Songhay, Koyraboro Senni


A language of Mali

Alternate Names
East Songhay, Gao Songhay, Koyra Senni, Koyra Senni Songhay, Songai, Songay Senni, Songhai, Songhay, Songoi, Songoy, Sonrai, Sonrhai

430,000 (2007 SIL), increasing. 300,000 monolinguals (2007 SIL). Ethnic population: 850,000.


Gao region: Gao town area along Niger river; Tombouctou region: Niafunké to Niger border.

Language Status

5 (Developing). Recognized language (1982, Decree No. 159 of 19 July, Article 1).


Gao, Fulan Kirya. Intelligibility good among all dialects on Niger River. Fulan Kirya dialect has more limited intelligibility through heavy lexical borrowing from Fulfulde [ffm] and Humburi Senni Songhay [hmb]. The Gao dialect is dominant in all respects. Lexical similarity: 77% with Gao and Timbuktu dialects; 50% with Tadaksahak [dsq].


SOV; nontonal.

Language Use

Used by all. Positive attitudes. Also use Bamanankan [bam], French [fra], Tamasheq [taq]. Bilingualism is not extensive (1999 J. Heath).

Language Development

Actively promoted by the government through adult literacy classes and as the language of instruction at the primary level in some experimental schools. Some French literacy. Taught in primary schools. Literature. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 2014.


Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Muslim, traditional religion.

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