Koyra Chiini ([kojra tʃiːni], literally "town language"), or Western Songhay, is a variety of Songhai in Mali, spoken by about 200,000 people (as of 1999) along the Niger River in Timbuktu and upriver from it in the towns of Diré, Tonka, Goundam, and Niafunké, as well as in the Saharan town of Araouane to its north. In this area, Koyra Chiini is the dominant language and the lingua franca, although minorities speaking Hassaniya Arabic, Tamashek, and Fulani are found. Djenné Chiini [dʒɛnːɛ tʃiːni], the Songhai variety spoken in Djenné, is mutually comprehensible, but has noticeable differences with Koyra Chiini proper - in particular, two extra vowels (/ɛ/ and /ɔ/) and syntactic differences related to focalization. East of Timbuktu, Koyra Chiini gives way relatively abruptly to another Songhai language, Koyraboro Senni.
Unlike most Songhai languages, Koyra Chiini has no phonemic tones, and has subject–verb–object word order rather than subject–object–verb. It has changed original z to j.
- Jeffrey Heath, 1998. A Grammar of Koyra Chiini, the Songhay of Timbuktu. Mouton de Gruyter: Mouton Grammar Series. ISBN 3-11-016285-7.
- ed. Jeffrey Heath, Wilhelm J. Möhlig, 1998. Texts in Koyra Chiini Songhay of Timbuktu, Mali. Ruediger Koeppe. ISBN 3-89645-260-6.
- Jeffrey Heath, Dictionnaire Songhay-Anglais-Français: Tome 1 - Koyra Chiini, ou "songhay de Tombouctou", Tome 2 - Djenné Chiini, ou "songhay de Djenné". L'Harmattan:Paris 1998. ISBN 2-7384-6726-1.