Fula alphabets

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The Fula languages (Fula: Fulfulde or Pulaar or Pular) are written primarily in a Latin alphabet, but in some areas is still written in an older Arabic alphabet called the Ajami alphabet.

Latin alphabets[edit]


The Latin script was introduced to Pular-speaking regions of West and Central Africa by Europeans during, and in some cases immediately before, colonization. Various people – missionaries, colonial administrators, and later during the colonial period, scholarly researchers, devised various ways of writing the Pular language they encountered. One issue similar to other efforts by Europeans to use their alphabet and home orthographic conventions to write African languages with unfamiliar sounds was how to represent the implosive b and d, the ejective y, the velar n (the latter being present in European languages, but never in initial position), prenasalised consonants, and doubled vowels (the latter being as significant in Pular for meaning as tone differences are in other languages).

Major influences on the current forms used for writing Pular were decisions made by colonial administrators in Northern Nigeria and the Africa Alphabet. A major conference on African language orthographies held in Bamako in 1966 confirmed this trend.

Nevertheless, orthographies for the language and its variants are determined at the country level. So while Pular writing uses basically the same character sets and rules (such as for doubling vowels), there are some variations.


Some general rules:

  • Vowels
    • Long vowels are doubled
    • Two different vowels are never used together
  • Consonants
    • To accentuate a consonant, double the consonant (or write " ' " before the consonant. Example, "temmeere" = "te'meere".[citation needed])

Alphabets by country[edit]

Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania[edit]

a, aa, b, mb, ɓ, c, d, nd, ɗ, e, ee, f, g, ng, h, i, ii, j, nj, k, l, m, n, ŋ, ñ, o, oo, p, r, s, t, u, uu, w, x, y, ƴ


Version 1: a, b, ɓ, nb, d, ɗ, e, f, g, ɠ, ng, h, i, j, nj, k, l, m, n, ɲ, ŋ, o, p, r, s, t, c, u, w, y, ƴ
Version 2 (with keyboard-ready characters): a, b, bh, nb, c, d, dh, nd, e, f, g, ng, gn or ny, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, w, y, yh
Matching the two versions: bh = ɓ (as in bheydugol); dh = ɗ (as in dhuytugol); q = ɠ (as in qaagnagol, or qermugol); gn or ny = ɲ (as in gnaamugol or nyaamugol); yh = ƴ (as in yhettugol). Note: As native speakers of Pular from Fuuta Jalon, we are unable, so far, to find words that use the ŋ and nj characters.

Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia[edit]

a, b, ɓ, c, d, ɗ, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, mb, n, nd, ng, nj, ŋ, ñ, o, p, r, s, t, u, w, y, ƴ, '

Mali, Burkina Faso[edit]

a, aa, b, mb, ɓ, c, d, nd, ɗ, e, ee, f, g, ng, h, i, ii, j, nj, k, l, m, n, ŋ, ɲ, o, oo, p, r, s, t, u, uu, w, x, y, ƴ

Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad[edit]

a, aa, b, mb, ɓ, c, d, nd, ɗ, e, ee, f, g, ng, h, i, ii, j, nj, k, l, m, n, ŋ, ny, o, oo, p, r, s, t, u, uu, w, x, y, ƴ

Arabic (Ajami) alphabet[edit]

The Arabic script was introduced into the West African Sahel with Islam several centuries before European colonization. As was the case with other languages such as Hausa, Muslim Fulas who went through Koranic education adapted the script to writing their language. This practice, while never formally standardized, followed some patterns of customary use in various regions. These usages differ on some details, mainly on how to represent certain consonants and vowels not present in the Arabic language.

Adlam alphabet[edit]

During the late 1980s an alphabetic script was devised by the brothers Ibrahima Barry and Abdoulaye Barry, in order to represent the Fulani language. After several years of development it started to be widely adopted among Fulani communities, and is currently taught at schools in Guinea, Nigeria, Liberia and other nearby countries. The name Adlam is an anagram of the first four letters of the alphabet (A, D, L, M), standing for Alkule Dandaydhe Leñol Mulugol ("the alphabet which protects the peoples from vanishing"). The Adlam script has been proposed for encoding in Unicode.[1]

Other scripts[edit]

There has been at least one effort to adapt the N'Ko script to Pular of Guinea.


  1. ^ Everson, Michael (23 September 2014). "Proposal for encoding the Adlam script in the SMP of the UCS".