Alagwa language

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Native toTanzania
RegionDodoma region
Native speakers
30,000 (2003)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3wbj

Alagwa is a Cushitic language spoken in Tanzania in the Dodoma region.[3] Some Alagwa have shifted to other languages such as Sandawe.


Word order[edit]

Alagwa sentences have a generalized order [Subject X Auxiliary Y Verb Z], and elements of the sentence other than the subject appear in the positions labelled X, Y, and Z, depending on their information status in the clause. New material tends to appear in the post-verbal position, Z, while old information appears in the pre-auxiliary position, X.

The following example (Kiessling 2007:138) shows the noun yaawáa 'dowry' introduced as new information after the verb in the first sentence and repeated as old information before the auxiliary ningi in the second sentence.

makimoo-w-ód, ning-aa xay-ee’ ningi bu’-i-yee’ yaawáa
guy-M-D SEQ:S3-ABL come:3-PF.PL SEQ:S3 pay-3-PF.PL dowry
'that guy, they [i.e. the lions] came and paid the dowry.'
maa dende’ee-w-ós yaawáa ningi bu’-i-yee’
so folks-N-3SG.POSS dowry SEQ:O3PL pay-3-PF.PL
'His folks paid the dowry.'


  1. ^ Alagwa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Alagwa". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Raymond G. Gordon Jr., ed. 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 15th edition. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.


  • Kiesling, Roland. 2007. Alagwa functional sentence perspective and "incorporation". Omotic and Cushitic Language Studies. Papers from the Fourth Cushitic Omotic Conference, Leiden, 10-12 April 2003. Edited by Azeb Amha, Maarten Mous, Graziano Savà. Rüdiger Köppe Verlag. ISBN 978-3-89645-482-9.
  • Mous, Maarten. 2001. Alagwa basic syntax. In New data and new methods in Afroasiatic linguistics. Zaborski, Andrzej (ed.), 125-135. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.