Bamum language

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Region Cameroon, Nigeria
Native speakers
420,000  (2005)[1]
Bamum syllabary
Language codes
ISO 639-3 bax
Glottolog bamu1253[2]
Page from a manuscript in the Bamum script

Bamum (Shüpamom [ʃŷpǎˑmə̀m] "Bamum language"), or in its French spelling Bamoun, is one of the Benue–Congo languages of Cameroon, with approximately a quarter million speakers. The language is well known for its original script developed by King Njoya and his palace circle around 1895. Cameroonian musicians Claude Ndam and Gerryland are native speakers of the language and use it in their music.


Bamum has tone, long vowels and diphthongs, and coda consonants. The simple vowels are,

Front Central Back
i   y ɨ ɯ   u
e ə
ɛ ɔ

The consonants are,

Labial Alveolar Post-
Velar Labialized
p t k kp ʔ
b d ɡ ɡʷ ɡb
mp nt ŋk ŋkʷ ?
mb nd ŋɡ ŋɡʷ ?
f s ʃ x ?
v z ʒ ɣ ?
ɱf ? ɲʃ
ɱv ? ɲʒ
m n ? ŋ ŋʷ ŋm
r   l j w


  1. ^ Bamum at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Bamun". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 

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