A family of language
s in West Africa
, mainly in the Atlantic
coast countries of Senegal
, The Gambia
, Sierra Leone
, and Liberia
. However, the Fulani
people (also known by various similar forms, such as Ful, Fula, Peul, and Fulfulde, partly because of complicated internal grammar in Fulani) are spread much further east, in Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad.
The more important languages in the West Atlantic group are Wolof in Senegal and The Gambia (about 2 million speakers), Diola and Serer (half a million each), Temne in Sierra Leone (half a million), Balanta in Guinea-Bissau, and Fulani all across its range (several million).
The name West Atlantic was used by Westermann in his classification of African languages in 1927, a division of his West Sudanic. In the authoritative classification by Joseph Greenberg around 1960 he retained the name West Atlantic, but in 1975 Doneux called the group simply Atlantic, and this name now seems accepted.
'West Sudanic' is no longer used: it is now considered one of the branches of the Niger-Kordofanian superfamily. The (over-precise) Ethnologue database distinguishes 65 Atlantic languages.
Typologically they are SVO, prepositional, and NG (with GN in one).