Nupe language

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Native to Nigeria
Region Niger State, Kwara North, Kogi State, Federal Capital Territory
Native speakers
(800,000 cited 1990)[1]
L2 speakers: 200,000 (1999)
  • Nupe Tako (Bassa Nge)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 nup
Glottolog nupe1254[2]

Nupe language is spoken primarily by the Nupe people (Nufawa, Nupeci, Nupecidji, Nupenchi, Nupencizi) of the Middle Belt region of Nigeria; its geographical distribution is limited to the west-central portion of this region and maintains pre-eminence in Niger State.

Nupe is a vibrant ethnic group predominantly in the North-Central zone of Nigeria in states such as Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue and the Federal Capital territory. They are also a minority of them located at Yauri, Kebbi state in the far North West Zone. The language whose speakers are referred to as Nupecizhi or Nupes and Takpa by Yorubas, Nufawa by Hausas and whose origin is traced back to the Middle Ages when the Egyptians invaded the then Southern Nubian and Congo basin led to the massive migration of some of its people to settle along the coastal areas of river Niger and Kaduna.[3]

Nupe Language is a tonal language, a common trait of most African languages which use all sorts of speeches for effective and efficient communication. The speeches come in form of egankogi (parable), gangba (warning), egancin (idiom), ecingi (riddle/tales), eganmagan (proverb).[4]

"Eganmagan" (proverb) and its plural "eganmaganzhi" are wise sayings well spoken among the Nupes. These proverbs educate, entertain, and teach morality and are didactic. They form part of the oral or unwritten on norms and ethics of the Nupe societies passed from one generation to another through songs, stories, fables, folk tales, myths, legends, incantations, communal discussions, worshiped etc.

Similar to other African proverbs, Nupe proverbs associate or relate peoples action to their immediate environment in order to explain or correct particular situation, norm, issue, problem. They also enlighten, warn and advice or teach the language in other to change perception which in most cases becomes reality.[5]

Nupe dialects[edit]

Nupe language has a number of varieties and is also surrounded by very interesting and friendly neighbors who have been living together as family for centuries. Though, historians have classified all of them as possessing the same ancestral trait as the Nupoid languages of Niger-Congo basins of the Western and Eastern Africa.

"Edzomacizhi nya Nupe" Nupe dialects are the "Basanges", "Dibos", "Gana-ganas", "Kakandas", Kurpa etc. Found in Niger, Kogi, Kwara and the Federal Capital Territory, though in most cases each of such dialects is treated as an independent language and the similarity and slight differences as regards to the languages, customs and traditions reveal more of how strongly connected the dialects are to their parent language - the Nupe language.[6]


  1. ^ Nupe at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Nupe-Nupe-Tako". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Ibrahim, Isyaku Bala (2009) Eganmaganzhi Nupe (Nupe Proverbs), over a thousand (1000) proverbs). Minna: Gandzo Enterprises.
  4. ^ Ibrahim, Isyaku Bala (2009) Eganmaganzhi Nupe (Nupe Proverbs), over a thousand (1000) proverbs). Minna: Gandzo Enterprises.
  5. ^ Ibrahim, Isyaku Bala (2009) Eganmaganzhi Nupe (Nupe Proverbs), over a thousand (1000) proverbs). Minna: Gandzo Enterprises.
  6. ^ Ibrahim, Isyaku Bala (2012). Enyalò (Nupe Arithmetic). Minna: Gandzo Enterprises.

External links[edit]