Mamprusi language

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Native toGhana
EthnicityMamprusi people
Native speakers
230,000 (2004)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3maw
LanguageMampruli (Ŋmampulli?)

Mamprusi (autonym Mampruli, also Mampelle, Ŋmampulli) is a Gur language spoken in northern Ghana by the Mamprusi people. It is partially mutually intelligible with Dagbani. The Mamprusi language is spoken in a broad belt across the northern parts of the Northern Region of Ghana, stretching west to east from Yizeesi to Nakpanduri and centred on the towns of Gambaga/Nalerigu and Walewale. In Mamprusi, one speaker is a Ŋmampuriga, many (plural) are Ŋmampurisi and the land of the Mamprusi is Ŋmampurigu.

The language belongs to the Gur family which is part of the Niger–Congo language family, which covers most of Sub-Saharan Africa (Bendor-Samuel 1989). Within Gur it belongs to the Western Oti–Volta subgroup, and particularly its southeastern cluster of six to eight languages (Naden 1988, 1989). Closely related and very similar languages spoken nearby are Dagbani, Nanun, Kamara and Hanga in the Northern Region, and Kusaal, Nabit and Talni in the Upper East Region. Not quite so closely related are Farefare, Waali, Dagaari, Birifor and Safalaba in the Upper East and Upper West Regions and southwest of the Northern Region.

Comparatively little linguistic material on the language has been published; there is a brief sketch as an illustration of this subgroup of languages in Naden 1988.[3][4] A collection of Mampruli proverbs has been published by R.P. Xavier Plissart,[5] and a translation of the New Testament is in print,[6] a sample of which can be read and heard online.[7] There are also beginning Mampruli lessons in which the spoken language can be heard.[8]


There is comparatively little dialect variation. The western (Walewale to the White Volta) and Far Western (west of the White Volta, area known by those to the east as "Overseas") have some variant pronunciation standards. The far Eastern dialect known as Durili is most notable for pronouncing [r] and [l] where the rest of Mampruli pronounces [l] and [r] respectively, and for some characteristic intonation patterns.



Mampruli has ten phonemic vowels: five short and five long vowels:

Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a
Front Central Back


Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Palatal Velar Labial-velar
Stop Voiceless p t k k͡p
Voiced b d ɡ ɡ͡b
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ ŋ͡m
Fricative Voiceless f s
Voiced v z
Lateral l
Approximant ʋ r j

Writing system[edit]

Mampruli is written in a Latin alphabet, but the literacy rate is fairly low. The orthography currently used represents a number of allophonic distinctions. There is a description of the process of formulating the orthography.[9][10]


a aa b d e ɛ ee f g ' gb gy h i k kp ky l m n ny ŋ ŋm o ɔ oo p r s t u uu w y z


Mampruli has a fairly conservative Oti-Volta grammatical system. The constituent order in Mampruli sentences is usually agent–verb–object. There is a simple, non-technical grammatical study [11]<<to be expanded>>


The rather unusual trilingual (Mampruli-Spanish-English) dictionary[12] was superseded by the more-reliable simple glossary:[13] a full-featured Mampruli dictionary is in course of preparation.[14] A hundred-word sample can be seen on the Kamusi project site[15]


  1. ^ Mampruli at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mampruli". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Tony, Naden. Gur Languages. London: Kegan Paul International for I.A.I. /W.A.L.S. pp. 12–49.
  4. ^ Dakubu, Mary Esther Kropp [ed.] (1988). The Languages of Ghana. London: Kegan Paul International for I.A.I. /W.A.L.S.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Plissart, Xavier (1983). Mampruli Proverbs. Tervuren: Musée Royale de l'Afrique.
  6. ^ n/a, n/a (2001). Naawunni Kunni Palli (God's New Volume). Tamale: GILLBT.
  7. ^ "Matiu 1".
  8. ^ "Red Mountain Mampruli Project".
  9. ^ Naden, Di / Tony (2003). Community involvement in orthography design. Legon, Ghana: Linguistics Dept., University of Ghana. pp. 218–221.
  10. ^ Dakubu, , M.E. Kropp / E.K.Osam [eds.] (2003). Studies in the Languages of the Volta Basin 1. Legon, Ghana: Linguistics Dept., University of Ghana.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "A Sketch of Basic Grammar in Mampruli" (PDF).
  12. ^ Arana, Evangelina, / Mauricio Swadesh (1967). Diccionario analitico del mampruli. Mexico D.F.: Museo de las Culturas, , Instituto Nacional de Anthropologia e Historia.
  13. ^ Naden, Tony [ed.] (1997). Mampruli Vocabulary / Ŋmampulli Yɛla. Gbeduuri, N.R.: Mamprint (mimeo).CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  14. ^ "Aardvarks Mampruli".
  15. ^ "Mampruli".