Gur languages

The Gur languages ​​or voltaic languages ​​form a sub- unit of the North Volta -Congo branch of the Niger - Congo languages ​​.

The approximately 75 - Gur languages ​​are spoken in a contiguous territory that extends from the south-east of Mali over the northern Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo and Benin to Burkina Faso and Nigeria, totaling about 15 million people.


The name " Gur " was proposed in 1895 by Gottlob Krause, since some languages ​​of this group the first syllable Gur - have (eg Gurma, Gurunsi, Gurenne ). The term " voltaic " refers to the Volta River, it is used mainly in the French literature ( langues voltaïques ).

Significant Gur

By far the most important Gur language is the Mòoré, the language of the Mossi ( with 7 million speakers, including a second language ). It is the main language of Burkina Faso and is also spoken in Mali, Togo, Benin and the Ivory Coast. Other significant Gur languages ​​with at least 500,000 speakers are Dagaari, Frafra, Dagbani, Kusaal, Gurma, Konkomba, Tem ( lingua franca in Togo), Kabiye, Lobiri and Bariba. The major languages ​​are listed in the following classification.

Classification of the Gur languages

The genetic unity of the core group ' Central Gur "has long been recognized that classification of individual languages ​​outside of this core remains unresolved. Earlier also the Dogon and Senufo languages ​​have been included among the Gur language (eg, Bendor - Samuel 1971, De Wolf 1981), Dogon is today rather than isolated primary branch of the Niger - Congo, Senufo as a parallel branch of the Gur within the North Volta - Congo viewed. The genetic closeness of the Gur languages ​​for the Kwa - and Benue - Congo languages ​​gave rise to introduce the unit Volta - Congo within the Niger - Congo.

  • Gur Central Gur north Oti - Volta East: Ditammari (120 thousand)
  • West Northwest: Moore ( 7 million), Dagaari ( 1.1 million), Frafra (550 thousand), Birifor (200 thousand), Wali (100 thousand)
  • Southeast: Dagbani (500 thousand), Mampruli (230 thousand), Kusaal (500 thousand)
  • Gurunsi: Tem (. 300 thousand, with Zweitspr 1.2 million), Kabiye (700 thousand), Lama (180 thousand), Lukpa (125 thousand); Kasem (200 thousand), Lyele (250 thousand), Nuni (220 thousand); Sisaala (170 thousand)
  • Kirma - Tyurama: Tschurama
  • Lobi Dyan: Lobiri ( Miwa ) (450 thousand)
  • Gan - Dogose
  • Khe - Dogoso

The following smaller individual languages ​​are attributed with reservation also the Gur: Teen Loma, Tiefo, Tusia, Viemo, Wara - Natioro.

Linguistic characteristics

Almost all of Gur languages ​​have a noun class system, most show concordance. On average, there are 11 noun classes, which are marked by suffixes, some languages ​​(eg temperature ) do not have class prefix for frequently occurring nouns. The word order of sentences is SVO, usually postpositions are used, only "with" is in many Gur a preposition. Genitive attributes and possessive pronouns precede the nouns they modify, adjective attributes, demonstratives and numerals follow their noun, where there is not always concordance. Some adjectives have independent class prefix for singular and plural, are not in concordance with the noun. Most Gur languages ​​are tonal languages ​​with two to three pitches, the Bariba even has 6 differentiated meaning relevant tone variants. An example of a Gur language without meaning-differentiating pitch is Koromfe.