Kanuri language

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Kanuri language
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million| date = 1998-2015| ref = e21| familycolor = Nilo-SaharanSaharan languages>Saharan| fam3 = Western Saharan| iso1 = kr| iso2 = kau| iso3 = kau| lc1 = knc| ld1 = Central Kanuri| lc2 = kby| ld2 = Manga Kanuri| lc3 = krt| ld3 = Tumari Kanuri| lc4 = bms| ld4 = Bilma Kanuri| lc5 = kblKanembu language>Kanembu| lingua = 02-AAA-a (+Kanembu 02-AAA-b)| glotto = kanu1279| glottorefname = Kanuri-Kanembu| map = Kanuri languages map 001.png| mapcaption = Map of the majority usage of the five major languages of the Kanuri language group.
  • BMS Kanuri, Bilma
  • KNC Kanuri, Central
  • KBY Kanuri, Manga
  • KRT Kanuri, Tumari
  • KBL Kanembu
}}Kanuri ({{IPAc-en|k|ə|ˈ|n|uː|r|i}}Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh) is a dialect continuum spoken by some four million people, as of 1987, in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, as well as small minorities in southern Libya and by a diaspora in Sudan.


At the turn of the 21st century, its two main dialects, Manga Kanuri and Yerwa Kanuri (also called Beriberi, which its speakers consider to be pejorative), were spoken by 9,700,000 people in Central Africa.WEB,weblink Kanuri language, Encyclopedia Britannica, It belongs to the Western Saharan subphylum of Nilo-Saharan. Kanuri is the language associated with the Kanem and Bornu empires which dominated the Lake Chad region for a thousand years.The basic word order of Kanuri sentences is subject–object–verb. It is typologically unusual in simultaneously having postpositions and post-nominal modifiers – for example, "Bintu's pot" would be expressed as nje Bintu-be, "pot Bintu-of".Kanuri has three tones: high, low, and falling. It has an extensive system of consonantal lenition; for example, sa- "they" + -buma "have eaten" → za-wuna "they have eaten".Traditionally a local lingua franca, its usage has declined in recent decades. Most first-language speakers speak Hausa or Arabic as a second language.

Geographic distribution

Kanuri is spoken mainly in lowlands of the Chad Basin, with speakers in Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria Sudan and Libya.


Ethnologue divides Kanuri into the following languages, while many linguists (e.g. Cyffer 1998) regard them as dialects of a single language. The first three are spoken by ethnic Kanuri and thought by them as dialects of their language. The variety attested in 17th century Qur'anic glosses is known as Old Kanembu. In the context of religious recitation and commentaries, a heavily archaizing descendant of this is still used, called Tarjumo.

Written Kanuri

Kanuri has been written using the Ajami Arabic script, mainly in religious or court contexts, for at least four hundred {{webarchive|url= |date=2006-11-08 }}. More recently, it is also sometimes written in a modified Latin script. The Gospel of John published in 1965 was produced in Roman and Arabic script.


A standardized romanized orthography (known as the Standard Kanuri Orthography in Nigeria) was developed by the Kanuri Research Unit and the Kanuri Language Board. Its elaboration, based on the dialect of Maiduguri, was carried out by the Orthography Committee of the Kanuri Language Board, under the Chairmanship of Abba Sadiq, Waziri of Borno. It was officially approved by the Kanuri Language Board in Maiduguri, Nigeria, in 1975.Dictionary of the Kanuri language. Norbert Cyffer, John P. Hutchison, 1990. {{ISBN|90-6765-412-4}}]Letters used :a b c d e ǝ f g h i j k l m n ny o p r ɍ s sh t u w y z.According to alphabet kanuri — arrété 213-99 de la République du Niger (Chantal Enguehard – Université de Nantes) the letter schwa used in Kanuri is encoded in Unicode with U+01DD instead of U+0259, and its uppercase is Ǝ U+018E instead of Ə U+018F.

Pronouns{| cellspacing"0" cellpadding"5" border"1" style"text-align: center" class"wikitable"

! !Singular!Plural wú, ú >| àndí ní >| nàndí, nàyí tí >| tàndí, tàyí weblink

See also

  • (Wiktionary:Appendix:Kanuri word list|Kanuri word list) (Wiktionary)


  • Norbert Cyffer & John P. Hutchison (eds.) Dictionary of the Kanuri Language (Publications in African languages and linguistics, 13). Foris Publications 1990. {{ISBN|90-6765-412-4}}.
  • Norbert Cyffer, We Learn Kanuri (book and 2 audio cassettes), {{ISBN|3-927620-01-7}}, Rüdiger Köppe Verlag: Köln 1993.
  • Norbert Cyffer, English-Kanuri Dictionary, {{ISBN|3-927620-44-0}}, Rüdiger Köppe Verlag: Köln 1994.
  • Norbert Cyffer, A Sketch of Kanuri. Rüdiger Köppe Verlag: Köln 1998.
  • Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: kau




  • Barth, Heinrich 1854. Schreiben an Prof. Lepsius uber die Beziehung der Kanori- und Teda-Sprachen. Zeitschrift für Erdkunde, 2: 372-74, 384-87.
  • Bulakarima, S. Umara 1997. Survey of Kanuri dialects. in Advances in Kanuri Scholarship, ed. N. Cyffer and T. Geider. Pp. 67–75. Cologne: Rudiger Koppe.
  • Chonai, Hassan 1998. Gruppa teda-kanuri (centraľnosaxarskaja sem’ja jazykov) i ee genetičeskie vzaimootnoÅ¡enija (Ä—timologičeskij i fonologičeskij aspekt). Moskva: PhD. Dissertation (Rossijskij gosudarstvennyj gumanitarnyj universitet).
  • Hutchison, John P. 1981. The Kanuri Language. A Reference Grammar. Madison: University of Wisconsin.
  • Koelle, Sigismund Wilhelm 1854. Grammar of the Bornu or Kanuri Language. London: Church Missionary Society.
  • Lange, Dierk 1972. Un vocabulaire kanuri de la fin du XVIIe siècle. Cahiers d'Études africaines, 12(46): 277-290.
  • Lukas, Johannes 1937. A Study of the Kanuri Language. Grammar and Vocabulary. London: Oxford University Press.

External links

{{Incubator|code=kr}} {{Saharan languages}}{{Authority control}}

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