Kanuri language

Spoken in

  • Nilo-Saharan languages Saharan African languages Western group Kanuri


Kanuri is a regional lingua franca of the Chad Basin in Cameroon, northeastern Nigeria, eastern Niger and western Chad and next to the largest of the Nilo-Saharan languages ​​Luo, whose saharanischem branch it is expected. In Borno State Nigeria it is used in primary education, in the media and in Parliament.

The main dialects are:

  • Yerwa
  • Suwurti
  • Kanembu (western Chad)

The default language is based on the Yerwa dialect. The Kanembu dialect was formerly considered a separate language.

Linguistic Description

The Kanuri is a tonal language with two basic tones ( high- low / ), from which arise the rising, falling and medium tone combinatorially.

The language is characterized in the morphology of the verb by a rich use of prefixes and suffixes, attach the different modes, aspects and derivations expressed. The person is selected on the verb, both for the subject as well as on the object. Modes, and aspects are characterized in part by sound patterns.

The Subjektmorpheme are as follows:

There are basically two classes of verbs, of which one can be recycled through the formative -n, the "say" to a verb, distinguished.

The nouns have no gender, but know a plural, which is indicated by the suffix- wa. Different suffixes are used to mark the semantic roles in the sentence ( agent, undergoer, dative / allative, ablative, Possessor ). In addition, there are a number of Wortbildungsmorphemen.

The basic word order in the sentence is subject-object - verb.

The few foreign words in Kanuri are mostly of Arab origin.

Basic vocabulary

Some words and phrases:


  • Lale! - " Hello! "
  • Wushe! - Answer, even " Thank you! "
  • Ála kəléwa! - "Goodbye! "
  • Aâ - " yes "
  • Ã, Â - "no"
  • Mbéjí - "there is"
  • Bâ / BaWO - " does not exist"