|Region||Central Sierra Leone|
|1.2 million (2006)|
Official language in
Temne (also Themne, Timne; IPA: [t̪emnɛ][missing the tones]) is a language of the Mel branch of Niger–Congo, spoken in Sierra Leone by about 2 million first speakers. One of the country's most widely spoken languages, it is spoken by 30% of the country’s population. It also serves as a lingua franca for an additional 1,500,000 people living in areas near the Temne people. It is closely related to the neighboring Kissi language.
It is related to the Baga languages spoken in Guinea and to Sherbro spoken in Sierra Leone. Temne speakers live mostly in the Northern Province and Western Area (Freetown and its environs) of Sierra Leone, Temne speakers can also be found in all 12 districts of Sierra Leone. Temne people can be found in a number of other West African countries as well, including Guinea and The Gambia. Some Temnes have also migrated beyond West Africa seeking educational and professional opportunities, especially in Great Britain, the United States, and Egypt. Temnes are mostly scholars, business people, farmers, and coastal fishermen; and most are Muslims.
Temne is a tonal language, with four tones. Among consonants, Temne distinguishes dental and alveolar, but unusually, the dental consonants are apical and the alveolar consonants are laminal (and slightly affricated), the opposite of the general pattern, though one found also in the nearby language Limba.
The alphabet of Temne includes the following characters and digraphs:
- Temne at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Timne". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. p. 23, 42. ISBN 0-631-19814-8.
- Peace Corps, 1987, Sierra Leone Temne Language Manual.
- Bai-Sharka, Abou (1986) Temne names and proverbs (Stories and songs from Sierra Leone vol. 19). Freetown: People’s Educational Association of Sierra Leone.
- Kamarah, Sheikh Umarr (2007) A descriptive grammar of KʌThemnɛ (Temne). Munich: Lincom Europa.
- Peace Corps (1987) Sierra Leone Temne Language Manual. Washington, DC: Peace Corps.
- Turay, Abdul Karim (1989) Temne stories. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
- Wilson, W.A.A. (1961) An outline of the Temne language. London: University of London / SOAS.
- Yillah, M. Sorie (1992) Temne phonology and morphology [Unpublished thesis. New York: City University of New York]. Ann Arbor: UMI.
- Temne Words and Phrases
- Grammar of the Temne language, 1864 - Rev. C. F. Schlenker
- CIA Sierra Leone file
- PanAfrican L10n page on Temne
- Listening example: Kassirie Stories
- Temne page on JoshuaProject.net
- Resources in the Temne language
- OLAC resources in and about the Timne language
- Temne story "Mr. Spider and the Rotten Skin" with English rough translation
- Glottolog page for Timne