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Mamprusi language

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The Mamprusi language, Mampruli Mampelle, Ŋmampulli, is a Gur language spoken in northern Ghana by the Mamprusi people, and partially mutually intelligible with Dagbani

The Mamprusi language is spoken in a broad belt across the northern parts of the Northern Region of Ghana, stretching west to east from Yizeesi to Nakpanduri and centred on the towns of Gambaga/Nalerigu and Walewale One speaker is a Ŋmampuriga plural Ŋmampurisi, and the land of the Mamprusi is Ŋmampurigu

The language belongs to the Gur family which is part of the great block of Niger-Congo languages which cover most of Africa south of the Sahara Bendor-Samuel 1989 Within Gur it belongs to the Western Oti-Volta subgroup, and particularly its southeastern cluster of six to eight languages Naden 1988, 1989 Closely related and very similar languages spoken nearby are Dagbani, Nanun, KaMara and Hanga, and Kusaal, Nabit and Talni in the Upper East Region Not quite so closely related are Farefare, Waali, Dagaari, Birifor and Safalaba in the Upper East and West Regions and southwest of the Northern Region

Comparatively little linguistic material on the language has been published; there is a brief sketch as an illustration of this subgroup of languages in Naden 198834 A collection of Mampruli proverbs has been published by RP Xavier Plissart,5 and a translation of the New Testament is in print,6 a sample of which can be read and heard online7 There are also beginning Mampruli lessons in which the spoken language can be heard8


  • 1 Dialects
  • 2 Phonology
    • 21 Vowels
    • 22 Consonants
  • 3 Writing system
    • 31 Alphabet
  • 4 Grammar
  • 5 Lexicon
  • 6 References


There is comparatively little dialect variation The western Walewale to the White Volta and Far Western west of the White Volta, area known by those to the east as 'Overseas' have some variant pronunciation standards The far Eastern dialect known as Durili is most notable for pronouncing r and l where the rest of Mampruli pronounces l and r respectively, and for some characteristic intonation patterns



Mampruli has ten phonemic vowels: five short and five long vowels:

Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a
Front Central Back


Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Palatal Velar Labial-velar
Stop Voiceless p t k k͡p
Voiced b d ɡ ɡ͡b
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ ŋ͡m
Fricative Voiceless f s
Voiced v z
Lateral l
Approximant ʋ r j

Writing systemedit

Mampruli is written in a Latin alphabet, but the literacy rate is fairly low The orthography currently used represents a number of allophonic distinctions There is a description of the process of formulating the orthography910


a aa b d e ɛ ee f g ' gb gy h i k kp ky l m n ny ŋ ŋm o ɔ oo p r s t u uu w y z


Mampruli has a fairly conservative Oti-Volta grammatical system The constituent order in Mampruli sentences is usually agent–verb–object There is a simple, non-technical grammatical study 11<<to be expanded>>


The rather unusual trilingual Mampruli-Spanish-English dictionary12 was superseded by the more-reliable simple glossary:13 a full-featured Mampruli dictionary is in course of preparation14 A hundred-word sample can be seen on the Kamusi project site15


  1. ^ Mampruli at Ethnologue 18th ed, 2015
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds 2016 "Mampruli" Glottolog 27 Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History 
  3. ^ Tony, Naden Gur Languages London: Kegan Paul International for IAI /WALS pp 12–49 
  4. ^ Dakubu, Mary Esther Kropp ed 1988 The Languages of Ghana London: Kegan Paul International for IAI /WALS 
  5. ^ Plissart, Xavier 1983 Mampruli Proverbs Tervuren: Musée Royale de l'Afrique 
  6. ^ n/a, n/a 2001 Naawunni Kunni Palli God's New Volume Tamale: GILLBT 
  7. ^ "Matiu 1" 
  8. ^ "Red Mountain Mampruli Project" 
  9. ^ Naden, Di / Tony 2003 Community involvement in orthography design Legon, Ghana: Linguistics Dept, University of Ghana pp 218–221 
  10. ^ Dakubu, , ME Kropp / EKOsam eds 2003 Studies in the Languages of the Volta Basin 1 Legon, Ghana: Linguistics Dept, University of Ghana 
  11. ^ "A Sketch of Basic Grammar in Mampruli" PDF 
  12. ^ Arana, Evangelina, / Mauricio Swadesh 1967 Diccionario analitico del mampruli Mexico DF: Museo de las Culturas, , Instituto Nacional de Anthropologia e Historia 
  13. ^ Naden, Tony ed 1997 Mampruli Vocabulary / Ŋmampulli Yɛla Gbeduuri, NR: Mamprint mimeo 
  14. ^ "Aardvarks Mampruli" 
  15. ^ "Mampruli" 

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