Hausa Language

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♡ Hausa Language ♡    2014/03/24 18:47




Hausa language


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Harshen Hausa هَرْشَن هَوْسَ
Native to Niger, Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Sudan, Togo
Region across the Sahel as a language of trade
Ethnicity Hausa people
Native speakers
35 million  (2007)[1]
18 million as a second language[citation needed]
Latin (Boko alphabet)
Arabic (ajami)
Hausa Braille
Language codes
ISO 639-1 ha
ISO 639-2 hau
ISO 639-3 hau
Areas of Niger and Nigeria where Hausa is spoken

This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.


Hausa (/ˈhsə/)[2] (Yaren Hausa or Harshen Hausa) is the Chadic language (a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family) with the largest number of speakers, spoken as a first language by about 34 million people, and as a second language by about 18 million more, an approximate total of 52 million people.[3] Hausa is one of Africa's largest spoken languages after Arabic, French, English, Portuguese and Swahili.




Hausa belongs to the West Chadic languages subgroup of the Chadic languages group, which in turn is part of the Afro-Asiatic language family.


Geographic distribution

Map showing the linguistic groups of Nigeria in 1979

Native speakers of Hausa, the Hausa people are mostly to be found in Niger in the north of Nigeria and Tchad, but the language is used as a trade language across a much larger swathe of West Africa (Benin, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Côte d'Ivoire etc.), Central Africa (Chad, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea) and northwestern Sudan, particularly amongst Muslims. Radio stations like BBC, Radio France Internationale, China Radio International, Voice of Russia, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, and IRIB broadcast in Hausa. It is taught at universities in Africa and around the world. The language is the most commonly spoken language in Nigeria, but unlike Yoruba and Igbo, it is also widely spoken outside Nigeria, especially in Niger Republic, Ghana, Cameroon & Sudan.



Traditional dialects

Eastern Hausa dialects include Kananci which is spoken in Kano, Bausanchi in Bauchi, Dauranchi in Daura, Gudduranci in Katagum Misau and part of Borno and Hadejanci in Hadejiya.

Western Hausa dialects include Sakkwatanci in Sokoto, Kutebanci in Taraba, Katsinanci in Katsina, Arewanci in Gobir, Adar, Kebbi, and Zamfara, and Kurhwayanci in Kurfey in Niger. Katsina is transitional between Eastern and Western dialects.

Northern Hausa dialects include Arewa and Arawci.

Zazzaganci in Zaria is the major Southern dialect.

The Kano dialect (Kananci) is the standard. The BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio France International and Voice of America offer Hausa services on their international news web sites using Kananci.

Northernmost dialects and loss of tonality

The western to eastern Hausa dialects of Kurhwayanci, Daragaram and Aderawa, represent the traditional northernmost limit of native Hausa communities. These are spoken in the northernmost sahel and mid-Saharan regions in west and central Niger in the Tillaberi, Tahoua, Dosso, Maradi, Agadez and Zinder regions. While mutually comprehensible with other dialects (especially Sakkwatanci, and to a lesser extent Gaananci), the northernmost dialects have slight grammatical and lexical differences owing to frequent contact with the Zarma and Tuareg groups and cultural changes owing to the geographical differences between the grassland and desert zones. These dialects also have the quality of being non-tonal or pitch accent dialects.

This link between non-tonality and geographic location is not limited to Hausa alone, but is exhibited in other northern dialects of neighbouring languages; such as the difference within Songhay language (between the non-tonal northernmost dialects of Koyra Chiini in Timbuktu and Koyraboro Senni in Gao; and the tonal southern Zarma dialect, spoken from western Niger to northern Ghana), and within the Soninke language (between the non-tonal northernmost dialects of Imraguen and Nemadi spoken in east-central Mauritania; and the tonal southern dialects of Senegal, Mali and the sahel).

Ghanaian Hausa dialect

The Ghanaian Hausa dialect (Gaananci), spoken in Ghana, Togo, and western Ivory Coast, is a distinct western native Hausa dialect-bloc with adequate linguistic and media resources available. Separate smaller Hausa dialects are spoken by an unknown number of Hausa further west in parts of Burkina Faso, and in the Haoussa Foulane, Badji Haoussa, Guezou Haoussa, and Ansongo districts of northeastern Mali (where it is designated as a minority language by the Malian government), but there are very little linguistic resources and research done on these particular dialects at this time.

Gaananci forms a separate group from other Western Hausa dialects, as it now falls outside the contiguous Hausa-dominant area, and is usually identified by the use of c for ky, and j for gy. This is attributed to the fact that Ghana's Hausa population descend from Hausa-Fulani traders settled in the zongo districts of major trade-towns up and down the previous Asante, Gonja and Dagomba kingdoms stretching from the sahel to coastal regions, in particular the cities of Tamale, Salaga, Bawku, Bolgatanga, Achimota, Nima and Kumasi.

Gaananci exhibits noted inflected influences from Zarma, Gur, Dyula and Soninke, as Ghana is the westernmost area in which the Hausa language is a major lingua-franca; as well as it being the westernmost area both the Hausa and Djerma ethnic groups inhabit in large numbers. Immediately west from Ghana (in Ivory Coast, Togo, and Burkina Faso), Hausa is abruptly replaced with DioulaBambara as the main lingua-franca of what become predominantly Mandinka areas, and native Hausa populations plummet to a very small urban minority.

Because of this, and the presence of surrounding Akan, Gur and Mande languages, Gaananci was historically isolated from the other Hausa dialects.[4] Despite this difference, grammatical similarities between Sakkwatanci and Ghanaian Hausa determine that the dialect, and the origin of the Ghanaian Hausa people themselves, are derived from the Northwestern Hausa area surrounding Sokoto.[5]

Hausa is also widely spoken by non-native Gur and Mande Ghanaian Muslims, but differs from Gaananci, and rather has features consistent with non-native Hausa dialects.


Other native dialects

Hausa is also spoken various parts of Cameroon and Chad, which combined the mixed dialects of Northern Nigeria and Niger Republic, French has made a great influence in the way Hausa is spoken by the native Hausa speakers.

Non-native Hausa

Native to Nigeria
Region Jega
Native speakers
Hausa-based pidgin
Language codes
ISO 639-3 gib

Non-native Hausa arises from Hausa's use as a lingua franca in West Africa. Non-native pronunciation vastly differs from native pronunciation by way of key omissions of implosive and ejective consonants present in native Hausa dialects, such as ɗ, ɓ and kʼ/ƙ, which are pronounced by non-native speakers as d, b and k respectively. This creates confusion among non-native and native Hausa speakers, as non-native pronunciation does not distinguish words like daidai ("correct") and ɗaiɗai (one-by-one"). Another difference between native and non-native Hausa is the omission of vowel length in words and change in the standard tone of native Hausa dialects (ranging from native Fulani and Tuareg Hausa-speakers omitting tone altogether, to Hausa speakers with Gur or Yoruba mother tongues using additional tonal structures similar to those used in their native languages). Use of masculine and feminine gender nouns and sentence structure are usually omitted or interchanged, and many native Hausa nouns and verbs are substituted with non-native terms from local languages.

Non-native speakers of Hausa numbered more than 25 million and, in some areas, live close to native Hausa. It has replaced many other languages especially in the North Central and North Eastern part of Nigeria and continues to gain popularity in other parts of Africa as a result of Hausa movies and musics which spread out throughout the region.

There are several pidgin forms of Hausa. Barikanchi was formerly used in the colonial army of Nigeria. Gibanawa is currently in widespread use in Jega in northwestern Nigeria, south of the native Hausa area.[7]




Hausa has between 23 and 25 consonant phonemes depending on the speaker.

Consonant phonemes
  Bilabial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
palatalized Plain labialized Plain palatalized
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless t t͡ʃ c k ʔ ʔʲ
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɟ ɡ ɡʷ
ejective t͡sʼ t͡ʃʼ kʷʼ
implosive ɓ ɗ
Fricative voiceless ɸ s ʃ h
voiced z
Trill r
Flap ɽ
Approximant l j w

The three-way contrast between palatalized velars /c ɟ cʼ/, plain velars /k ɡ kʼ/, and labialized velars /kʷ ɡʷ kʷʼ/ is found only before long and short /a/, e.g. /cʼaːɽa/ ('grass'), /kʼaːɽaː/ ('to increase'), /kʷʼaːɽaː/ ('shea-nuts'). Before front vowels, only palatalized and labialized velars occur, e.g. /ciːʃiː/ ('jealousy') vs. /kʷiːɓiː/ ('side of body'). Before rounded vowels, only labialized velars occur, e.g. /kʷoːɽaː/ ('ringworm').[8]

Glottalic consonants

Hausa has glottalic consonants (implosives and ejectives) at four or five places of articulation (depending on the dialect). They require movement of the glottis during pronunciation and have a staccato sound.

They are written with modified versions of Latin letters. They can also be denoted with an apostrophe, either before or after depending on the letter, as shown below.

b' / ɓ, an implosive consonant, IPA [ɓ], or sometimes [ʔb];

d' / ɗ, an implosive [ɗ], sometimes [dʔ];

ts', an ejective consonant, [tsʼ] or [sʼ] according to the dialect;

ch', an ejective [tʃʼ] (does not occur in Kano dialect)

k' / ƙ, an ejective [kʼ]; [kʲʼ] and [kʷʼ] are separate consonants;

'y is a palatalized glottal stop, [ʔʲ], found in only a small number of high frequency words. Historically it developed from palatalized [ɗ].



Hausa has 5 phonetic vowel sounds which are both single and long, giving a total of 10 vowel phonemes which are called Monophthongs and 4 joint vowel sounds that are called Diphthongs giving a total number of 14 vowel phonemes.

Monophthongs are:

Single Vowels :/a/, /e/, /i/, /o/ and /u/. Long Vowels:/aa/, /ee/, /ii/, /oo/, and /uu/.

Diphthongs are: /ai/, /au/, /iu/ and /ui/.



Hausa is a tone language. Each of its five vowels a, e, i, o and u may have low tone, high tone and falling tone.

For representing tones accented vowels may be used:

à è ì ò ù (low tone)

á é í ó ú (high tone)

â ê î ô û (falling tone)

In standard written Hausa, tone is not marked. However it is needed for disambiguation and thus it is marked in dictionaries and other scientific works.


Writing systems

Boko (Latin)

Hausa's modern official orthography is a Latin-based alphabet called boko, which was imposed in the 1930s by the British colonial administration.

A a B b Ɓ ɓ C c D d Ɗ ɗ E e F f G g H h I i J j K k Ƙ ƙ L l
/a/ /b/ /ɓ/ /tʃ/ /d/ /ɗ/ /e/ /ɸ/ /ɡ/ /h/ /i/ /(d)ʒ/ /k/ /kʼ/ /l/
M m N n O o R r S s Sh sh T t Ts ts U u W w Y y (Ƴ ƴ) Z z ʼ
/m/ /n/ /o/ /r/, /ɽ/ /s/ /ʃ/ /t/ /(t)sʼ/ /u/ /w/ /j/ /ʔʲ/ /z/ /ʔ/

The letter ƴ is used only in Niger; in Nigeria it is written ʼy.

Tone, vowel length, and the distinction between /r/ and /ɽ/ (which does not exist for all speakers) are not marked in writing. So, for example, /daɡa/ "from" and /daːɡaː/ "battle" are both written daga.


Ajami (Arabic)

Hausa has also been written in ajami, an Arabic alphabet, since the early 17th century. There is no standard system of using ajami, and different writers may use letters with different values. Short vowels are written regularly with the help of vowel marks, which are seldom used in Arabic texts other than the Quran. Many medieval Hausa manuscripts similar to the Timbuktu Manuscripts written in the Ajami script, have been discovered recently some of them even describe constellations and calendars.[9]

In the following table, vowels are shown with the Arabic letter for t as an example.


Latin IPA Arabic ajami
a /a/   ـَ
a //   ـَا
b /b/   ب
ɓ /ɓ/   ب (same as b), ٻ (not used in Arabic)
c //   ث
d /d/   د
ɗ /ɗ/   د (same as d), ط (also used for ts)
e /e/   تٜ (not used in Arabic)
e //   تٰٜ (not used in Arabic)
f /ɸ/   ف
g /ɡ/   غ
h /h/   ه
i /i/   ـِ
i //   ـِى
j /(d)ʒ/   ج
k /k/   ك
ƙ //   ك (same as k), ق
l /l/   ل
m /m/   م
n /n/   ن
o /o/   ـُ  (same as u)
o //   ـُو  (same as u)
r /r/, /ɽ/   ر
s /s/   س
sh /ʃ/   ش
t /t/   ت
ts /(t)sʼ/   ط (also used for ɗ), ڟ (not used in Arabic)
u /u/   ـُ  (same as o)
u //   ـُو  (same as o)
w /w/   و
y /j/   ی
z /z/   ز     ذ
ʼ /ʔ/   ع

Other systems

Hausa is one of three indigenous languages of Nigeria which has been rendered in braille.

At least three other writing systems for Hausa have been proposed or "discovered." None of these are in active use beyond perhaps some individuals.

  • A Hausa alphabet supposedly of ancient origin and in use in north of Maradi, Niger.[10]
  • A script that apparently originated with the writing/publishing group Raina Kama in the 1980s.[11]
  • A script called "Tafi" proposed in the 1970s(?)[12]

See also

External links



News and radio

BBC World Service Hausa – Based in London











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