Grammar of the Bornu or Kanuri Language
Author: S. W. Koelle
Publication date: 1854
ISBN: xxxxxxx
Number of pages: 350
Format / Quality: PDF-zipped
Size: 9MB

Kanuri is a dialect continuum spoken by approximately four million people in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, as well as small minorities in southern Libya and by a diaspora in Sudan. 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 consonant weakening (for example, sa- “they” + -buna “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.

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