Susu language

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Native toGuinea, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau
RegionCoastal Guinea
Native speakers
1.06 million (2001–2006)[1]
  • Mande
    • Western Mande
      • Central
        • Soso–Yalunka
          • Soso
Language codes
ISO 639-2sus
ISO 639-3sus

The Susu language (endonym: Susu: Sosoxui; French: Soussou) is the language of the Susu or Soso people of Guinea and Sierra Leone, West Africa. It is in the Mande language family.

It is one of the national languages of Guinea and spoken mainly in the coastal region of the country.


The language was also used by people in the coastal regions of Guinea and Sierra Leone as a trade language.

The first literature in Susu was a translation of the first seven chapters of the Gospel of Matthew, translated by John Godfrey Wilhelm of the Church Mission Society. This was published in London as "Lingjili Matthew" in 1816. J.G. Wilhelm translated a considerable portion of the New Testament, but only this small part appears to have been printed.

Grammatical sketch[edit]

Susu is an SOV language, Poss-N, N-D, generally suffixing, non-pro-drop, wh-in-situ, with no agreement affixes on the verb, no noun classes, no gender, and with a clitic plural marker which attaches to the last element of the NP (N or D, typically), but does not co-occur with numerals. It has no definite or indefinite articles. Sentential negation is expressed with a particle, mu, whose distribution is unclear (with adjectival predicates it seems to sometimes infix, but with transitive verbs it comes before the object).


khame didi to ne. man boy see PAST "The/a man saw the/a boy."
a. n taami don ma. 1sg bread eat PRES(generic) "I eat bread."
b. i taami don ma. 2sg bread eat PRES(generic) "You (sg) eat bread."
c. a taami don ma. 3sg bread eat PRES(generic) "He/she/it eats bread."
d. won taami don ma. bread eat PRES(generic) "We (including you) eat bread."
e. mukhu taami don ma. bread eat PRES(generic) "We (excluding you) eat bread."
f. wo taami don ma. 2pl bread eat PRES(generic) "You (pl or polite [sg or pl]) eat bread." ("wo" is used as French "vous")
g. e taami don ma. 3pl bread eat PRES(generic) "They eat bread."


a. n bankhi to né. 1sg house see PAST. "I saw a/the house."
b. n taami don fe. 1sg bread eat PROG "I am eating the bread."

Object pronouns have the same form as subject pronouns:

a. khame n to né. man 1sg see PAST. "A/the man saw me."
b. khame i to né. man 2sg see PAST. "A/the man saw you (sg)."
c. khame a to né. man 3sg see PAST. "A/the man saw him/her/it."
d. khame won to né. man see PAST. "A/the man saw us (including you)."
e. khame mukhu to né. man see PAST. "A/the man saw us (excluding you)."
f. khame wo to né. man 2pl see PAST. "A/the man saw you (pl)."
g. khame e to né. man 3pl see PAST. "A/the man saw them."

Adverbs can precede the subject or follow the verb:

a. khoro n fa né. yesterday 1sg arrive PAST "Yesterday I arrived."
b. n fa né khoro. 1sg arrive PAST yesterday "I arrived yesterday."

NPs come in a variety of forms:

khamé "boy (sg)", khame e "boys (pl)
taami "bread (sg)", taami e "breads (pl)"
a. khame e taami don ma. boy pl bread eat PRES "The/0 boys eat bread."
b. khamé taami e don ma. boy bread pl eat PRES "The/a boy eats breads."

Possessive affixes precede the noun:

baba "father":
m baba "my father"
i baba "your (sg) father"
a baba "his/her/its father"
wom baba "our father"
wo baba "your (pl) father"
e baba "their father"
a. woto keren car one "one car"
b. woto firin car two "two cars"
c. woto sakhan "three cars"
d. woto nani "four cars"
e. woto suli "five cars"
f. woto senni "six cars"
g. woto solofere "seven cars"
h. woto solomasakhan "eight cars"
i. woto solomanani "nine cars"
j. woto fu "ten cars"
k. woto fu nun keren "eleven cars"
l. woto fu nun firin "twelve cars"
n woto nde e to né 1sg car indef.D pl see PAST "I saw several cars"/"J'ai vu des autos."
woto nde "some car"
di nde "some boy"
bangkhi nde "some house"
khame nde "someone"
se nde "something"
nde "who/some"
i nde to? you who see "Who did you see?"
i munse don ma? 2sg what eat PRES "What will you eat?"


Susu does not appear to have tones. The grapheme ⟨kh⟩ above represents a voiceless uvular fricative.

Susu consonants[2]
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal Labial-velar
Nasal m ⟨m⟩ n ⟨n⟩ ɲ ⟨ɲ⟩ ŋ ⟨ng⟩
Plosive prenasalized nd ⟨nd⟩
voiced b ⟨b⟩ d ⟨d⟩ ɡ ⟨g⟩ ɡb ⟨gb⟩
voiceless p ⟨p⟩ t ⟨t⟩ k ⟨k⟩
Fricative f ⟨f⟩ s ⟨s⟩ χ ⟨x⟩ h ⟨h⟩
Trill r ⟨r⟩
Approximant w ⟨w⟩ l ⟨l⟩ j ⟨y⟩
Susu vowels[2]
Front Back
Close i ⟨i⟩ u ⟨u⟩
Close-mid e ⟨e⟩ o ⟨o⟩
Open-mid ɛ ⟨ɛ⟩ ɔ ⟨ɔ⟩
Open a ⟨a⟩


Sosoxui is closely related to the Yalunka language.


External links[edit]