Songhay, Koyra Chiini


A language of Mali

Alternate Names
Songai, Songay, Songhai, Songhay, Songhoy, Songoi, Songoy, Sonrai, Sonrhai, Timbuktu Songhoy, West Songhoy

200,000 (1999 SIL), increasing.


Far northeast Ségou Region, Niono circle, northeast to Niger river; Timbuktu Region, all circles.

Language Maps
Language Status

4 (Educational).


Djenné Chiini, Koyra Chiini. Main dialect division between Timbuktu and the upriver towns from Diré to Niafunké. Very distinct in Djenné City. Closely related languages: Koyraboro Senni Songhay, Humburi Senni Songhay, Zarma, and Dendi. Lexical similarity: 77% with Gao and Timbuktu dialects, 50% lexical similarity with Tadaksahak [dsq].


Kaado (Zarma dialect in Niger) is SOV, West Songhay SVO. Djenné Chiini phonology, lexicon, basic inflection almost identical to Koyra Chiini, but syntax (especially relativization and focalization) very different; Djenné has 7 vowels to 5 for Koyra Chinni (1999 J. Heath); Kaado has 3 tones, West Songhay no tones

Language Use

All ages. Positive attitudes. Timbuktu has more prestige than other West Songhoy dialects. In Timbuktu some also use French [fra], Tamasheq [taq], or Hassaniya Arabic [mey]; in Djenné most also use French, Bamanankan [bam], or other languages.

Language Development
Taught in primary schools. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 1936.
Latin script.
Other Comments

Muslim, traditional religion.