Sisaala Languages

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The content of this page was developed from the data and technical notes of Steven Moran.


There are four Sisaala languages spoken in the Upper West Region of northwestern Ghana and in the adjoining areas of southern Burkina Faso: Western Sisaala, Sisaala Tumulung, Sisaala Pasaale, and Sissala. This section aims to disambiguate these four languages, which because of different levels of unidentified mutual intelligibility, have been historically considered dialects of one Sisaala language. More investigation is needed to establish the exact nature of the continuum between the languages and the possibility of a fifth Sisaala language.

Sisaala Western

Sisaala Western, or Western Sisaala, is spoken in Lambussie and surrounding villages in the Upper West Region. Lambussie is the central point of the language, and is where the majority of its speakers, including their Chief, live. There are approximately 10,000 speakers of this language. Speakers of Western Sisaala cannot communicate with Sisaala Tumulung speakers, but they do recognize certain words. Lambussie Sisaalas refer to the Sisaalas of Burkina Faso as their 'brother Sisaalas' and can understand their language well. Mr. Moran's documenation efforts constitute the first language materials for Sisaala Western.

Sisaala Tumulung

Sisaala Tumulung is unquestionably the largest of the Sisaala languages, with sources indicating over 100,000 speakers in Ghana. Spoken in the 'Sissala district' in the Upper West Region in which the city of Tumu is located, Sisaala Tumulung has several alternative names including: Sisai, Issala, Hissala, Sisala Tumu and Isaalung. The literature on Sisaala Tumulung includes two dictionaries, a phonology, several papers and native speaker materials.

Sisaala Pasaale

Sisaala Pasaale, the second largest Sisaala language, is spoken in the Upper West Region of Ghana in about 18 villages that lie 80km south of Tumu and 105km east of Wa. There are approximately 26,000 to 30,000 speakers. Alternative names include: Pasaale, Funsile and Southern Sisaala. The literature on Sisaala Pasaale includes a grammar and pedagogical materials such as primers.

Sissala of Burkina Faso

Sissala is spoken by 13,000 people in Burkina Faso's Sissili province in 30 villages between Léo and Hamale. This makes it the smallest of the four Sisaala languages as referenced in the Ethnologue. Sissala is closest to Western Sisaala and is not mutually intelligible with Sisaala Tumulung. The literature on Sissala includes several linguistic papers and a dictionary.

Follow the path of the Sisaala Data

  1. Get started: Summary of the Sisaala conversion
  2. Digitize Text: Text section (Classroom)
  3. Create a Database: XML section (Classroom)
  4. Digitize Audio: Audio section (Classroom)
  5. Digitize Video: Video section (Classroom)
  6. Register Metadata: Metadata section (Classroom)

User Contributed Notes
E-MELD School of Best Practices: Sisaala Languages
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