The Nubian can be proud of their language
should be reminded of the old Nubian, the language of the
medieval Christian kingdom, is the only African non-Afro-Asiatic
language which developed a literature written for at least 700
years,i.e. from the 16th to 15th A.D. The study of old nubian
and the publication of the texts discovered in different
campaign's is still going on.
Language: The Kenuzi speak Kenuzi-Dongolawi while the Fedidja
speak Fedidja-Mahas. There is also a group within the Nubians
who have become Arabicized to the point that their first
language is now Arabic. Most of the men today are bilingual,
speaking their Nubian language and Arabi."
The Nubian languages make much more use of suffixes than of
prefixes or infixes, especially in noun inflection. Nouns
have forms for the nominative, vocative, objective, genitive,
locative, instrumental, and ablative cases in some of the
languages. A collective noun used as the subject of a sentence
may be followed by either a singular or a plural verb
Nubian language group.
Dongolawi and Kenzi.
Kenzi is spoken north of Mahas in Egypt
while Dongolawi is spoken south of Mahas around Dongola. With
population displacement due to the Aswan High Dam there are
communities of Nubian speakers in Lower Egypt and in Eastern
Sudan (Khashm el-Girba). Apart from these two distinct varieties
spoken along the Nile, three other varieties existed."
Birgid - originally spoken north of Nyala around Menawashei
until the 1970s. The last surviving aged speakers were
interviewed by Thelwall at this time. And some equally aged
speakers on Gezira Aba just north of Kosti on the Nile south of
Khartoum and interviewed by Thelwall in 1980."
Old Nubian is preserved in at least a hundred pages of
documents, mostly of a Christian religious nature, written using
a modified form of the Coptic (Greek) script. These documents
range in date from the 8th to the 15th century A.D. Old Nubian
is currently considered ancestral to modern Nobiin."
Midob in and around the Malha volcanic crater in North Darfur."
Hill Nubian - a group of closely related dialects spoken in
various villages in the northern Nuba Mountains - in particular
Dilling, Debri, and Kadaru."
The Nubians also have their own language. The old Nubian
characterized by a writing system, was a unique language used in
all the area, as many manuscripts found in many different places
of Nubia testify. It uses the Coptic alphabet with the addition
of other letters to write the typical Nubian sounds. The oldest
manuscripts in old Nubian go back to the beginning of the
Christian period in Nubia (middle of the 6th century). With the
appearance of Islam in Nubia (about 13th century) Arabic became
the dominant language. However Nubian continued to be used until
today. The modern language is formed by many dialects (Fadiga,
Kenzi, Sikut, Mahas, Dongolawi), which derive from the old one.
Since they do not respect a fixed model of writing, everyone
tries to create his own model in such a way that sometimes the
writer himself cannot read it again especially after a long
time!". Today many Nubians and foreign scholars are interested
in the study of the Nubian language. This interest in its
maintenance is very important for the Nubians since the language
is the most important instrument to perpetuate the memory of a
Today Nubia is the region south of Egypt along the Nile in
northern sudan, but in ancient times it was an African Kingdom.
Its people spoke at least two varieties of the Nubian language
group, a Nilo- saharan subfamily which includes Nubiin,
Kenuzi-Dongola,Midab and several related varieties in the
northern part of the Nuba mountians in south Kordofan. A variety
- Birgid was spoken ( at least until 1970) north of Nyala in
Darfur but is now extinct . Old Nubian was used in mostly
religious texts dating from the 8th and 9th centuries A D. it's
considered ancestral to modern day Nobiin .The Nubian language
stayed alive since the early days of history in spite of all
events faced the nubians throughout all ages and in spite of all
peoples who invaded Egypt .
When ethnologists speak of "Nubia," they usually mean only the
land occupied by the people who speak dialects of the Nubian
language. Nubian-speakers live between Kom Ombo, about 30 miles
(50 km) north of Aswan in Egypt, and ed-Debba, Sudan, about 180
miles (300 km) northwest of Khartoum, Sudan. Before the
fifteenth century, when the spread of Islam became very
widespread in Sudan, Nubian-speaking peoples occupied a much
larger area, even including the land southwards up the Blue
Nile. Their descendants live there still, but today they speak
The scientific study of the old Nubian language
The scientific study of the Old Nubian language started very
late, in 1913 by Griffith' monumental edition of all available
Nubian text then. This was followed by several studies of other
scholars. During the Christian Nubian era the Old Nubian
alphabets had resemblance to Old Greek and Coptic alphabets.
Both Coptic (31 or 32 letters) and Old Nubian (26) had more
letters than old Greek (24), either to add special letters with
no equivalent in old Greek (the Old Coptic) or to represent
special sounds (the Old Nubian). As for today no standard method
of writing Old Nubian has been adopted. However recently some
scholars are active on establishing such a standard like Prof.
Browne and Dr. M. M. Khalil. Recently the Nubian Archaeologist
Dr. M. M. Khalil has drafted a textbook on how to write old
Nubian. His study is based on an assumption that since Old
Nubian relies mainly on produced tones (intonation or chanting)
then a Nubian who talks and masters the language is more
qualified and capable to establish a standard method of writing.
The structure and formation of the Old Nubian language is
characterized by its reliance on produced tones that is known as
intonation or chanting. In this respect the general structure of
this language is not a group of words linked by a common syntax
to form a sentence. The speaker tackles this formation by
putting parts together integrally with intonation and chanting.
This takes place without interruption to conform with grammar
thus most parts of a sentence are composed by adding a suffix or
prefix to the word stem.
Documents in Old Nubian, which appears to be the ancestor of
modern Central Nubian, date from the end of the 8th century to
the beginning of the 14th century. These are usually
translations of Christian writings originally in Greek and are
written, as is modern Nubian, in an adaptation of the Coptic
alphabet. Speakers of Nubian languages in modern times are
Muslims, and the languages contain a number of Arabic borrowings