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Songhai Language Facts and Information

Information About Songhai Language

Songhai language topics and discussion
Songhai speakers in the Phrasebase community
 
Extinct: no
Family: Other
Branch: Nilo-Saharan
Continent: Africa
Country: Mali
 
Region: KOYRA CHIINI: On the Niger River from Djenne to just east of Timbuktu. HUMBURI SENNI: Hombori area, halfway between Gao and Mopti. Also spoken in Burkina Faso. KOYRABORO SENNI: Southeast, on the Niger River from Gourma Rharous, just east of Timbuktu, through Bourem, Gao, and Ansongo on to the Mali-Niger border. Borders Kaado (Zarma) in Niger, but boundary zone not well studied.\
Countries Where Spoken: KOYRA CHIINI: 200,000 (1999 Dan Stauffer). HUMBURI SENNI: 15,000 in Mali (1999 J. Heath). Population total both countries 140,000. Burkino Faso. KOYRABORO SENNI: 400,000 (1999 Dan Stauffer).
Countries Where Official: Mali
   
Native Speakers: 140,000
Speakers Total: 140,000
  
Phrasebase members who speak Songhay at a native level: 0
Phrasebase members who speak Songhay at a conversational level: 0
Phrasebase members primary language they are trying to learn is Songhay: 0
Phrasebase members secondary language they are trying to learn is Songhay: 0
  
Three Letter Code: KHQ
Alternative Names: SONGHAI, SONGAI, SONGAY, SONGOI, SONGOY, SONGHOY, SONRAI, SONRHAI, WEST SONGHOY, TIMBUKTU SONGHOY, SONGHAI, SONGAI, SONGAY, SONGOI, SONGOY, SONGHOY, SONRAI, SONRHAI, CENTRAL SONGAI, HOMBORI SONGHAY, SONGHAI, SONGAY, SONGAI, SONGOI, SONGOY, SONGHOY, SONRAI
Dialects:
 
Summary: KOYRA CHIINI: The main dialect division is between Timbuktu and the upriver towns from Dire to Niafunke. A very distinct dialect is in Djenne city. Closely related languages: Koyraboro Senni Songhay, Humburi Senni Songhay, Zarma, Dendi. Kaado (Zarma dialect) is SOV, West Songhay SVO; Kaado has 3 tones, West Songhay no tones. 77% lexical similarity between Gao and Timbuktu dialects, 50% lexical similarity with Tadaksahak. In Timbuktu they are mainly monolingual, some French, Tamashek, Arabic; In Djenne most are bilingual or multilingual in French, Bambara, or other languages. All ages. Timbuktu has more prestige than other West Songhoy dialects. Dictionary. Grammar. Djenne Chiini phonology, lexicon, basic inflection almost identical to Koyra Chiini, but syntax (especially relativization and focalization) very different; Djenne has 7 vowels to 5 for Koyra Chinni (J. Heath). Muslim, traditional religion. NT 1936. HUMBURI SENNI: Closely related languages: Koyraboro Senni Songhay, Koyra Senni Songhay, Zarma, Dendi. Another separate Songhay variety is in Kikara (=Kiira) village near Douentza (J. Heath). Investigation needed: intelligibility, attitudes. Dictionary. Grammar. SOV, tonal. Muslim, traditional religion. KOYRABORO SENNI: Intelligibility is good with all dialects on the Niger River. Fulan Kirya variety has more limited intelligibility because of heavy lexical borrowing from Fulfulde and Humburi Senni Songay. Closely related languages: Koyra Chiini Songhay, Humburi Senni Songhay, Zarma, Dendi. 77% lexical similarity between Gao and Timbuktu varieties, 50% lexical similarity with Tadaksahak. Many are monolingual. Some know Bambara, French, or Tamasheq, but there is no extensive bilingualism (J. Heath 1999). All ages. Gao variety is dominant in all respects. Trade language. Dictionary. Grammar. SOV, nontonal. Gao Songai is being actively promoted by the government through adult literacy classes and as the language of instruction at primary level in some experimental schools throughout the Songhay area. Language of instruction at primary level in some experimental schools. Muslim, traditional religion.
 

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