logo of woman with pounder Flag of United Kingdom Nederlandse vlag      

Cawyaŋ Zarma Sanni

map of the river Niger

Zarma language

Zarma, a Songhai dialect

Zarma is one of the important southern Songhai speech varieties ( Harrison et al., 1997). It is also referred to as Dyerma, Dyarma, Dyabarma, Zabarma, Adzerma, Djerma, and Zarbarma. Differences between dialects in Niger are relatively small and people with a different dialect as mother tongue will understand you as you speak Zarma. To give an example, in the Songhai-Kaado some words that in Zarma are pronounced with an f, are pronounced with an h, such as the Zarma word fu (house, home) is in Songhai-Kaado hu. In the dictionary different spelling and/or synonyms are given.

Zarma is spoken in Zarmaganda (arrondissement of Quallam) and the Zarmatarey (arrondissement of Kollo) in Niger, see map below.

Map of southwest Niger with areas with different Songhay speech varieties

Map with major southern Songhai dialects

Based on: Harrison et al., 1997, background map: Microsoft-Elsevier, 2001.

Number of Zarma speakers

In total 2,438,400 people speak Zarma of which 2,350,000 live in Niger (estimation Ethnologue, 2006). However, this estimate includes other Southern Songhai dialects.

Based on 1996 population figures Harrison et al. (1997) calculated that about 2,042,000 people spoke a Songhai dialect in Niger (about 23% of the total population) and about a 804,000 in the neighbouring countries. The number of speakers per dialect per country is given in the table below.

Populations of speakers of southern Songhai dialects
Dialect Mali Niger Burkina Faso Benin Nigeria
Songhai (W, E, C, K) 600,000
- -
Songhai - Kurtey - 44,100 - - -
Songhai - Wogo - 28,800 - - -
Zarma - 1,427,000 600 some 50,000
Dendi - 53,100 - 30,000 a few
W,E,C,K = Western, Eastern, Central, Kaado
Source: Harrison et al. (1997)


Site Search Site Search

Word with Ŋ or ŋ
Type first a &, then a #, and then the number 330 or 331 on the place of the letter concerned,
e.g.: &+#+330+wari = Ŋwari.

Word with Ɲ or ɲ
Type first a &, then a #, and then the number 413 or 626 on the place of the letter concerned,
e.g.: &+#+626+umay = ɲumay.



        disclaimer contact        
      Dico Fraters, the Netherlands © 2004-2016      
Last updated: 20 Januari, 2016