Kujargé language

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Native to Chad, Sudan
Region Jebel Mirra
Native speakers
(1,000 cited 1983)[1]
  • (unclassified)
    • Kujargé
Language codes
ISO 639-3 vkj
Glottolog kuja1239[2]
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The Kujargé language is spoken in seven villages in Chad near Jebel Mirra (11°45′N 22°15′E / 11.750°N 22.250°E / 11.750; 22.250) and in Sudan in villages scattered along the lower Wadi Salih and Wadi Azum. It is estimated to have about 1000 speakers (as of 1983). The name is derived from Sudanese Arabic kujur "sorcerer", because of their reputation for witchcraft. The speakers mainly live by hunting and gathering.


Kujarge is unclassified. It is known only from a 200-word list. These include Chadic words, but low numerals and pronouns look very un-Chadic.[3] Blench (2008) notes that much of the basic vocabulary looks Cushitic, and speculates that Kujarge could even be a conservative language transitional between Chadic and Cushitic.[4]

The language had been classified as a member of the Mubi subgroup of Chadic by Paul Newman; however, Lionel Bender argued that its classification remained uncertain. There may have been a mix-up with Birgit, a nearby Mubi language which is also called Kujarge; when Newman was shown the 200-word list in 2006, he would not commit to it being Chadic.[3]

In addition, there appears to be a large amount of vocabulary that hasn't been identified as Afro-Asiatic; there is a possibility that it is a language isolate that has been largely relexified by Chadic and Cushitic.[5]

Blažek (2013) purports to show that Kujarge is an East Chadic language.


Judging by the one available wordlist, the consonants appear to be:

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Plosives b t d ɟ k ɡ
Implosives ɓ ɗ
Prenasalised plosives mb nd ɲɟ ŋɡ
Fricatives f s ʃ
Continuants w l j
Nasals m n ɲ ŋ
Trills r

Relatively few consonant clusters are attested; they appear to all involve r+consonant or gemination (unless the prenasalized stops are to be seen as clusters.)

The vowels used in transcribing the same wordlist are: a, e, i, o, u, ʌ, ɛ, ɔ. It is not clear whether all of these are phonemically distinct; [ʌ] and [ɔ], in particular, are rare.


The pronouns include annu "I", nigi "you (sg.)". Interrogative pronouns include ŋgayna "what?", ye "who?". Demonstratives include agu "this".

The numbers include:

  1. kirre
  2. kurro
  3. ubo


Blažek, Václav. 2013. Kujarge wordlist with Chadic (Afroasiatic) cognates. In: Henry Tourneux (ed.), Topics in Chadic Linguistics VII, Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe.

Doornbos, Paul & M. Lionel Bender. 1983. "Languages of Wadai-Darfur", in ed. M. Lionel Bender, Nilo-Saharan Language Studies, African Studies Center, Michigan State University

  1. ^ Kujargé at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kujarge". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ a b Harald Hammarström, 2010, 'The status of the least documented language families in the world'. In Language Documentation & Conservation, v 4, p 183 [1]
  4. ^ Roger Blench, 2008. 'Links between Cushitic, Omotic, Chadic and the position of Kujarge'. (ms)[2]
  5. ^ Roger Blench and Mauro Tosco, 2010. 'Cushitic, Omotic, Chadic and the position of Kujarge', Workshop « Language Isolates in Africa », Lyons