The Info List - Hausa Language

Hausa (/ˈhaʊsə/)[3] (Yaren Hausa or Harshen Hausa) is the Chadic language (a branch of the Afroasiatic language family) with the largest number of speakers, spoken as a first language by some 27 million people, and as a second language by another 20 million. The ancestral language of the Hausa people, one of the largest ethnic groups in Central Africa, Hausa is commonly spoken throughout southern Niger
and northern Nigeria. It has developed into a lingua franca across much of Western Africa
Western Africa
for purposes of trade.


1 Classification 2 Geographic distribution

2.1 Dialects

2.1.1 Traditional dialects 2.1.2 Northernmost dialects and loss of tonality 2.1.3 Ghanaian
Hausa dialect 2.1.4 Other native dialects 2.1.5 Non-native Hausa

3 Phonology

3.1 Consonants 3.2 Glottalic consonants 3.3 Vowels 3.4 Tones

4 Writing systems

4.1 Boko (Latin) 4.2 Ajami (Arabic) 4.3 Other systems

5 See also 6 References 7 Bibliography 8 External links

Classification[edit] Main article: Afroasiatic languages Hausa belongs to the West Chadic languages
Chadic languages
subgroup of the Chadic languages group, which in turn is part of the Afroasiatic language family. Geographic distribution[edit]

The linguistic groups of Nigeria
in 1979

Native speakers of Hausa, the Hausa people, are mostly found in Niger, in the north of Nigeria, and in Chad. Furthermore, the language is used as a trade language across a much larger swathe of West Africa (Benin, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast
etc.), Central Africa (Chad, Central African Republic, Gabon) and in northwestern Sudan, and Some parts of Ethiopia
particularly amongst Muslims. It is widely spoken outside Nigeria, especially in Niger, Ghana, Cameroon
and Sudan. Dialects[edit] Traditional dialects[edit] Eastern Hausa dialects include Dauranchi in Daura, Kananci in Kano, Bausanchi in Bauchi, Gudduranci in Katagum
and part of Borno, and Hadejanci in Hadejiya. Western Hausa dialects include Sakkwatanci in Sokoto, 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 Zazzau
is the major Southern dialect. The Daura
(Dauranchi) and Kano
(Kananci) dialect are the standard. The BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale
and Voice of America offer Hausa services on their international news web sites using Dauranci and Kananci. In recent language development Zazzaganci took over the innovation of writing and speaking the current Hausa language use. Northernmost dialects and loss of tonality[edit] 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
Koyra Chiini
in Timbuktu
and Koyraboro Senni
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[edit] 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 Dioula–Bambara 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
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[edit] Hausa is also spoken various parts of Cameroon
and Chad, which combined the mixed dialects of northern Nigeria
and Niger. In addition, Arabic
has had a great influence in the way Hausa is spoken by the native Hausa speakers in these areas. Non-native Hausa[edit]

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In West Africa, Hausa's use as a lingua franca has given rise to a non-native pronunciation that differs vastly 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 music 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.[6] Phonology[edit] Consonants[edit] Hausa has between 23 and 25 consonant phonemes depending on the speaker.

Consonant phonemes

Bilabial Alveolar Post- alveolar Dorsal Glottal

front plain round

Nasal m n

Plosive/ Affricate implosive ɓ ɗ

voiced b d (d)ʒ ɟ ɡ ɡʷ


t tʃ c k kʷ ʔ


(t)sʼ (tʃʼ) cʼ kʼ kʷʼ

Fricative voiced


tenuis ɸ s ʃ




j; j̰



r ɽ

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').[7] Glottalic consonants[edit] 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.

ɓ / b', an implosive consonant, [ɓ], sometimes [ʔb]; ɗ / d', 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) ƙ / k', an ejective [kʼ]; [kʲʼ] and [kʷʼ] are separate consonants; ƴ / 'y is a palatal approximant with creaky voice, [j̰],[8] found in only a small number of high-frequency words (e.g. /j̰áːj̰áː/ "children", /j̰áː/ "daughter"). Historically it developed from palatalized [ɗ].[9]


Hausa vowel chart, from Schuh & Yalwa (1999:91). The short vowels /i, u, a/ have a much wider range of allophones than what is presented on the chart.

Hausa has five phonetic vowel sounds, which can be either short or long, giving a total of 10 monophthongs. In addition, there are four joint vowels (diphthongs), giving a total number of 14 vowel phonemes.

Monophthongs Short (single) vowels: /i, u, e, o, a/. Long vowels: /iː, uː, eː, oː, aː/.

In comparison with the long vowels, the short /i, u/ can be similar in quality to the long vowels, mid-centralized to [ɪ, ʊ] or centralized to [ɨ, ʉ].[10] Medial /i, u/ can be neutralized to [ɨ ~ ʉ], with the rounding depending on the environment.[11] Medial /e, o/ are neutralized with /a/.[11] The short /a/ can be either similar in quality to the long /aː/, or it can be as high as [ə], with possible intermediate pronunciations ([ɐ ~ ɜ]).[10]

Diphthongs /ai, au, iu, ui/.

Tones[edit] Hausa is a tonal language. Each of its five vowels may have low tone, high tone or falling tone. In standard written Hausa, tone is not marked. In recent linguistic and pedagogical materials, tone is marked by means of diacritics.

à è ì ò ù – low tone: grave accent (`)

â ê î ô û – falling tone: circumflex (ˆ)

An acute accent (´) may be used for high tone, but the usual practice is to leave high tone unmarked. Writing systems[edit] Boko (Latin)[edit] Hausa's modern official orthography is a Latin-based alphabet called boko, which was introduced 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 R̃ r̃ S s Sh sh T t Ts ts U u W w Y y ( Ƴ ƴ) Z z ʼ

/m/ /n/ /o/ /ɽ/ /r/ /s/ /ʃ/ /t/ /(t)sʼ/ /u/ /w/ /j/ /ʔʲ/ /z/ /ʔ/

The letter ƴ (y with a right hook) 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)[edit] 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 in ajami, similar to the Timbuktu
Manuscripts, have been discovered recently; some of them even describe constellations and calendars.[12] In the following table, vowels are shown with the Arabic
letter for t (ت) as an example.

Latin IPA Arabic

a /a/   ـَ‬

a /aː/   ـَا‬

b /b/   ب‬

ɓ /ɓ/   ب‬ (same as b), ٻ‬ (not used in Arabic)

c /tʃ/   ث‬

d /d/   د‬

ɗ /ɗ/   د‬ (same as d), ط‬ (also used for ts)

e /e/   تٜ‬ (not used in Arabic)

e /eː/   تٰٜ‬ (not used in Arabic)

f /ɸ/   ف‬

g /ɡ/   غ‬

h /h/   ه‬

i /i/   ـِ‬

i /iː/   ـِى‬

j /(d)ʒ/   ج‬

k /k/   ك‬

ƙ /kʼ/   ك‬ (same as k), ق‬

l /l/   ل‬

m /m/   م‬

n /n/   ن‬

o /o/   ـُ‬  (same as u)

o /oː/   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 /uː/   ـُو‬  (same as o)

w /w/   و‬

y /j/   ی‬

z /z/   ز‬     ذ‬

ʼ /ʔ/   ع‬

Other systems[edit] Main article: Hausa Braille 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.[13] A script that apparently originated with the writing/publishing group Raina Kama in the 1980s.[14] A script called "Tafi" proposed in the 1970s(?)[15]

See also[edit]

portal Niger
portal Languages portal

Hausa people History of Niger History of Nigeria Kanem Empire Bornu Empire Bayajidda


^ Hausa at Ethnologue
(19th ed., 2016) ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Hausa". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ Bauer (2007), p. ?. ^ Njas.helsinki.fi ^ Ethnorema.it ^ Gibanawa at Ethnologue
(17th ed., 2013) ^ Schuh & Yalwa (1999), p. 91. ^ Hausa ejectives and laryngealized consonants. Sound files hosted by the University of California at Los Angeles, from: Ladefoged, Peter: A Course in Phonetics. 5th ed. Thomson/Wadsworth. ^ Newman, Paul (1937/2000) The Hausa Language: an encyclopedic reference grammar. Yale University Press. p. 397. ^ a b Schuh & Yalwa (1999), pp. 90–91. ^ a b Schuh & Yalwa (1999), p. 90. ^ Verde, Tom (October 2011). "From Africa, in Ajami". Saudi Aramco World. Retrieved 2014-05-25.  ^ "Hausa alphabet" ^ Hausa alphabet from a 1993 publication ^ Hausa alphabet from a 1993 publication


Bauer, Laurie (2007). The Linguistics Student’s Handbook. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-2758-5.  Schuh, Russell G.; Yalwa, Lawan D. (1999). "Hausa". Handbook of the International Phonetic Association. Cambridge University Press. pp. 90–95. ISBN 0-521-63751-1.  Charles Henry Robinson; William Henry Brooks; Hausa Association, London (1899). Dictionary of the Hausa Language: Hausa–English. The Oxford University Press. 

External links[edit]

Hausa edition of, the free encyclopedia

Find more aboutHausa languageat's sister projects

Definitions from Wiktionary Media from Wikimedia Commons Travel guide from Wikivoyage Data from Wikidata

Hausa language
Hausa language
at Curlie (based on DMOZ) Omniglot Hausa Language Acquisitions at Columbia University Libraries Hausa Vocabulary List –World Loanword Database Hausa Dictionary at University of Vienna Hausar Yau Da Kullum: –Intermediate and Advanced Lessons in Hausa Language and Culture

v t e

West Chadic languages


Gwandara Hausa



Ɓeele Bole Bure Daza Deno Galambu Gera Geruma Giiwo Karekare Kubi Ngamo Maaka Pali


Dera Kholok Kushi Kutto Kwaami Nyam Pero Piya-Kwonci Tangale


Cakfem-Mushere Goemai Chakato (Jorto) Koenoem Kofyar Jibyal Miship Nteng Montol Mwaghavul Ngas Belneng Pyapun Tal


Bokkos Daffo-Butura Duhwa Fyer Kulere Mundat Sha Shagawu Tambas





Auyokawa Bade Duwai Ngizim Shira Teshenawa


Ajawa Ciwogai Diri Kariya Mburku Miya Pa'a Siri Warji Zumbun



Dass Geji Polci Saya Zari Zeem


Guruntum-Mbaaru Ju Tala Zangwal


Boghom Jimi Jum Kir-Balar Mangas



Italics indicate extinct languages

v t e

Languages of Chad

Official languages

French Arabic

Indigenous languages

Bagirmi Chadian Arabic Daza(ga) Hausa Kanembu Maba Ngambay Sara

v t e

Languages of Niger

Official language


National languages

Arabic Buduma Fulfulde Gurma Hausa Kanuri Songhai Tassawaq Toubou Tamajeq Zarma

Other languages

Air Tamajeq Chadian Arabic Daza Kaado Tamahaq

v t e

Languages of Nigeria

Official languages


National languages

Hausa Igbo Yoruba

Recognised languages

Efik-Ibibio Isoko Edo Tiv Fulani Idoma Ijaw Kanuri

Indigenous languages

Indigenous languages (ordered by state)


Baa Bacama Bali Bata Boga Bura Chamba Leko Daba Daka Donga Fali of Mubi Ga'anda Gaa Gude Gudu Holma Huba Hwana Hya Kamwe Kanakuru Kirya-Konzəl Kofa Koma Kpasam Kugama Kumba Lamang Longuda Margi Margi South Mumuye Ngwaba Nyong Nzanyi Psikyɛ Sukur Taram Teme Tso Vere Waja Wom Yendang Zizilivakan

Akwa Ibom



Ɓeele Bole Bure Ciwogai Dass Dazawa Deno Dikaka Dulbu Galambu Gera Geruma Giiwo Guruntum Jalaa Jarawa Jimi Karekare Kariya Kir-Balar Kubi Kushi Kutto Kwaami Labir Longuda Mangas Mawa Mburku Miya Pa'a Piya Polci Shiki Siri Sur Tso Warji Zangwal Zumbun


Izon Epie Urhobo-Isoko Southeast Ijo


Eggon Igede


Afade Bura Cibak Cineni Dghwede Glavda Gude Guduf-Gava Gvoko Jara Jilbe Kamwe Kanakuru Lamang Maaka Mafa Margi Margi South Nggwahyi Putai Tera Wandala Yedina

Cross River

Abanyom Efik Mbe Mbembe


Urhobo-Isoko Ika Izon


Afenmai Ishan Bini


Awak Bangwinji Bole Dadiya Jara Kamo Ngamo Pero Tangale Tera Tula Waja


Bade Teshenawa


Bacama Cori Eggon Kurama Sambe


Ɗuwai Kurama


Cipu Damakawa


Basa-Benue Igala Nupe Oworo


Kakanda Kupa Nupe


Ake Alumu Basa-Benue Duhwa Eggon Hasha Jili Toro


Asu Bariba Cipu Gwandara Jijili Kakanda Nupe Pongu


Itsekiri Izon Ukaan


Barkul Boghom Bole Cakfem-Mushere Dass Fyam Fyer Goemai Horom Jorto Koenoem Kofyar Kulere Miship Montol Mundat Mwaghavul Ngas Pe Pyapun Ron Sha Sur Tal Tambas Tarok Yankam Yiwom


Abua Baan Biseni Defaka Degema Ekpeye Eleme Engenni Gokana Ijaw Ikwerre Kalabari Khana Kugbo Nkoroo O’chi’chi Obolo Obulom Odual Ogba Ogbogolo Ogbronuagum Ogoni Okodia Oruma Tee Ukwuani-Aboh-Ndoni


Baissa Fali Bete Buru Dadiya Donga Kholok Kpati Laka Lufu Mumuye Nyam Nyingwom Pangseng Rang Tarok Waja Waka Yendang Yoti


Bade Bole Ɗuwai Karekare Ngamo Ngizim

Sign languages

Nigerian Sign Language Bura Sign Language Hausa Sign Language


Pan-Nigerian alphabet Nigerian braille Medefaidrin

Authority control

LCCN: sh85059313 SUDOC: 02744015X BNF: cb119481090 (data) N