Fula or Fulani is a member of the Senegambian branch of the Niger-Congo language family spoken by about 13 million people in many parts of West Africa. It is the first language of the Fulɓe (Fula/Fulani), who live mainly in West Africa, and also in Central and North Africa. Fula is also spoken as a second language by others in the region. Fula speakers can be found in Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gambia, Chad, Sierra Leone, Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan, Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Liberia and Gabon.
There are a number of different ways to write Fula in the different countries where it is spoken. Most use the Latin alphabet, but the Arabic script has also been used, as has a script called Adlam, which was invented in the 1980s in Guinea.
The Arabic script (Ajami) was adapted to write Fula after the Arabic conquests of Africa.
ه, ء, خ, ف, ق, ذ, ز, ص, ض, ظ and ق are used only in Arabic loanwords.
The Latin alphabet was introduced to Fula-speaking regions by European missionaries, colonial administrators and scholars. They devised a number of ways to write Fula. Some of the current conventions used in Fula writing were established at a conference on African language orthographies held in Bamako in Mali in 1966. There are still variations in the spelling of Fula between different countries however.
The alphabet used in Mali and Burkina Faso is the same as the above except ñ is written ɲ. The alphabet used in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Chad is as above except ñ is written ny. In Guinea ɲ is used for [ɲ] and there is one more letter: Ɠ ɠ [ɠ].
Download Fula alphabet charts (Excel)
Information about Fula alphabets supplied by Michael Peter Füstumum
Innama aadeeji fof poti, ndimɗidi e jibinannde to bannge hakkeeji. Eɓe ngoodi miijo e hakkilantaagal ete eɓe poti huufo ndirde e nder ɓ iynguyummaagu.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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