The Mushunguli - Chizigua language of Somalia

Mushunguli is the dialect of (originally Tanzanian) Chizigua (G.31) spoken by some of the Somali Bantu, on the lower Juba River in approximately 30 villages between (upper) Bandar Jadiid of Jubbada Hoose (0.326031°, 42.748339°) and Araara (0.030217°, 42.690139°). This description is based on the speech of Mohamed Ramedhan from Mogambo Bulo Dhimbulo (0.156147°, 42.72312°). Pre-war estimates put the number of speakers at around 25,000.

The language is not conventionally written, and as far as we are aware there are no grammatical descriptions of this language. (There is little material on Tanzanian Zigua for that matter: see Tanzania Zigua references for primary sources on that language). Conventions applied to the writing of various East African Bantu languages can and have been applied in presenting this material, with the goal of not omitting any important information while also not burdening the writing with obscure symbols, which we believe would be an impediment to expanding literacy in the language. Marking of tone and syllabicity is scientifically necessary, but may be dispensible for practical purposes – see the section on orthography for discussion.

This page is the product of continuing research on Mushunguli-Chizigua carried out at Ohio State University, and will change as the research progresses. The intended audience for this work includes both linguists (especially Bantuists), and people interested in learning about the language. Recorded examples are included in various points so that those interested in learning the language can gain some experience in the language's pronunciation. There are 5 main sections to this work. "Segments, Pronunciation, Orthography" lists the sounds of the language, gives recorded examples, and also discusses a way of spelling the language, which will generally be used here. "Phonology" discusses sound changes that affect the buildiong of words, for example the various pronunciations of the prefix ni- "it's a __". The section "Word Formation" explains how words are constructed, for example how singulars and plurals are formed and how adjectives agree with nouns. "Sentence Structure" explains how words are put together into sentences. Finally the section "Lexicon" lists some of the words that we have collected.

Because this is an on-going project, we are not always certain of certain intermediate results. This is especially so with lexical identifications, particularly flora and fauna identifications. The most current and reliable information will be contained in the (non-recorded) wordlists in the lexicon section.

Segments, Pronunciation, Orthography


Word Formation

Sentence Structure

Lexicon including  recorded samples.

Contact us.

References for Tanzanian Zigua (excluding unpublished or unavailable works)

Kenstowicz, Michael. 1989. Tone and accent in Kizigua - a Bantu language. in P.M. Bertinetto & M. Loporcaro (eds). Certamem phonologicum: papers from the 1987 Cortona Phonology Meeting, pp. 177-188. Torino: Rosenberg and Sellier.

Kenstowicz, Michael. & Charles Kisseberth. 1990. Chizigula tonology: the word and beyond. In S. Inkelas & D. Zec(eds) The phonology-syntax connection, pp. 163-194. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Kisbey, Walter H. 1896. Zigula exercises, compiled for the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa. London: Soc. for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK).

Kisbey, Walter H. 1906. Zigula-English dictionary, compiled for the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa. London: Soc. for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK). [Online via Google Books]

Kisseberth, Charles. 1992. Metrical structure in Zigula tonology. in D. Gowlett (ed.), African linguistic contributions, pp. 227-259. Pretoria: Via Afrika.

Meinhof, Carl. 1906. Linguistische Studien in Ostafrika, 9: Zigula. Mitteilungen des Seminars für orientalische Sprachen, III. Abt., v. 9, p. 284-293.

Mochiwa, Zakaria S.M. 2008. Kizigula lexicon. LoT (Languages of Tanzania) publ., #21. Dept. of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, Univ. of Dar es Salaam.

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