Suri language

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Native to Ethiopia
Region Bench Maji Zone
Ethnicity Suri, Tirma
Native speakers
27,000  (2007 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 suq
Glottolog suri1267[2]

Suri (also Churi, Dhuri, Shuri, Shuro, Surma, Tirma) is a Nilo-Saharan Eastern Sudanic language, of the Surmic grouping. It is spoken in the Bench Maji Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR) in Ethiopia, to the South Sudan border, and across the border in South Sudan by the Suri. The language has over 80% lexical similarity to Mursi.[3]

General information[edit]

The Suri people contain two subgroups in which they speak the two main dialects: Tirma and Chai[disambiguation needed]. This is the make up the Suri or Surma ethnic group. The number of Suri speakers varies widely among multiple sources but can be estimated at around 28,000 speakers. As it stands, the Suri are a free-standing society but are on the verge of joining with the greater Ethiopian polity. They are currently recognized by the Ethiopian state as independent ethnic group having their own "cultural and linguistic rights".


  • Abbink, Jon, Michael Bryant & Daniel Bambu. 2013. Suri Orature: An Introduction to the Society, Language and Oral Culture of the Suri People (Southwest Ethiopia). Cologne: R. Köppe Publishers, 203 pp..
  • Bryant, Mike and Bargola Olekibo, compilers. 1997. Surichen ko aranjacan ko golacan (Suri - English - Amharic dictionary). 2nd ed. S.l.: Surma Translation Project. 65 p.
  • Bryant, Michael G. 1999. Aspects of Tirmaga Grammar. MA thesis. University of Texas, Arlington.
  • Last, Marco and Deborah Lucassen. 1998. "A Grammatical Sketch on Chai, a Southeastern Surmic Language". in: Dimmendaal, Gerrit and Marco Last (eds.) Surmic Languages and Cultures. Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Köln. pp. 375–436.
  • Unseth, Peter. 1997. "Disentangling the Two Languages Called 'Suri'". Occasional Papers in the Study of Sudanese Languages 7: 49-69.
  • Last, Marco and Deborah Lucassen. 1998. "Violence and Political Discourse Among the Chai Suri". in: Dimmendaal, Gerrit and Marco Last (eds.) Surmic Languages and Cultures. Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Köln. pp. 323.
  • Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. 2011. "Historical Linguistics and the Comparative Study of African Languages". Philadelphia: Benjamins.
  1. ^ Ethiopia 2007 Census
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Suri". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Suri entry in Ethnologue

External links[edit]