be singled out easily; the main problem concerns mid-range stages of the internal classification. The present article suggests a new version of such a classification. For the first time, it is based on the standard Swadesh 100-word list. Lexicostatistical data are then confronted with the evidence of paleoclimatology and archaeology. I conclude that speakers of Proto-Mande most probably lived around the second half of the 4th millennium  in Southern Sahara, somewhere between 3° and 12° Western longitude, to the North of the 16° or even 18° latitude. This hypothesis is supported through analysis of the cultural vocabulary that can presumably be reconstructed for the Proto-Mande language.
Keywords: Niger-Congo languages, comparative lexicology