Comorian language

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Native toComoros and Mayotte
RegionThroughout Comoros and Mayotte; also in Madagascar and Réunion
Native speakers
800,000 in Comoros[1] and 300,000 in Mayotte[2][3] (2011 and 2007)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
zdj – Ngazidja dialect
wni – Ndzwani (Anjouani) dialect
swb – Maore dialect
wlc – Mwali dialect

Comorian (Shikomori or Shimasiwa, the "language of islands") is a Bantu language spoken in Comoros, an island country archipelago Indian Ocean, off the coast of Mozambique and Madagascar, where it is also the official language. It is also widely spoken on the disputed territory of Mayotte, a region of France claimed by Comoros. It is part of the Sabaki languages branch of the Bantu languages, along with highly mutually intelligible Swahili. 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.[6]

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.[7] 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:


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


Bilabial Labio-
Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop voiceless p t ʈ k
voiced (b) (d) ɖ ɡ
implosive ɓ ɗ
prenasalized ᵑɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡s t͡ʃ
voiced d͡z d͡ʒ
Fricative voiceless β f θ s ʃ x h
voiced v ð z ʒ ɣ
Nasal m n ɲ
Approximant w l j
Trill r

The orthographic b and d are phonetically recognized as ranging from [ɓ~b] and [ɗ~d].


  1. ^ "Udzima wa Komori". Université Laval, 2325, rue de l'Université. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  2. ^ Daniel Barreteau. "Premiers résultats d'une enquête sociolinguistique auprès des élèves de CM2 de Mayotte" (PDF) (in French). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
  3. ^ "Population of Mayotte". INSEE.
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Comorian Bantu". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  6. ^ Breslar, 1981; Ahmed-Chamanga, 2010
  7. ^ 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.
  • Rey, Veronique. (1994) Première approche du mwali. Africana Linguistica XI. Tervuren: MRAC.

External links[edit]