Konkomba language

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Region Ghana, Togo
Native speakers
900,000 (2003–2012)[1]
Latin (Konkomba alphabet)
Konkomba Braille
Language codes
ISO 639-3 xon
Glottolog konk1269[2]
People Bikpakpaam
Language Likpakpaln

Konkomba language (Likpakpaln) is a Gurma language spoken in Ghana and Togo.

Konkomba people[edit]

The Konkomba language, known natively as Likpakpaln, is spoken by Konkomba people, who are also known as Bikpakpaam. The Konkomba language has several dialects, including but not limited to Lichabol, Ligbeln, Likoonli, Limonkpeln and Linafeel.[3] The different dialects emerged because different families and groups settled together and adopted unique pronunciation and vocabulary patterns, forming what could be called uniform dialect groupings. For example, maageekina ( in the Lichabol dialect), maalakiya (in the Limokpeln dialect), and maayeman (in the Likoon dialect) all mean ‘I don’t like that’. This type of variation can be heard in Likpakpaln, depending on what area one finds himself or what clan is dominant in a particular settlement. However, Lichabol dialect is the written variety. Other Bikpakpaam dialects classifications include: Linankpel (Nankpantiib), Likpalil (Bikpalib), Linandeln (Binandim), Lisagmaln (Sagmantiib), and Linalol (Binalob).

A reasonable amount of Likpakpaln literature exists. This literature includes primers for teaching, a word dictionary, storybooks, and folk tales. There is also a full translation of the Holy Bible in Likpakpaln (thanks to GILLBT and GIL, Mary Steele and RILADEP formerly KOLADEP (Konkomba Literacy and Development Project)). ‘Scripture in Use’ has also been made available as a translated version of ‘Jesus’ Passion Movie’ in Likpakpaln. Work on Likpakpaln Bible translation was started by Mary Steele in 1962 when she arrived to work with the Wycliffe Bible Translators.


Likpakpaln is coded (ISO 639-3 xon). Likpakpaln is a genetic affiliate of the Niger-Congo phylum. Taking a cue from Naden,[4] one can derive the genetic root of Likpakpaln as represented below:

                             Niger Congo → Proto-Gur → Central Gur → Oti Volta → Gurma → Likpakpaln.

Within the Gurma linguistic circle, the closest languages to Likpakpaln are Moore ‘Bimoba’ (spoken by the Bimoba people), Bassare (spoken by the Bassare people).


Likpakpaln is an SVO language.

Spelling and orthography[edit]

Likpakpaln Letters of the Alphabet


Capital letters[edit]

                          A, B, CH, D, E, F, G, GB, I, J, K, KP, L, M, N, NY, Ŋ, ŊM, O, Ɔ, P, R, S, T, U, W, Y.
Small letters[edit]
                          a, b, ch, d, e, f, g, gb, i, j, k, kp, l, m, n, ny, ŋ, ŋm, o, ɔ, p, r, s, t, u, w, y.

The orthography follows that which is used in the literature currently in print in Likpakpaln. Under the current convention, long and short vowels are distinguished by the use of single and double letters respectively. (e.g. a, aa). Tone is not marked, but where two words contrast only in tone and the context is unlikely to indicate a distinction in meaning, an /h/ is added after the vowel in one of the words (e.g. upii - woman, upiih - sheep).

There are certain variations, which may occur in the same speaker's speech. For example, sometimes a speaker may use the /r/ sound and sometimes the /l/ sound. Also, there may be variations between one speaker and another within the same village (e.g. some use the plural tiib and some teeb). This is, however, at the phonological level and does not, in any way, affect semantic interpretation.


                         The vowels are: a, e, i, o, ɔ, u.


Letters and sounds are organized as shown below.[5] The format shows a Roman Alphabet letter, followed by a (similar sound in English), with the example (eg.) showing a Likpakpaln word containing a similar sound, followed by the (meaning of the word in English).

                          a (as in father) e.g.: n-na (my mother)                                                                                                  
                          b (as in boy) e.g. ubo (a child)
                          ch (as in church) e.g. chapiln (forgive)
                          d (as in dog) e.g. da (buy)
                          e (eight) e.g. kpe    (add)
                          f (as in fish) e.g. falaa (suffering) 
                          g (as in go) e.g. gaa (take)
                          gb (there is no similar sound in English) e.g. gbi (dig)
                          h (as in hat) e.g. haali (even)       
                          I (as in feet) e.g. ipii (sheep) 
                          j (as in Jack) e.g. kijuk (knife)
                          k (as in kitchen) e.g. kiyiik (calabash)
                          kp (there is no similar sound in English) e.g. uninkpil (elder/chief/boss)
                          l (as in lady) e.g. lafee (health)
                          m (as in man) e.g. limual (a river)
                          n (as in net) e.g. linuul (Yam)
                          ŋ ( as in sing e.g. ŋaan (cook/boil)
                          ŋm (there is no similar sound in English, the closest however is the sound of a kiss, 
                                   gmmmmaaaaaaaa) e.g. ŋmɔ (Chew)
                          ny    (there is no similar sound in English but there is a similar sound in 
                                French as in igname (yam)) e.g. nya (go out/get out)
                          O (as in no) e.g. lijol (mountain/plateau/highland)
                          ɔ (as in paw/log/ball/pawpaw) e.g. mɔk (show/teach)
                          p (as in pick) e.g. paacham (up/above/on top)
                          r (as in rock) e.g. ipaar (benefit/profit)
                          s (as in sit) e.g. kisaak (a farm) 
                          t (as in tip) e.g. litakpaal (a stone/rock)
                          u (as in loop) e.g. likuul (a hoe/a tape/CD/DVD) 
                          w (as in wish) e.g. Uwumbɔr (God)
                           y (as in eye) e.g. liyimbil (a name).

Sample text in Likpakpaln[edit]

Sample Konkomba writing extracted from the Holy Bible and the translated English version:

“Yesu aah kan kinipaak ngbaan na, le u jon ligongoln paab, le ki kal. Le waadidiliib kuun u chee. Le u waar umɔb ki bui bi ke: Binib bi nyi ke bi ye bigiim Uwumbɔr wɔb na, waanyoor bi bi pu. Bima le yeh Uwumbɔr aanaan. Binib bi kpa mpombiin baatunwanbir pu na, Uwumbɔr aanyoor bi bi pu; u ga sɔŋ bisui. Binib bi sunn bibaa taab na, Uwumbɔr aanyoor bi bi pu. Bima le ga li yeh dulnyaa wee. Binib bi aanimbil man ke bi li ye bininyaam na, Uwumbɔr aanyoor bi bi pu. Binimbil ga gbiin. Binib bi kpa linimbaasaln na, Uwumbɔr aanyoor bi bi pu. U mu ga san bi kinimbaak. Binib bi dii Uwumbɔr ni bisui mɔmɔk na, waanyoor bi bi pu. Bima le ga kan uma Uwumbɔr. Binib bi par kijaak na, Uwumbɔr aanyoor bi bi pu. U ga len ke bi ye waabim. Binib bi ji falaa Uwumbɔr aasan aadiim pu na, waanyoor bi bi pu. Bima le yeh uma Uwumbɔr aanaan.” Matiu 5:1-10 XONB http://bible.com/1150/mat.5.1-10.xonb [6]

“And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:1-10 NKJV http://bible.com/114/mat.5.1-10.nkjv [7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Konkomba at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Konkomba". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Froelich, 1954 as cited by Hasselbring, 2006
  4. ^ Naden, T. (1988). The Gur languages. In M. E.K. Dakubu (ed). The Languages of Ghana, 12-49 London: Routledge and Kegan Paul
  5. ^ Live Lingua. KONKOMBA (LIKPAKPAALN ) O.P.L WORKBOOK. Togo: Peace Corps. Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  6. ^ http://bible.com/1150/mat.5.1-10.xonb
  7. ^ http://bible.com/114/mat.5.1-10.nkjv
  • Typological features
  • Anne Schwarz, How many focus markers are there in Konkomba, www.lingref.com/cpp/acal/38/paper2146.pdf
  • Tait, David. 1954. Konkomba nominal classes (with a phonetic commentary by P.D. Strevens). Africa, v. 24, p. 130-148.
  • Njindan, Bernard. 2014. Konkomba People in Ghana: A Historical Perspective. Unpublished Manuscript. July, 2014.