Ethnologue divides Kanuri into the following languages, while many linguists (e.g. Cyffer 1998) regard them as dialects of a single language. The first three are spoken by ethnic Kanuri and thought by them as dialects of their language.

Written Kanuri

Kanuri has been written using the Ajami Arabic script, mainly in religious or court contexts, for at least four hundred years.[5] More recently, it is also sometimes written in a modified Latin script.


A standardized romanized orthography (known as the Standard Kanuri Orthography in Nigeria) was developed by the Kanuri Research Unit and the Kanuri Language Board. Its elaboration, based on the dialect of Maiduguri, was carried out by the Orthography Committee of the Kanuri Language Board, under the Chairmanship of Abba Sadiq, Waziriof Borno. It was officially approved by the Kanuri Language Board in Maiduguri, Nigeria, in 1975.[6]

Letters used : a b c d e ǝ f g h i j k l m n ny o p r ɍ s sh t u w y z

  1.  Kanuri at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Central Kanuri at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Manga Kanuri at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Tumari Kanuri at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Bilma Kanuri at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Kanembu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Jump up^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). “Kanuri”Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Jump up^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
  4. Jump up^
  5. Jump up^ Archived 2006-11-08 at the Wayback Machine..
  6. Jump up^ Dictionary of the Kanuri language. Norbert Cyffer, John P. Hutchison, 1990. ISBN 90-6765-412-4]
  7. Jump up^ According to alphabet kanuri — arrété 213-99 de la République du Niger (Chantal Enguehard – Université de Nantes) the letter schwa used in Kanuri is encoded in Unicode with U+01DD instead of U+0259, and its uppercase is Ǝ U+018E instead of Ə U+018F.
  8. Jump up^