Asa language

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Region Tanzania
Ethnicity Asa people
Extinct mid 20th century
Language codes
ISO 639-3 aas
Glottolog aasa1238[1]

The Asa (Aasá) language, commonly rendered Aasax, was spoken by the Asa people of Tanzania. The language is nearly extinct;[2] ethnic Assa in northern Tanzania remember only a few words they overheard their elders use, and none have ever used it themselves. Little is known of the language; what is recorded was probably Aasa lexical words used in a register of Maasai, rather like the mixed language Mbugu.


Asa is usually classified as Cushitic, most closely related to Kw'adza. However, it might have retained a non-Cushitic layer from an earlier language shift, and might be best left unclassified.[3]

The Aramanik (Laramanik) people once spoke Asa, but shifted to Nandi (as opposed to Maasai).


  • wataka - all
  • buʕurita - burn
  • dah - claw
  • ga - cloud
  • ki=te - die
  • wa-t--dog
  • rakaš-dry
  • yatara -drink
  • haǯa-t -earth
  • ʔag- ~ ʔag-im- - eat
  • ila-t - - eye
  • ʔoreʔ-ek -far [4]


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Aasax". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ "Aasáx | Ethnologue: A language of Tanzania"
  3. ^ "Towards a new classification of African languages", Linguistic Contribution to the History of Sub-Saharan Africa, University of Lyons
  4. ^
  • Petrollino, Sara & Maarten Mous, 2010, Recollecting Words and Expressions in Aasá, a Dead Language in Tanzania

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