Maasai language

Maasai Language

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Maasai language

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The Maasai language (sometimes mis-written as Masai) (autonym: ɔl Maa) is an Eastern Nilotic language spoken in Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania by the Maasai people, numbering about 800,000. It is closely related to the other Maa varieties Samburu (or Sampur), the language of the Samburu people of central Kenya, Chamus, spoken south and southeast of Lake Baringo (sometimes regarded as a dialect of Samburu); and Parakuyu of Tanzania. The Maasai, Samburu, il-Chamus and Parakuyu peoples are historically related and all refer to their language as .


The Maasai variety of ɔl-Maa as spoken in southern Kenya and Tanzania has 30 contrastive sounds, which can be represented and alphabetized as followsː a, b, ch (a variant of sh), d, e, ɛ, g, h, i, ɨ, j, k, l, m, n, ny, ŋ, o, ɔ, p, r, rr, s, sh (with variant ch), t, u, ʉ, w, wu (or ww), y, yi (or yy), and the glottal stop ' (ʔ).


In the table of consonant phonemes below, phonemes are represented with IPA symbols in / / brackets. When IPA conventions differ from symbols normally used in practical writing, the practical orthography symbols are given in ( ) brackets.

For some Maasai speakers the voiced stop consonants are not particularly implosive (e.g. IlKeekonyokie Maa), but for others they are lightly implosive or have a glottalic feature (e.g. Parakuyo Maa). The p consonant in Arusha Maa is pronounced differently than in other Maa varieties. In Arusha Maa it is typically a voiceless...
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