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     :
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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