Kabiye (Kabɩyɛ)

Kabiye is member of the Southern Gur branch of Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by about 1.2 million people, mainly in Togo. The Kabiye homeland is in and around the town of (Lama-)Kara in the Kara Region in northwestern Togo. However, a diaspora has spread to the centre and south of the country, as well as to neighbouring Benin and Ghana, to such an extent that many more Kabiye speakers now live outside the homeland than in it.

Kabiye is classified as a national language of Togo, along with Ewe. It is used in the media, and is taught in secondary schools as an optional subject. It is also recognised as a minority language in Benin.

Kabiye, which is also known as Kabiyé, Kabiyè, Kabye, Kabyé, Kabyè, Kabire, Kabure, Cabrai or Cabrais. Dialects include Piya, Kijaŋ, Lamaa Ɖɩsɩ and Kpaguda.

Kabiye first appeared in print in the 1930s. The first grammar of the language was published in 1976 by Jacques Delord, a missionary-linguist. A standard orthography for Kabiye based on the Piya variety was created in the 1980s by the Comité de Langue Nationale Kabiyè (now the Académie Kabiyè), part of the Ministry of Education in Togo. Another spelling system, devised by R.P. Adjola Raphael, is widely used by Catholics.

Kabiye alphabet and pronunciation

Kabiye alphabet and pronunciation

Download an alphabet chart for Kabiye (Excel)


Some details provided by David Roberts

Sample text

Palʊlʊʊ ɛyaaa nɛ pa-tɩ yɔɔ wɛʊ kpaagbaa nɛ pɛwɛɛ kɩmaŋ wala ɛsɩndaa. Palʊlʊʊ-wɛ nɛ pɔ-lɔŋ nɛ pa-aɣzɩm; mbʊ yekina nɛ pɔsɔɔlɩ ɖama se pɛkɛ ɛyaa pa-tɩŋgɛ.


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample videos

Information about Kabiye | Phrases | Numbers


Information about the Kabiye language

Kabiye lessons

Gur languages

Berba, Birifor (Northern), Birifor (Southern), Dagaare, Dagbani, Frafra, Gourmanchéma, Kabiye, Kasem, Konkomba, Kusaal, Láá Láá Bwamu, Mampruli, Moba, Mossi, Paasaal, Safaliba, Sisaali, Tammari, Tem, Tumulung Sisaala, Turka, Waama, Western Sisaala

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 26.01.24


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