What’s Up Now?

The previous post gave a lengthy account of the history of my lexicographical work. The stage I am involved in now, being about halfway through, is the final edit of the Mampruli Dictionary

  • The Dagbani Dictionary was in some sense wished upon me. It has the largest wordlist, the longest history of development, the largest number of compilers, and the largest text base for the provision of examples [Mampruli has more types of text, but with the whole Bible published Dagbani has the larger size]. In working through it I met most of the possible situations and problems for this sort of lexicon and developed micro- and macro-structures to deal with them.  The other languages can now be edited to conform to the Dagbani pattern or a subset of it.
  • The dictionaries of Mõõré, KaMara, Kantoosi, Talni and Nabit were edited to limited Dagbani standard (few or no citations).
  • Mampruli is the last Western Oti-Volta (W.O/V) language lexicon where my data and competencies are fairly irreplaceable if something of this calibre is to be produced at the present time.
  • For the remaining W.O/V languages I will not have any significant independent data to input, but will rather be editing other people’s material to match the format of the above dictionaries. Inserting the thesaurus keys will be the most important part for my own concerns. As each dictionary is completed I extract the basic wordlist with thesaurus keys and merge it into the growing comparative dictionary database. In order to complete the comparative work according to the intended plan all the language dictionaries will need to be merged in and the database processed for suitable output.
  • Whether my mental and physical powers will hold up until the whole is completed is a moot point.

As the Mampruli Project unrolled between 1974 and 2004, the dictionary was built up, first on filecards and later as an electronic database. From time to time during the years I was working on the Dagbani Dictionary I snatched a little time to work on a few Mampruli entries. The result of this piecemeal updating is that formatting both across and within entries showed a wild variety of ‘legacy’ approaches.  To lighten the packing load at the end of my time of residence in Ghana I collated in the contents of one tray of filecards, covering letters P – Z, and jettisoned that half of the cards. So what I am doing now involves:

  • Working through the dictionary one entry at a time in order from A  to  Z .
  • Formatting the existing entry according to the final entry-structure that I have developed.
  • Adding any necessary fields which are missing, especially thesaurus keys and ‘lexical functions’ – links in meaning such as between synonyms, or antonyms, causatives (like ‘fall’ and ‘fell’), and a number of other sense-relations.
  • Searching for examples of the word in use, and for any words not yet in the database:
    • In the remaining cardfile – oral material noted down during my 30-year stay in Gbeduuri.
    • In the published New Testament and other Bible material.
    • In the Collection of Mampruli proverbs collected by R.P. Xavier Plissart and in course of editing by TN.
    • In the published texts of the Mampruli Literacy Project.
    • In some of the oral texts which I recorded and transcribed in the course of studying the language.
  • Pruning and adding cross-reference entries directing searches for variants and oblique forms (similar to ‘men’ of “man”, ‘brought’ of “bring”).

Starting at the beginning of 2015, I hoped to complete the Mampruli in two years. In fact I have carried this process to halfway before the end of October, so am fairly happy with progress.  I estimate that the total number of entries will be about 7000 (currently 6944, but they go up and down with pruning and adding). I have now reached #3502. Main entries will make up 2600-odd if the ratio of main to cross-refs. stays the same. In the ‘published’ version I would include variants and irregular forms (like ‘went’ of “go”) which would project at 5200.

A digital ‘printout’ of the present stage with the first half basically completed has been posted on my technical website :  Aardvarks Mampruli[Divided into 4 files Mampruli-English, one English – Mampruli index, because of file-size constraints]

Revival of the Blog

As will have been apparent I’m not really a blogger: lexicographic work doesn’t have frequent exciting leaps forward — hence Sam Johnson’s ‘Harmleſs Drudge’ quip. But I am now trying to make the distinction between this blog and the technical website where I make available the dictionaries and some of my related linguistic studies :  Aardvarks Lexico. A schematic diagram summarising this long, rambling post can be seen here.

I have reached a pause-point in the editing of the Mampruli Dictionary and this seems a stage where I might put the the whole enterprise in context.

When I went to Ghana Joe Grimes was leading a workshop on Discourse, based on his book ‘The Thread of Discourse’  Thread of Discourse.

  • While in Ghana Grimes was also collecting word-lists of vocabulary in the Ghana languages in connection with an ahead-of-its-time project for a comparative database of the languages of the world.  The plan was to use the data from Summer Institute of Linguistics researchers round the world and the computer facility of the University of Oklahoma (remember that at that time ‘a computer’ filled a 4-storey building and had about the computing power of the non-smart phone in your pocket). Joe was working on algorithms to make it possible to compare vocabulary items by phonetic template, grammatical function and/or meaning, pairwise or in subsets of languages.
  • After he left Grimes wrote (no phones or e-mails in those days, folks!) to ask me to collect more and better wordlists of the Ghana languages as the samples available off-the-peg in 1973 were very tentative preliminary survey data.
  • Having started collecting, I then heard that the project fell through for lack of funding, but I had already invested some time and got hooked on the interest of comparative lexicography.

Meanwhile we had received our primary assignment, to study and help in the development of the Mampruli language (1974) and settled in the village of Gbeduuri in the Northern Region of Ghana.

  • The state of knowledge before this process started can be seen in Swadesh, Mauricio /Evangelina Arana/John T.Bendor-Samuel/W.A.A.Wilson 1966. A preliminary glottochronology of Gur languages. J.W.A.L. III (1): pgs 27-65    see:  facsimile page
  • In 1975 we received a book by Gabriel Manessy, the French scholar who was the main expert on the Gur group of languages to which most of those we were working on in northern Ghana belong. He also had wordlists (though not much new data since Swadesh) : Manessy, Gabriel 1975. Les langues Oti-Volta. Paris : SELAF  see:  facsimile page

Manessy also suggested historical developments and relationships of the languages and reconstructed ancestral forms as etymological formulae,   see :  facsimile page

  • On the basis of these earlier studies, I made a focus on the Western Oti-Volta subgroup of these languages which includes Mampruli and many of the neighbouring tongues. My main field dictionary of Mampruli was built up as I and my colleagues (primarily Margaret Langdon in 1974-6 and Tony Pope from 1977-82) worked on the language, on 6 x 4″ light cards, written in pencil and filed in the then-iconic shoeboxes, see  facsimile card . In odd moments of time I was also collecting entries into a series of mini slip-files, paper slips 3 x 2″. (Arthur Hokett, neighbouring Texan missionary of the Assemblies of God Church, had off-cut strips from reducing the USA-sized paper he had brought from home to the imperial sizes then standard in Ghana). You can see instances of these little slips :  facsimile slips .

The Western Oti-Volta languages (W.O/V) that I aimed to cover were (grouped approximately be closeness of relationship, not by alphabetic or geographical criteria):

KaMara,  Hanga,  Mampruli,  Dagbani,  Nanun,  Talni,  Nabit,  Kusaal (Toende),  Kusaal (Agole),   Mõõré,  Nõõtré,  Farefare,  Ninkããré,  Waali,  Dagaari,  Birifor,  Safaliba.  I also collected data in closely-related Oti-Volta language Buli and, when it was ‘discovered’, Kɔnni . At an even later stage Kantoosi was added to the list of W.O/V (at the beginning of the above list).

  • The concept which I developed as a goal was a comparative dictionary of these languages, primarily keyed to a concept and arranged semantically – thus an entry showing the word for ‘sun’ in all the languages would be grouped with an entry for ‘moon’ and one for ‘star’, and so on. Reference to individual concepts would be facilitated by an alphabetic index. I have made a sample entry to show the idea. For the semantic keys I developed a Thesaurus based on work by Philip Hewer and originally published as a hard-copy booklet of keys referenced by English words and arranged in a semantic framework with letter and number indices. This looked like facsimile Thesaurus page.  The items and thesaurus structure were partly based on our understanding of the vocabulary of the north-Ghanaian languages we were working on, and the hope was that with colleagues completing thesauri in the various languages the ‘emic’ nature of the schema could be refined (unfortunately this did not materialise through lack of take-up). As a comparative dictionary this approach would detect related (‘cognate’) words where the relationship was obscured in alphabetical wordlists because of slight semantic change in one language or another, or even just different glossing-choices by the investigators.
  • In order to publicise the project and try to get data and collaboration from colleagues, I started producing ‘Lexinotes’ which exemplified, with commentary, entries for a group of concepts (such as words for ‘water-features’ [river, lake, well, swamp …]).  I kept swinging to and fro between taking one word and finding it in wordlists of all the languages one by one, and compiling the comparative dictionary from the wordlists and extracting the individual entries ready-formed from that. Because progress on the different languages was patchy and time limited, I tended to use the first alternative for the Lexinotes and similar studies, but later on changed focus to the second option.  The Lexinotes were duplicated piecemeal in a limited edition and mostly do not survive.  Some digitalised examples can be seen on the website.
  • At the end of the 1970s Manessy published a comparative study of all the Central Gur languages [Manessy, Gabriel 1979. Contribution à la classification généalogique des langues voltaïques : – le proto-central. Paris : SELAF] . Over the next 30 years in dribs and drabs I made a manuscript compilation of all Manessy’s proto-forms, then a digital database, added my own less-firmly-based summary forms where Manessy’s data were inadequate, and finally a database keyed to the thesaurus headings from which relevant ‘etymologies’ could be added to the entries in the dictionaries of the individual languages and the comparative dictionary. An example can be seen in the comparative sample entry (in green).

A major change in all of our lives came in the 1990s with the introduction of computers and digital processing.  On the one hand this offered very powerful help to lexicographical work, in terms of making copies and backups of materials, safe from fire, flood and termites,  and in facilitating alphabetisation, searching, cross-linking and other valuable tools.  On the other hand for projects like mine which were already somehow advanced in manuscript form there was the prerequisite of keyboarding large swathes  of data, with no advances possible until it was done.

  • In my case I am still transcribing handwritten slips and cards from the best part of forty years ago.

Also the rapid advances of computing meant that existing work had constantly to be updated and converted for new computer systems, applications, storage media and protocols.

  • In order to maintain continuity/compatibility with material from earlier phases of the project I have to maintain formats which were designed to cope with the inability of earlier hardware (processing, cacheing and file-storage limitations) and software (earlier applications or versions of applications) to handle multi-word items or items containing (certain sorts of) punctuation in sorting and linking tasks.
  • The Unicode standard is an immense leap forward for all work in world languages, but again I am still finding myself referring to files which need to be converted from legacy ASCII work-arounds for the representation of the orthographies and phonetics of Ghanaian languages. The sample comparative dictionary entry drew some data from an earlier attempt which turned out to be in ‘Ghana Doulos’ ASCII font and needed manual conversion to integrate with the entry from the final (hopefully) database which I am currently using [whoops! just discovered there is already a unicode-converted version – such is life in this disorganised project!].

In this Brave New World the aim was to make lexical databases with the SIL ‘SHOEBOX’ application which is widely-used for this sort of work. The minimalist markup means that the data files can be read and edited in a plain text editor if need be. The programs designed to work with them allow the ordinary user to specify the display formatting, while geeks can readily make scripts to convert the basic form to other markup systems where required.

Such time as was available for the dictionaries work (translation and publishing of Mampruli Scripture – first Luke’s Gospel, then Genesis-Exodus 20, finally the New Testament (2001) – was mainly devoted to keyboarding and converting manuscript texts and wordlists to usable digital forms.

During the transition period from primary involvement with the Mampruli Project to working as a translation consultant for a number of the Ghana languages, a defining moment was August 2004. I was in Tamale having moved out of Gbeduuri and not yet being able to move into our new residence near Techiman. At this time

  • I received the TOOLBOX program, the new incarnation of SHOEBOX.
  • The final version of the Dagbani Dictionary (as a table in MS WORD) was passed on to me.
  • I was urged to carry the Dagbani lexicographic project further.

By the time I had assimilated and converted to these new materials and goals, the Dagbani Bible and Fr. Kofi Ron Lange’s collection of Dagbani Proverbs were  published (both 2006) and I had access to the electronic files of both, partly with a view to noting possible corrections for future editions.

  • Basically, from 2004 to 2014 I was engaged on the Dagbani:
    • working through the Dagbani Bible and inserting examples from the text into the entries in the TOOLBOX dictionary database.
    • adding thesaurus keys, lexical functions and other missing fields when an example was inserted in a record.
    • refining the entry structures to make as easy as possible the entry and retrieval of the content that I felt was important. These principles were then intermittently used for other dictionary databases that came my way, most particularly Agole Kusaal, where I was acting as consultant to the Old Testament Translation team from 2001 to 2013.
    • One aim which I have not yet fully implement was to produce a tailored set of ‘lexical functions’ less complex than those of Igor Meɫčuk and his collaborators, but more suited to my needs that those provided by the Multi-Dictionary Formatter of David Coward and Chuck Grimes [son of the Joe E. with whom this saga started]  which works with the TOOLBOX program.
    • During the latter part of this period I worked through the whole Dagbani database in alphabetical order bringing all the entries into uniformity with the finally-adopted format.
  • With one or two side-excursions (producing a restricted-entry Mõõré dictionary in 2012, for instance) I completed this process by the end of 2014 and consider my involvement with the Dagbani effectively completed. The dictionary is published on the website.

*REMINDER :: A schematic diagram summarising this long, rambling post can be seen here.

Mampruli — view from the letter ‘B’

Work on the Mampruli Dictionary has reached halfway (maari•2  “wetting”).

This is 3500 fully-edited entries (some very long, some just cross-references [the figure is 2294 out of 5515 main entries]) out of a total so far of just over 6900 (so far — during editing some few are added and some few are removed).  A further 1650 have had some editing done this year.

To celebrate, I’ve put the current stage up on the website


It had to be divided into 5 parts because it has pictures and the file was too big to upload.

Below you can see the partially-written introduction and samples of the beginning pages of both the Mampruli entries and the English index.




  1. Introduction
  2. Location of the Mamprusi People
  3. The Mampruli Language
  4. Using the Dictionary
  5. Heading here
  6. Heading here
  7. Heading here
  8. Other LexiquePro Dictionaries from GILLBT
  9. Bibliography

1. Introduction

The Mampruli Dictionary In Electronic Form.

Tony Naden [G.I.L.L.B.T.]

This Dictionary database:

Mampruli is one of the major languages of northern Ghana, with a significant number of first-language speakers (maybe around a quarter of a million or more). It is spoken in the north east quadrant of the Northern Region of Ghana.  There are a number of anthropological studies of  Mamprusi culture, notably those by Susan Drucker Brown (note that her linguistic material is not reliable).

Very little formal lexical  material was available in the earlier period apart from representation in wordlists and surveys (e.g. Swadesh et al. 1966).  The  ethnic group and its language were very much under the shadow of the  much larger Dagomba / Dagban(l)i complex, although the head town of the original British Northern Territories protectorate was at Gambaga in Mampurugu.

When I started  work in the area I was given a  typewritten  wordlist by the medical missionaries of the Baptist Medical Center at Nalerigu which was a help in getting started. There was also the work of  Swadesh, Arana and  Drucker Brown which was a tour de force  –   a Mampruli-Spanish-English  dictionary compiled in three weeks!  Remarkable not for the fact that it was done well but that it was done at all.

The present corpus is almost entirely based on my own work, even where items are also mentioned in other sources.

Written resources include the New Testament and Plissart’s collection of proverbs (Plissart 1983) and Readers for the Mampruli literacy graduates published by Mamprint, Gbeduuri, and GILLBT, Tamale, 1982-2001.  Major contributors were R.T.Abudulai, Salifu Philip Jangdow, Salifu Wundow and John Yakubu Takora.

Status : as indicated above this is work in progress. Records or fields with a \nt field containing ?? are known to need further checking. From P to Z there has been much more improvement bringing in citations and other material from the main slip file. A-ŊM awaits this treatment. Other material also may be in need of correction or supplementation.

The structure of entries still largely remains to be brought into the pattern which has been developed for the Dagbani dictionary view Dagbani.

Specimens of the current stage apper below: a full version Dictionary in its of the latest ‘printout’ can be seen online Mampruli Dictionary

Any contributions from users of this preliminary form are earnestly invited: send to me at

GILLBT, P.O.Box TL378, Tamale, N/R


“Lost Marbles”, 31, Reading Road, Pangbourne, RG8 7HY, U.K.

or email     :   lostmarbles31@gmail.com
Legal status : Many people have contributed to this work so we do not ‘own’ it in the sense of a book which we have written. On the other hand an enormous amount of our own work has gone into researching the forms and meanings and putting the materials into usable form.  We therefore encourage you to use and share this material freely, and parts may be quoted for normal purposes of scholarly research and debate, with acknowledgement. No charge may be made for sharing this Dictionary or any publication which is based wholly or in part on this Dictionary without consulting me or ADLP at the above GILLBT address.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Citation/Acknowledgement: “GILLBT Mampruli Dictionary, work in progress: consulting editor Tony Naden: Tamale, N/R, Ghana : GILLBT”

Tamale: 29th. November 2007

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2. Location of the Mamprusi People

[One speaker is a Ŋmampuriga (Ŋmampuridoo/Ŋmampuripɔ’a)

Many speakers are Ŋmampurisi.  The language is Ŋmampurili or Ŋmampulli

The home territory is Ŋmampurigu ]


Like most Ghanaian peoples, many Mamprusi nowadays live outside the traditional area, in the cities.

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3. The Mampruli Language


The Mampruli or Ŋmampurili language is spoken in a broad  belt across the northern parts of the Northern Region of Ghana, stretching west to east from Yizeesi to Nakpanduri and centred on the towns of Gambaga/Nalerigu and Walewale.

The language belongs to the Gur family which is part of the great block of Niger-Congo languages which cover most of Africa south of the Sahara (Bendor-Samuel 1989). Within Gur it belongs to the Western Oti-Volta subgroup, and particularly its southeastern cluster of six to eight languages (Naden 1988, 1989). Closely-related and very similar languages spoken nearby are Dagbani,  Nanun1,  KaMara and Hanga, and Kusaal, Nabit and Talni in the Upper East Region. Not quite so closely-related are Farefare, Waali, Dagaari, Birifor and Safalaba in the Upper East and West Regions and southwest of the Northern Region.

Most Ghanaians speak several languages, and many people of the Northern and Upper East regions can understand a little Mampruli or the closely-related Dagbani. As a group with a larger population some Mamprusi may only speak Mamprulii and one or more of the languages of wider communication Hausa, English or (Asante) Twi. Many others will know the language(s) of the neighbouring people who adjoin their own area or have settled near them in numbers.

Government policy has varied over the years as to whether the local Ghanaian language should be extensively used in early education or whether ultimate performance in the international language will be enhanced by concentrating on English. The comparative lack of quantity and variety of literature, and of teachers trained in using the Ghanaian language, means that even when mother-tongue primary education is in favour it is difficult to teach it, and in it, effectively.

Various agencies are involved in promoting adult literacy and related development issues, notably the Ghana Government’s Division (?) of Non-Formal Education, and the Mampruli Literacy Project of G.I.L.L.B.T.

1 The Nanumba people have more or less ceased using their own language and now speak eastern Dagbani with a distinctive accent.

**  Until a grammar of the language specifically oriented to dictionary users is completed, you may be interested in a simple, non-technical grammar sketch prepared for learners of the language (part of Naden et al. n/d (1970s onward)).  [Click here to see Grammar]

Sounds and Spellings

(Phonology and Orthography)

** Until a summary of spelling matters specifically oriented to dictionary users is completed, you may be interested in  the full  orthography and spelling-rules booklet.  [Click here to see booklet]

Structure of Words


Structure of Sentences


Types of Text


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4. Using the Dictionary


Talking About the Parts of the Dictionary

  • Headword

The word that you want to look up

  • Keyword, Lexeme

Other names for headword. In Edit view this is marked\lx  for ‘Lexeme’

  • Main entry (\mn)  

The basic or more normal form, go to this entry to see details. So if you looked up English “went” you would be sent to the main entry “go”

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5. Heading


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6. Heading


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7. Heading


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8. Other LexiquePro Dictionaries from GILLBT

We aim to share our ongoing lexical research in Ghanaian languages in LexiquePro format. Available now {December 2007}:–

Dagbanli     :     Tony Naden [ed.]

Deg (Mo)      :     Pat Herbert/Tony Naden [eds.]

Konkomba     :     Mary Steele [ed.]

Kusaal            :     Tony Naden [ed.]

Sisaala (Tumu)      :     Regina Blass, J./M. Frempong [eds.]

Vagla      :     Marj Crouch/Pat Herbert [eds.]

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9. Bibliography

Published Lexical Materials and Sources:

Naawuni Kunni Palli 2001: Mampruli New Testament. Tamale : GILLBT/WBT.

Naden, Tony 1974. An outline thesaurus for North-Ghanaian languages. Tamale,N.R.(Ghana) : Institute of Linguistics. || – reprint without index : Tamale 1980

Dakubu, M.E. Kropp / E.K.Osam [eds.]    2003.    Studies in the Languages of the Volta Basin.    Legon : Linguistics Dept., Uni. of Ghana

Naden, Tony    1980.  [and various editions and printings since]    Mampruli Spelling Guide:  for teachers, writers, Bible translators and others.    Gbeduuri, N/R : Mamprint

Naden, Tony [ed.] 1997. Mampruli Vocabulary / Ŋmampulli Yɛla. Gbeduuri, N.R. Mamprint (mimeo)

Naden, Tony    2003.    Principles and Problems in Gur Lexicography.   in  Dakubu/Osam [eds.] 2003 : 222-236

Plissart, Xavier 1983. Mampruli Proverbs. Tervuren : Musée Royale de l’Afrique.

Swadesh, Mauricio /Evangelina Arana/John T.Bendor-Samuel/W.A.A.Wilson    1966.    A preliminary glottochronology of Gur languages.    in   J.W.A.L. III (1)  : 27-65

Unpublished and electronic Lexical Resources:

B.M.C.    1969(?).    “B.D.”  : English-Mampruli Dictionary prepared by the missionaries ofthe Baptist Medical Center, Nalerigu.Typescript
Plissart, Xavier    1970s    Corpus of 4000 Mampruli Proverbs.    2 typescripts.  About ⅔ published in Plissart 1983.

Other Works on (or including) the Mamprusi people and Mampruli language


Barker, Peter 1986. Peoples, languages and religion in Northern Ghana – a preliminary report. Accra : Asempa / G.E.C. [New edition in prep., proposed title “40 Northern Ghana Peoples”

Bendor-Samuel, John T. [ed.] 1989 The Niger-Congo Languages. Lanham, MD : University Press of America

Dakubu, Mary Esther Kropp [ed.] 1977. West African langage data sheets I. n/p : W.A.L.S.

Dakubu, Mary Esther Kropp [ed.] 1988, The languages of Ghana. London : Kegan Paul International for I.A.I. /W.A.L.S.

Dakubu, M.E. Kropp / E.K.Osam [eds.] 2003. Studies in the Languages of the Volta Basin. Legon : Linguistics Dept., Uni. of Ghana

Dakubu, M.E. Kropp / E.K.Osam [eds.] 2004. Studies in the Languages of the Volta Basin 2. Legon : Linguistics Dept., Uni. of Ghana

Dakubu, M.E. Kropp / E.K.Osam [eds.] 2005. Studies in the Languages of the Volta Basin 3. Legon : Linguistics Dept., Uni. of Ghana

Naden, Anthony J. 1982. Class pronoun desuetude revisited. JWAL XII (1) :34-42

Naden, Tony 1980. ‘Siamese twins’ in Mampruli phonology. Afr. Marburgensia XIII (1) : 52-57

Naden, Tony 1982- Western-Oti/Volta Lexinotes.     [unpublished :  comparative studies of specific lexical fields]

Naden, Tony 1986. Western Oti/Volta pronoun systems. in Ursula Wiesemann [ed.]   Pronominal systems. Tübingen : Günther Narr : 249-275

Naden, Tony 1988.a     review_ of Plissart 1983.     JALL 10 (1) : 93-101

Naden, Tony 1988.b Gur languages. in Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu [ed.] 1988  :  12-49

Naden, Tony 1989. Gur. in J.T.Bendor-Samuel [ed.] 1989 : 141-168

Naden, Tony 1996.a Ancestor non-worship amongst the Mamprusi. LEXICOS 6 : 71-203

Naden, Tony 1996.b Time and Calendar in Mampruli. in Naden [ed.] 1996 : 25-42

Naden, Tony 2003.b Identification and classification: articles in Mampruli and friends. [MS – GILLBT Academic Seminar]

Naden, Tony 2004.a.     The Top of the Folk Taxonomy.     in Dakubu/Osam [eds.] 2004: 55-74

Naden, Tony 2005.a     Three cheers for the red, white and black.    in Dakubu/Osam [eds.], 2005 : 173-192

Naden, Tony 2005.b Sentence Perspective In Mampruli.     unpublished Study paper in connection with ‘Between Tone and Text’ : Conference on Gur Languages, Bayreuth, October 2005

Naden, Tony 2006.a Verb-to-nominal derivation in Mampruli and friends. Gur Papers/Cahiers Voltaïques : 787-94

Naden, Tony 2006.b Descriptives : adjectives in Mampruli.    [paper at NUFU Colloquium, Legon, Jan,. 2006]

Naden, Tony 2007 in prep .Purpose in Mampruli. [for GILLBT Academic Seminar 2008]

Naden, Tony 2007 forthc. Recipes for Cooking Up Communication in Mampruli. [paper at NUFU Colloquium, Legon, Jan,. 2007]

Naden, Tony (with Margaret A.Langdon and Tony G.Pope) n/d (1970s onward). Speaking and hearing Mampruli. Gbeduuri, N.R. : Mamprint

Naden, Tony [ed.] 1996.a Time and the calendar in some Ghanaian languages. Tamale / Legon : GILLBT / I.A.S. [Notes on Language and Culture 4]

[and references in many works on Mampruli and Western Oti/Volta]

Osbiston, Rachel M. 1974. Labialization and palatalization in Mamprule. Paper at XI Congress of W.Afr. Languages, Yaoundé (mimeo.)
Plissart, Xavier    1983.    MampruliProverbs.    Tervuren  :  Musée Royale de l’Afrique
Wilson, W.A.A. 1971. Class pronoun desuetude in the Mõõré-Dagbani subgroup of Gur. JWAL VIII (2) : 79-83

Cultural and Historical

Davis, David C. 1979, Themes in the history of Dagbong and Mampurugu. unpub. – Northwestern Univ.

Davis, David C. 1992. “They sing our origins.” : a study of the lungsi drummers of Mampurugu. African Music 7(2) :58-71

Drucker Brown, Susan 1967. Mamprusi political organisation. Paris : CNRS-CRVS Colloque sur les cultures voltaïques.

Drucker Brown, Susan 1967. Introduccion Etnografica / Anthropological Introduction. in Swadesh / Arana 1967 : 15-21/23-28

Drucker Brown, Susan 1975. Ritual aspects of Mamprusi kingship. Leiden / Cambridge : Afrika-Studiecentrum / African Studies Centre

Drucker Brown, Susan 1981. The structure of the Mamprusi kingdom and the cult of naam.     in Henri Clässen / Peter Skalnik [eds.] The study of the state. Paris : Mouton : 117-131

Drucker Brown, Susan 1982. Joking at death : the Mamprusi grandparent-grandchild joking relationship. Man(n.s.) 17 : 714-727

Drucker Brown, Susan 1989. Mamprusi installation ritual and centralisatiion: a convection model.. Man (N.S.) 24  :  485-501

Drucker Brown, Susan 1995. The court and the kola nut: wooing and witnessing in northern Ghana. JRAI (N.S.) 1  :  129-143

Drucker Brown, Susan 2001. House and hierarchy: politics and domestic space in northern Ghana. J.R.A.I. (n.s.)7  :  669-685

Drucker Brown, Susan/ Rachel Nayler 1992/3. The content and context of Mamprusi “solima”. Cambridge Anthropology 16 : 61-77

Iliasu, A.A. n.d.. The establishment of British administration in Mampurugu 1898-1937.     Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana 9 :119-120

Iliasu, A.A. 1970. Mampurugu: the oral traditions of its peoples. Legon : History Dept. – unpublished paper

Lance, James M. 1987. Colonial law, “customary” law, and Mamprusi litigants. Research Review (n.s.) 3(1)

MacKay, C.F. n.d.. A short essay on the history and customs of the Mamprusi tribe. mimeo. : GNA Accra/Tamale acc. 1521

Masters, D. 1955. Economic survey, Kpasingpe and Dindane in the South Mamprusi district. unpub. MS in Balme Library

Naden, Dianne / Tony 1991. Polygyny: further factors from Mamprusi. AA 93(4) : 948-950

Naden, Di / Tony     2003. Community involvement in orthography design. in Dakubu/Osam [eds.] 2003 :: 218-221

Naden, Tony 2003.a     Greeting a Chief and other matters. in Kröger/Meier [eds.] 2003 : 313-326

Naden, Tony 1996. Ancestor non-worship amongst the Mamprusi. LEXICOS 6 : 71-203

Schlöttner, Michael 1991. Herrschaft und Religion bei den Mamprusi und Kusasi im Nordosten von Ghana. Paideuma 37 : 141-159

Some Dictionaries in Other North Ghanaian Languages

Blass, Regina [ed.] 1975. Sisaala-English/ English-Sisaala Dictionary. Tamale, N.R. : Ghana Institute of Linguistics || second edition 2002. Tamale, N.R. : Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation

Crouch, Marjorie / Patricia Herbert [eds.] n/d (1981). Vagla – English / English – Vagla dictionary. Tamale, NR : GILLBT || second edition 2001. Tamale, NR : GILLBT

Dakubu,M.E.Kropp / S.Awinkene Atintono / E.Avea Nsoh [eds.] 2007. Gurenɛ-English Dictionary // English-Gurenɛ Glossary [2 Vols.] Legon : University of Ghana Linguistics Dept.

Kröger, Franz [ed.] 1992. Buli-English Dictionary. Münster/Hamburg : e Lit [Forschungen zu Sprachen und Kulturen Afrikas. [ed.R.Schott] – Band 1]

Langdon, Margaret A. / Mary J.Breeze [eds.] n/d (1981) Konkomba-English / Likaln-Likpakpaln Dictionary. Tamale, N.R. : GIL

Mahama, Ibrahim [ed.] 2003. Dagbani-English Dictionary. Tamale, N/R : School for Life

Spratt, David / Nancy [eds.] n/d. A Short Kusaal-English Dictionary. Tamale : I.L. (_now GILLBT_) || second edition 2001. Tamale, NR : GILLBT

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Mampruli – English


a   pn. they, them [non-human] [third person inanimate plural unmarked pronoun]. Note: (inanimate or non-human plural pronoun – pl. of ‘it’) ba ziiri la zaasim maa n-kunni la yiri ni na nti pɔri n-tu dibsi n-nyɔ a ka a moaai. they carry the fish home and bend them round and skewer them on sticks to smoke until they are brown. [R.T. Abudulai : Zaasim] halli ka a ti kuui wa’aiwa’ai ka i va n-su kusɔkku ni until they (groundnuts) are thoroughly dry and you gather them up and put them in a basket. [R.T. Abudulai : Koobu] Yisa daa gyiligi tinsi maa zaa ni a tinkpansi nti yiisi wa’azu. Jesus went round all the towns and their villages to preach. [LUK 8:1] n nin wurim n napaari wa ni m buya zaa ka takki m-mɛ bunkara ka a gaari a I will knock down all my grain-stores and replace them with bigger ones. [LUK 12:18] Sim:\~ka 3 ‘[sg.]’; an1 ‘[emphatic]’; anŋɔ ‘[demonstrative]’; ba1 ‘animate’. See:\~a-; ana; anŋɔ.

a-   px. of-them [non-human]. See: a.

aba-   num. (number) of (non-humans). abayoobu six of them. See: a-; baba-.

abada   adv. forever. Note: usually in the Colloc: halli abada. Naawunni bɛ ni halli abada God lives forever. zuna zaŋŋi n kyɛnna halli abada now and forever. [ISA 9:7] From: (Ha.) < (Ar.). Note: (har) abadan < أبدا Note: ‘abda

abala   num. how many of them? Note: ‘them’ being inanimate Boroboro abala ka ya mara? How many (loaves of) bread have you got? [MAT 15:34] See: aba-; babala; lala; wula.

abanu   num. five of them. Abigyeela daa doaai yoomayooma n-la’asi paanu kpila kɔbsiyi ni wain kɔlɔba boosiri abayi ni peesi abanu Abigail got up quickly and collected 200 rounds of bread and 2 bottles of wine and five sheep. [1SA 25:18] See: aba-; -nu.

abayi   num. two of them. Abigyeela daa doaai yoomayooma n-la’asi paanu kpila kɔbsiyi ni wain kɔlɔba boosiri abayi ni peesi abanu Abigail got up quickly and collected 200 rounds of bread and 2 bottles of wine and five sheep. [1SA 25:18] abayi muna – ba zaŋŋi ana n-yigra as for two of them (wings) – those: they used for flying with. [ISA 6:2] See: aba-; -yi.

abayɔpɔi   Variant: abayɔpɔin. num. seven of them. Abayɔpɔi ka ti mara We have seven of them. [MAT 15:34] See: ba-; -yɔpɔi.

abe   n. a palm nut. 4. Abe kpaam. 4. Palm-oil. [Vitamin.019-20] Note: in list Colloc: abe tiiya ‘oil-palm tree’. Elaeis guineensis. (ba) daa mari abe tiisi wula ba nuusi ni. (they) had palm branches in their hands. [REV 7:9] From: Twi.

aburabi   n. a pineapple. Syn: birigi2, laafi. From: Twi?.

adakka   Pl: ada’asi. Variant: adakkadima. n. 1 • a box. Yoaam adakka maa! Open the box! Sugri wa daa mari salima teebuli… ni nangbanyinni yɛla adakka gba This tent holds the golden table … and also the covenant box. [HEB 9:4] Sim: kpaalli ‘cardboard box’; Colloc: kum2 adakka ‘a coffin, ‘casket’ [Am.]’. (ba daa) zaŋŋi u n-niŋi kum adakka puuni they put him in a coffin. [GEN 50:26] Colloc: adakka nyariŋŋu ‘(Noah’s) Ark [Bible]’. Bunvuya kam zaa ban vuusiri la daa kyɛnni Nuhu saani na n-kpeeri adakka nyariŋŋu maa puuni, ba bayiyi ‘Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark’. [GEN 7:15]

2 • a table (as a formatting device). n sɔbi la adakaseaa n dooli bɛni ka tiseaa maa zaa yuya bɛ bɛni I have drawn a table of the names of all the trees. [TreesBA.087] From: (Port) < (Latin). Note: arca See: kpaalli.

adandani   Pl: adandanidima. n. a pregnant woman. Note: ? Adandani seaa ku danni goaa. A pregnant woman’s ‘waist’ won’t lean against a thorn-tree. (Proverb).

adda   n. a cutlass. Sim: suuwa; Syn: karɛnti. From: Twi.

addiini   Pl: addiinidima. n. religion, religious. Niriba ti ya n-dɔli la addiini soori ka niriba ti nya People will follow religious ways to be seen by others. [2TI 3:5] Colloc: musulinsi addiini ‘Islamic religion’; addiini zaaligudima ‘religious rules’. U nin ti boori u takki ba addiini zaaligudima ni ba kyuusi He will want to change their religious rules and their festivals. [DAN 7:25] From: (Ha.) < (Ar.) < (Heb.). Note: addini < ﺍﻟﺪﻴﻦ Note: ad din < דין

addu   excl. jocko! Note: pet name of, or call to, monkey

adiiku   Pl: adiikodima. n. a bag, bundle, luggage. Manboora nin zi n adiiku maa. Manboora will carry my luggage. Sim: neemni. From: (Ha.). Note: adiko “handkerchief, headkerchief

aduuwa   n. 1 • prayer, offertory. Note: Muslim prayer-ceremony involving gifts from those soliciting prayers to the affadima who say the prayers Aduuwa kpa la talaasi ŋti ma. Formal prayer is important to me. Wawa’alli Lumaam kyɛ na ni u niŋi aduuwa the Imam of Walewale came and performed a prayer ceremony. [Sarazu : Farm Palaver 04] din saha ya nin bɔ aduuwa ŋɔn nyɛ seelli then you will have to find whatever is the (fee for) the prayer ceremony. [SRV5 : Funerals] Ba nin ŋma ligri kyeengyi nti susi aduuwa ka tisi yuunyuumniba. They will change some money to have the prayer-ceremony conducted and to give to the singers. [R.T. Abudulai : Naaba]

2 • a contribution, donation at a funeral. Colloc: X d’aduuwa ‘X’s contribution’. From: (Ha.) < (Ar.). Note: addu’a < الدعأ Note: ad du’ a’

affa   See main entry: alifa. mallam.

afirɔ   n. ‘Afro’. Note: street-wise fashion I yi sɔ afirɔ ka ka sɛlɔriga, i nin lɔ la gbana. If you wear afro-style but don’t have a belt you will have to improvise a leather one. (‘tie skins’). [Plissart : Proverb #1494] From: (Eng.).

agaya   n. by chance. Note: ? Di yi niŋi agaya ka u kyɛ na. If it happens he came. From: ?.

agazeeri   n. the harvest season. Note: “when the dry season wants to come, beans are being picked, millet heads ripening” (AH) u tiri ya saa, ka tiri ya agazeeri saha m-paasi He (God) gives you rain, and also gives you the harvest season. [ACT 14:17] Gen: dawaari, saha; Sim: dawaligu, kikaa2, seoo, sigri, takaari, wuunni. From: (Ha.). Note: agazaari

agogo   n. a wrist watch. From: (Ha.).

agoo1   excl. ‘knocking’. Note: call to show one wants attention – southern Ghanaian Colloc: Ya agoo! ‘’Knocking’ y’all!’. Note: expecting several people to be at home Sim: gaafara. From: ??. Note: southern Ghanaian

agoo2   n. fabric [sp.], velvet. ba ku daari ba situra – kyinkyina an nyɛ faalafaala, agoo, ni taaru they won’t buy their garments – fabrics which are ‘fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth’. [REV 18:12]

agusu   n. Agusu. Note: social office Na’akyimma gba mari ba naama kamaan na’akyinnaaba, gɔmna, waanaaba, agusu, gumbenaaba, seedaana, sɛkɛtiri ni salimangya. The young men also have officers such as Young Men’s Chief, Governor, Dance Chief, Agusu, Gumbe Chief, Sedaana, Secretary, and Salmanja. [R.T. Abudulai : Naaba 012]

agbadeeya   Pl: agbadeeya. n. a soya bean. Glycine max. Note: ? Pɔ’aba pukpaasigu nyɛ la agbadeeya koobu. Women’s farming is soya bean cultivation. From: ?.

agbaa   n. noon, zenith. Kuriga piiyanaayi n nyɛ agbaa saha. Twelve o’clock is noon. u daa laa n-yi na agbaa saha he came out again at noon. [MAT 20:5] wubga daa yigri saazugu agbaa ziiya an ‘eagle’ was flying in the zenith of heaven. [REV 8:13] wuntaŋŋa yakki agbaa ni the sun has passed noon/the zenith. From: ?.

agyufa   See main entry: gyɛfa 1. pocket.

ah   excl. ah! Ka ya kyɛnni na ni ya deaai ya ligri? Ah! And you’re coming to collect your money? Oh! [Spider Story 013] U kparigu maa nla. Ah! Asee, mooni bunkɔbbeoo n gbaai Yisifu n-ŋɔbi! It is his shirt. Ah! A wild animal must have caught Joseph and eaten him! [GEN 37:33]

English – Mampruli

A – a

abandoned wife   n. pɔ’aziiliŋŋa

abdicate   v. yeaai

ability   n. nyaŋŋinsim

abound   v. gbigi
v. bugi2

abounding   v.n. gbigbu

about   n.pl. yɛla

above   n.loc. saazugu

above, up   n. zugsaa

abroad   pr.n. tuuri7

absent (to be ~)   v. ka4

absolutely   id. kyappi
excl. kyap

abundant   adj. -gbaliŋŋu

abundant s   adj.pl. -gbalima

abundantly   adv. bayaana
adv. kyisigimam
adv. fisi

abuse   v. tu1

abusing   tuuri5

acacia   n. goorigu

acacia, thorntree   n. goaa

accept   v. sakki

acceptance   gyeensi

accident   n. saraatii

accompany   v. dɔli

accounting   n. laasaabu

accuse   v. sam

accuse secretly   v. figsi

accusing   samni1

accusing secretly   v.imv. figsiri

ache   v. zabi
v. yaai1

aching   v.imv. yaari

Achiri   n. Akyiri

acre   n. eeka

act   v. tum2

Adam’s apple   n. lɔngoaa
n.pl. lungɔ’a

add   v. paasi1
v. lamsi

add on   v. tugi

add to   v. tugsi

add!   v!. paasima
v!. paasim

adding   v.imv. paasira
v.n. lamsigu
v.imv. paasiri

adequate   adj. -sa’asiga

adhesion   v.n. tabligu

admire   v. nyɛlim

adulterer   n. dɔgoorli

adulteress, prostitute   n. pɔ’agoolli

adulterous woman   n. pɔ’agoorli

adultery   pɔ’agootiri
n. pɔ’agoorim

adultery, fornication   n. zina

adulthood   n.coll. kpamni

advice   n. saawara
n. kpaamni

advise   v. kpaam
v. kyeesi
v. kpansi

advisement   v.n. kpansigu

advising   v.imv. kyeesira
v.imv. kpaamni
v.imv. kyeesiri
v.n. kyeesigu

adze   n. leefu

adzes   n.pl. leena
n.pl. leemi

aeroplane, ‘airplane’ [Am.]   n. aliplee

afflict   v. namsi
v. wum
v. mugsi1

afflicting   v.imv. namsiri

affliction   v.n. namsigu

afflictions   n.pl. namsi

afford   v. nyaŋŋi

after   n. nyaaŋŋa1

after (place or time)   n. nyaaŋŋa1

afternoon prayer   n. azafari

again   adv. yaasa
ptc. naa2
ptc. laa1
ptc. yaa3

agama   n. baŋŋa2

agamas   n.pl. bansi

age-group   n. saara

agile   adj. -valiŋŋu

agile s   adj.pl. -valima

agitate sth   v. sugli

agnate   n. burli
n. bulli

agnates   n.pl. bura

agony   adv. laalaata

agree   v. sakki

agree PF   v.pf. sakkiya

agreeing   v.imv. sakkiri

agreement   v.n. gbaari
n. nangbanyinni

agriculture   n. pukpaasigu

Agusu   n. agusu

ah!   aah
excl. ah
excl. aa

aim   v. tuusi
v. 2

aim at   v. danni

aimlesness   n. fa’am

aimless   adj. -barimni
adj. -bariŋŋa

air   n. pɛsiŋŋu

akpeteshie   n. akpɛtaasi
n. dapeelli

alarum   n. baŋumaŋŋa
n. bafarintuuwa

alb   n. bulimusuu

albino   n. lagyeaa

alertness   n.coll. sikka

Alhajji   n. alaagyi