Comorian language

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Native to Comoros and Mayotte
Region Throughout Comoros and Mayotte; also in Madagascar and Réunion
Native speakers
(700,000 cited 1993–2004)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
zdj – Ngazidja dialect
wni – Ndzwani (Anjouani) dialect
swb – Maore dialect
wlc – Mwali dialect
Glottolog como1260[2]

Comorian (Shikomori or Shimasiwa, the "language of islands") is an official language in the Comoros (an independent country of islands in the Indian Ocean, off Mozambique and Madagascar) and widely spoken on the disputed territory of Mayotte, claimed by both France and Comoros.[4] It is a set of Sabaki languages. Each island has a different dialect and the four are conventionally divided into two groups: the eastern group is composed of Shindzuani (spoken on Anjouan) and Shimaore (Mayotte), while the western group is composed of Shimwali (Mohéli) and Shingazija (Grande Comore). Although the two groups share about 80% of their lexicon, they are not usually mutually intelligible, thus suggesting that they should be considered two language groups rather than four dialects.[5]

Historically, the language was written in the Arabic script. The French colonial administration introduced the Latin script, of which a modified version was officially decreed in 2009.[6] The Arabic script remains widely used.

It is the language of Udzima wa ya Masiwa, the national anthem.


The consonants and vowels in the Comorian languages:


Bilabial Labial Dental Alveolar Post-


Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive plain p b t d ʈ k ɡ
implosive ɓ ɗ
Fricative β f v θ ð s z ʃ ʒ x ɣ h
Affricate ts dz tʃ dʒ ŋɡ
Trill r
Lateral l
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Approximant w j


Front Central Back
Close i ĩ u ũ
Mid e o
Open a ã


  1. ^ Ngazidja dialect at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Ndzwani (Anjouani) dialect at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Maore dialect at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Mwali dialect at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Comorian Bantu". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  4. ^ Comoros
  5. ^ Breslar, 1981; Ahmed-Chamanga, 2010
  6. ^ Ahmed-Chamanga, 2010

Further reading[edit]

  • Ahmed-Chamanga, Mohamed. (1992) Lexique Comorien (shindzuani) – Français. Paris: L'Harmattan.
  • Ahmed-Chamanga, Mohamed. (1997) Dictionnaire français-comorien (dialecte Shindzuani). Paris: L'Harmattan.
  • Ahmed-Chamanga, Mohamed. (2010) Introduction à la grammaire structurale du comorien. Moroni: Komedit. 2 vols.
  • Breslar, Jon. (1981) An Ethnography of the Mahorais (Mayotte, Comoro Islands). Thesis presented at University of Pittsburgh.
  • Djohar, Abdou. (2014) Approche contrastive franco-comorienne: les séquences figées à caractère adjectival. Université Paris-Nord.
  • Johansen, Aimee. A History of Comorian Linguistics. in John M. Mugane (ed.), Linguistic Typology and Representation of African Languages. Africa World Press. Trenton, New Jersey.
  • Lafon, Michel. (1991) Lexique Français-Comorien (Shingazidja). Paris: L'Harmattan.

External links[edit]