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click on the map to go to ethnologue.com and find details about the different language groups of Northern Cameroon


            The Northern Cameroon Language and Genetics Project (NCLGP) is a collaborative effort bringing together researchers from the Department of Linguistics and the Institute for Behavioral Genetics (IBG) on the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado and the Institute de Recherche Agricole pour le Développement (Maroua, Cameroon). The overall aim of the NCLGP is to explore the correlation between related languages and the genetic relationships of the Northern Cameroonian populations that speak them. In particular, the NCLGP is interested in examining whether individuals from the same language family or the same branch of a given family exhibit a closer genetic relationship than individuals belonging to different language groups or subgroups.

            To date, our efforts have focused on six linguistic populations: four belonging to the Central branch of the Chadic family (Hdi, Mafa, Mina, and Gidar); one belonging to the Masa branch of the Chadic (Peve); and one belonging to the Niger-Congo family (Mambay). Uniquely, all of these languages are spoken within a relatively confined area in Northern Cameroon but remain distinct from one another. This maximization of linguistic distance and geographical proximity is expected to maximize the detection of common population genetic structure between groups. On-going analyses have utilized a large collection of short-tandem-repeat (STR) loci and have recently begun to include Y-chromosome haplotypes. Future plans include re-sampling from additional language groups in Northern Cameroon and the characterization of informative markers on the X-Chromosome.

           The NCLGP is interested in collaborating with researchers who currently have projects examining the relationship between language group membership and genetic relationships. If interested in exploring the different possibilities, please contact either Dr. Zygmunt Frajzyngier or Dr. Andrew Smolen.