Kunama

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A language of Eritrea

Alternate Names
Baada, Baaden, Baaza, Baazayn, Baazen, Bada, Baden, Baza, Bazen, Cunama, Diila
Population

187,000 in Eritrea (2006), increasing. Population total all countries: 194,430.

Location

West, Gash and Setit rivers, Sudan border; Barka south of Barentu; Marda north, northeast, and east of Barentu and in Barentu; Aimara west of Barentu; Laki-Tukura south of Aimara, west of Barka; Tika south of Laki-Tukura, west of Barka.

Language Status

4 (Educational).

Dialects

Aymasa (Aaimasa, Aimara, Odasa), Barka (Berka), Bitama (Bitaama), Ilit (Iiliit, Iilit, Iliit), Marda, Sokodasa (Sogadas, Sogodas), Takazze-Setiit (Setiit, Setit), Tigray, Tika (Lakatakura-Tika, Tiika). Bitama and Ilit are nearly unintelligible to other Kunama dialect speakers. Barka is largest and is intelligible to speakers of all others.

Typology

SOV; postpositions; case suffixes.

Language Use

Home. All ages. Positive attitudes. Used as L2 by Bilen [byn], Nara [nrb].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: Females: 21%. Literacy rate in L2: Low. Taught in primary schools. Poetry. New media. Radio programs. Videos. Dictionary. Bible: 2012.
Writing

Latin script [Latn], used since late 1800s.

Other Comments

Laka-Takura and Tika have been influenced by Arab culture and by the Beni-Amer. Traditional religion, Muslim (Bitama), Muslim (Ilit).