Wandala language

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Native toCameroon, Nigeria
RegionBorno State
Native speakers
(44,000 cited 1982–1993)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3mfi

Wandala, also known as Mandara or Mura', is a language in the Chadic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, spoken in Cameroon and Nigeria.[3]

Geographic distribution[edit]

Wandara has 23,500 speakers in Northern Cameroon and 20,000 speakers in Nigeria.[3]

The Malgwa dialect is distinct.[3]


Wandala is reported to have no phonemic vowels, a rarity among the world's languages.[4] An alternative analysis is that it has three underlying vowels a i and u and six phonetic vowels [a], [i], [u], [ə], [e] and [o].[3]

It has a rich consonant inventory, with more than forty consonantal segments.[3] There are two tones, with their functions differing among different morpheme classes.[3]

Syllable structure[edit]

Some possible syllable structures are V, N (nasal consonant), CV, Glide V, VC, CVC. Consonant clusters are not permitted in the coda. To avoid breaking this constraint, a central vowel may be inserted in word-final position. The consonant r may act as a syllabic peak, meaning the structure Cr is a possible syllable structure.


Lexical categories[edit]

Wandala has the lexical categories of noun, verb, adjective, adverb, and predicator.[3]


Reduplication is a major morphological process in Wandala, with different forms and functions that may be limited to one lexical category or shared across lexical categories.[3] Partial reduplication gives the plural form of verbs and adjectives, while complete reduplication gives aspectual and modal forms of verbs, or derives adverbs from other lexical categories. Phrases can also be reduplicated.[3]

All lexical categories can have suffixes. On verbs, suffixes have many functions, such as marking semantic and grammatical relations, directionality and point of view. Suffixes on nouns mark plural number, genitive relation and pronominal possession. Nouns can be derived by adding suffixes to numerals and adjectives.[3]

Wandala also has limited prefixes for nouns and one infix. The vowel a acts as an infix in the verbal system to encode verb plurality.[3]


In the noun phrase, the head precedes modifiers, determiners and quantifiers.

The grammatical relations subject and object are distinguished, with distinct pronouns. However, lexical properties of verbs determine how the grammatical roles of nominal arguments are coded, with some verbs taking the controller as the unmarked argument, and others the affected entity.

A nominal object or nominal subject can occur after the verb, but cannot both occupy this position, so if they co-occur, one must be fronted. This encodes information structure such as topicalization, focus or switch-reference.


  1. ^ Wandala at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Wandala". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Frajzyngier, Zygmunt (2012). A grammar of Wandala. De Gruyter Mouton.
  4. ^ Wolff, H. Ekkehard. "'Vocalogenesis' in (Central) Chadic languages" (PDF). Retrieved 2 December 2017.