World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Fula alphabets


Fula alphabets

The Fula languages (Fula: Fulfulde or Pulaar or Pular) are written primarily in a Latin alphabet, but in some areas is still written in an older Arabic alphabet called the Ajami alphabet.


  • Latin alphabets 1
    • Background 1.1
    • Orthography 1.2
    • Alphabets by country 1.3
      • Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania 1.3.1
      • Guinea 1.3.2
      • Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia 1.3.3
      • Mali, Burkina Faso 1.3.4
      • Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad 1.3.5
  • Arabic (Ajami) alphabet 2
  • Adlam alphabet 3
  • Other scripts 4
  • References 5

Latin alphabets


The Latin script was introduced to Pular-speaking regions of West and Central Africa by Europeans during, and in some cases immediately before, colonization. Various people – missionaries, colonial administrators, and later during the colonial period, scholarly researchers, devised various ways of writing the Pular language they encountered. One issue similar to other efforts by Europeans to use their alphabet and home orthographic conventions to write African languages with unfamiliar sounds was how to represent the implosive b and d, the ejective y, the velar n (the latter being present in European languages, but never in initial position), prenasalised consonants, and doubled vowels (the latter being as significant in Pular for meaning as tone differences are in other languages).

Major influences on the current forms used for writing Pular were decisions made by colonial administrators in Northern Nigeria and the Africa Alphabet. A major conference on African language orthographies held in Bamako in 1966 confirmed this trend.

Nevertheless, orthographies for the language and its variants are determined at the country level. So while Pular writing uses basically the same character sets and rules (such as for doubling vowels), there are some variations.


Some general rules:

  • Vowels
    • Long vowels are doubled
    • Two different vowels are never used together
  • Consonants
    • To accentuate a consonant, double the consonant (or write " ' " before the consonant. Example, "temmeere" = "te'meere".)

Alphabets by country

Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania

a, aa, b, mb, ɓ, c, d, nd, ɗ, e, ee, f, g, ng, h, i, ii, j, nj, k, l, m, n, ŋ, ñ, o, oo, p, r, s, t, u, uu, w, x, y, ƴ


Version 1: a, b, ɓ, nb, d, ɗ, e, f, g, ɠ, ng, h, i, j, nj, k, l, m, n, ɲ, ŋ, o, p, r, s, t, c, u, w, y, ƴ
Version 2 (with keyboard-ready characters): a, b, bh, nb, c, d, dh, nd, e, f, g, ng, gn or ny, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, w, y, yh
Matching the two versions: bh = ɓ (as in bheydugol); dh = ɗ (as in dhuytugol); q = ɠ (as in qaagnagol, or qermugol); gn or ny = ɲ (as in gnaamugol or nyaamugol); yh = ƴ (as in yhettugol). Note: As native speakers of Pular from Fuuta Jalon, we are unable, so far, to find words that use the ŋ and nj characters.

Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia

a, b, ɓ, c, d, ɗ, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, mb, n, nd, ng, nj, ŋ, ñ, o, p, r, s, t, u, w, y, ƴ, '

Mali, Burkina Faso

a, aa, b, mb, ɓ, c, d, nd, ɗ, e, ee, f, g, ng, h, i, ii, j, nj, k, l, m, n, ŋ, ɲ, o, oo, p, r, s, t, u, uu, w, x, y, ƴ

Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad

a, aa, b, mb, ɓ, c, d, nd, ɗ, e, ee, f, g, ng, h, i, ii, j, nj, k, l, m, n, ŋ, ny, o, oo, p, r, s, t, u, uu, w, x, y, ƴ

Arabic (Ajami) alphabet

The Arabic script was introduced into the West African Sahel with Islam several centuries before European colonization. As was the case with other languages such as Hausa, Muslim Fulas who went through Koranic education adapted the script to writing their language. This practice, while never formally standardized, followed some patterns of customary use in various regions. These usages differ on some details, mainly on how to represent certain consonants and vowels not present in the Arabic language.

Adlam alphabet

During the late 1980s an alphabetic script was devised by the brothers Ibrahima Barry and Abdoulaye Barry, in order to represent the Fulani language. After several years of development it started to be widely adopted among Fulani communities, and is currently taught at schools in Guinea, Nigeria, Liberia and other nearby countries. The name Adlam is an anagram of the first four letters of the alphabet (A, D, L, M), standing for Alkule Dandaydhe Leñol Mulugol ("the alphabet which protects the peoples from vanishing"). The Adlam script has been proposed for encoding in Unicode.[1]

Other scripts

There has been at least one effort to adapt the N'Ko script to Pular of Guinea.


  1. ^  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.