From Ethnologue (

Alternate Names: Mamprule, Manpelle, Ngmamperli Population: 220,000 in Ghana (2004 SIL), increasing.

Location: Northeast Northern Region, east and west of Gambaga. Also in Togo.

Language Status: De facto provincial language in northeast North Region.

Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, North, Gur, Central, Northern, Oti-Volta, Western, Southeast Dialects: Eastern Mampruli, Western Mampruli. 50% intelligibility with Dagbani [dag].

Lexical similarity: 95% with Dagbani [dag], 90% with Farefare [gur].

Language Use: Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Also use Farefare [gur], Bimoba [bim], or Bisa [bib].

Language Development: Literacy rate in L1: Below 1%. Literacy rate in L2: 5%–10%. 48 literacy teachers; about 20 primary schools, 10 junior secondary schools, 3 secondary schools. Taught in primary and secondary schools. Dictionary.

Writing: Latin script, used since 1981.

From The Mampruli Dictionary In Electronic FormTony Naden [G.I.L.L.B.T.] (draft)

The Mampruli or Ŋmampulli language is spoken in a broad  belt across the northern parts of the Northern Region of Ghana, stretching west to east fromYizeesi to Nakpanduri and centred on the towns of Gambaga/Nalerigu and Walewale.

The language belongs to the Gur family which is part of the great block of Niger-Congo languages which cover most of Africa south of the Sahara (Bendor-Samuel 1989). Within Gur it belongs to the Western Oti-Volta subgroup, and particularly its southeastern cluster of six to eight languages (Naden 1988, 1989). Closely-related and very similar languages spoken nearby are Dagbani,  Nanun*,  KaMara and Hanga, and Kusaal, Nabit and Talni in the Upper East Region. Not quite so closely-related are Farefare, Waali, Dagaari, Birifor and Safalaba in the Upper East and West Regions and southwest of the Northern Region.

Most Ghanaians speak several languages, and many people of the Northern and Upper East regions can understand a litle Mampruli or the closely-related Dagbani. As a group with a larger population some Mamprusi may only speak Mamprulii and one or more of the languages of wider communication Hausa, English or (Asante) Twi. Many others will know the language(s) of the neighbouring people who adjoin their own area or have settled near them in numbers.

Government policy has varied over the years as to whether the local Ghanaian language should be extensively used in early education or whether ultimate performance in the international language will be enhanced by concentrating on English. The comparative lack of quantity and variety of literature, and of teachers trained in using the Ghanaian language, means that even when mother-tongue primary education is in favour it is difficult to teach it, and in it, effectively. 

Various agencies are involved in promoting adult literacy and related development issues, notably the Ghana Government's Division (?) of Non-Formal Education, and the Mampruli Literacy Project of G.I.L.L.B.T.

* The Nanumba people have more or less ceased using their own language and now speak eastern Dagbani with a distinctive accent.

** Until a grammar of the language specifically oriented to dictionary users is completed, you may be interested in a simple, non-technical grammar sketch prepared for learners of the language (part of Naden et al. n/d (1970s onward)).


                  Published Lexical Materials and Sources:


Naawuni Kunni Palli 2001: Mampruli New Testament. Tamale : GILLBT/WBT. 

Naden, Tony 1974. An outline thesaurus for North-Ghanaian languages. Tamale,N.R.(Ghana) : Institute of Linguistics. || - reprint without index : Tamale 1980

Dakubu, M.E. Kropp / E.K.Osam [eds.]    2003.    Studies in the Languages of the Volta Basin.    Legon : Linguistics Dept., Uni. of Ghana

Naden, Tony    1980.  [and various editions and printings since]    Mampruli Spelling Guide:  for teachers, writers, Bible translators and others.    Gbeduuri, N/R : Mamprint

Naden, Tony [ed.] 1997. Mampruli Vocabulary / Ŋmampulli Yɛla. Gbeduuri, N.R. Mamprint (mimeo)

Naden, Tony    2003.    Principles and Problems in Gur Lexicography.   in  Dakubu/Osam [eds.] 2003 : 222-236

Plissart, Xavier 1983. Mampruli Proverbs. Tervuren : Musée Royale de l'Afrique.

Swadesh, Mauricio /Evangelina Arana/John T.Bendor-Samuel/W.A.A.Wilson    1966.    A preliminary glottochronology of Gur languages.    in   J.W.A.L. III (1)  : 27-65

                  Unpublished and electronic Lexical Resources:

B.M.C.    1969(?).    "B.D."  : English-Mampruli Dictionary prepared by the missionaries ofthe Baptist Medical Center, Nalerigu.Typescript
Plissart, Xavier    1970s    Corpus of 4000 Mampruli Proverbs.    2 typescripts.  About ⅔ published in Plissart 1983.

                  Other Works on (or including) the Mamprusi people and Mampruli language


Barker, Peter 1986. Peoples, languages and religion in Northern Ghana - a preliminary report. Accra : Asempa / G.E.C. [New edition in prep., proposed title "40 Northern Ghana Peoples"

Bendor-Samuel, John T. [ed.] 1989 The Niger-Congo Languages. Lanham, MD : University Press of America

Dakubu, Mary Esther Kropp [ed.] 1977. West African langage data sheets I. n/p : W.A.L.S.

Dakubu, Mary Esther Kropp [ed.] 1988, The languages of Ghana. London : Kegan Paul International for I.A.I. /W.A.L.S.

Dakubu, M.E. Kropp / E.K.Osam [eds.] 2003. Studies in the Languages of the Volta Basin. Legon : Linguistics Dept., Uni. of Ghana

Dakubu, M.E. Kropp / E.K.Osam [eds.] 2004. Studies in the Languages of the Volta Basin 2. Legon : Linguistics Dept., Uni. of Ghana

Dakubu, M.E. Kropp / E.K.Osam [eds.] 2005. Studies in the Languages of the Volta Basin 3. Legon : Linguistics Dept., Uni. of Ghana

Naden, Anthony J. 1982. Class pronoun desuetude revisited. JWAL XII (1) :34-42

Naden, Tony 1980. 'Siamese twins' in Mampruli phonology. Afr. Marburgensia XIII (1) : 52-57

Naden, Tony 1982- Western-Oti/Volta Lexinotes.     [unpublished :  comparative studies of specific lexical fields]

Naden, Tony 1986. Western Oti/Volta pronoun systems. in Ursula Wiesemann [ed.]   Pronominal systems. Tübingen : Günther Narr : 249-275

Naden, Tony 1988.a     review_ of Plissart 1983.     JALL 10 (1) : 93-101

Naden, Tony 1988.b Gur languages. in Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu [ed.] 1988  :  12-49

Naden, Tony 1989. Gur. in J.T.Bendor-Samuel [ed.] 1989 : 141-168

Naden, Tony 1996.a Ancestor non-worship amongst the Mamprusi. LEXICOS 6 : 71-203

Naden, Tony 1996.b Time and Calendar in Mampruli. in Naden [ed.] 1996 : 25-42

Naden, Tony 2003.b Identification and classification: articles in Mampruli and friends. [MS - GILLBT Academic Seminar]

Naden, Tony 2004.a.     The Top of the Folk Taxonomy.     in Dakubu/Osam [eds.] 2004: 55-74

Naden, Tony 2005.a     Three cheers for the red, white and black.    in Dakubu/Osam [eds.], 2005 : 173-192

Naden, Tony 2005.b Sentence Perspective In Mampruli.     unpublished Study paper in connection with 'Between Tone and Text' : Conference on Gur Languages, Bayreuth, October 2005

Naden, Tony 2006.a Verb-to-nominal derivation in Mampruli and friends. Gur Papers/Cahiers Voltaïques : 787-94

Naden, Tony 2006.b Descriptives : adjectives in Mampruli.    [paper at NUFU Colloquium, Legon, Jan,. 2006]

Naden, Tony 2007 in prep .Purpose in Mampruli. [for GILLBT Academic Seminar 2008]

Naden, Tony 2007 forthc. Recipes for Cooking Up Communication in Mampruli. [paper at NUFU Colloquium, Legon, Jan,. 2007]

Naden, Tony (with Margaret A.Langdon and Tony G.Pope) n/d (1970s onward). Speaking and hearing Mampruli. Gbeduuri, N.R. : Mamprint

Naden, Tony [ed.] 1996.a Time and the calendar in some Ghanaian languages. Tamale / Legon : GILLBT / I.A.S. [Notes on Language and Culture 4]

[and references in many works on Mampruli and Western Oti/Volta]

Osbiston, Rachel M. 1974. Labialization and palatalization in Mamprule. Paper at XI Congress of W.Afr. Languages, Yaoundé (mimeo.)
Plissart, Xavier    1983.    MampruliProverbs.    Tervuren  :  Musée Royale de l'Afrique
Wilson, W.A.A. 1971. Class pronoun desuetude in the Mõõré-Dagbani subgroup of Gur. JWAL VIII (2) : 79-83

                      Cultural and Historical

Davis, David C. 1979, Themes in the history of Dagbong and Mampurugu. unpub. - Northwestern Univ.

Davis, David C. 1992. "They sing our origins." : a study of the lungsi drummers of Mampurugu. African Music 7(2) :58-71

Drucker Brown, Susan 1967. Mamprusi political organisation. Paris : CNRS-CRVS Colloque sur les cultures voltaïques.

Drucker Brown, Susan 1967. Introduccion Etnografica / Anthropological Introduction. in Swadesh / Arana 1967 : 15-21/23-28

Drucker Brown, Susan 1975. Ritual aspects of Mamprusi kingship. Leiden / Cambridge : Afrika-Studiecentrum / African Studies Centre

Drucker Brown, Susan 1981. The structure of the Mamprusi kingdom and the cult of naam.     in Henri Clässen / Peter Skalnik [eds.] The study of the state. Paris : Mouton : 117-131

Drucker Brown, Susan 1982. Joking at death : the Mamprusi grandparent-grandchild joking relationship. Man(n.s.) 17 : 714-727

Drucker Brown, Susan 1989. Mamprusi installation ritual and centralisatiion: a convection model.. Man (N.S.) 24  :  485-501 

Drucker Brown, Susan 1995. The court and the kola nut: wooing and witnessing in northern Ghana. JRAI (N.S.) 1  :  129-143

Drucker Brown, Susan 2001. House and hierarchy: politics and domestic space in northern Ghana. J.R.A.I. (n.s.)7  :  669-685

Drucker Brown, Susan/ Rachel Nayler 1992/3. The content and context of Mamprusi "solima". Cambridge Anthropology 16 : 61-77

Iliasu, A.A. n.d.. The establishment of British administration in Mampurugu 1898-1937.     Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana 9 :119-120

Iliasu, A.A. 1970. Mampurugu: the oral traditions of its peoples. Legon : History Dept. - unpublished paper

Lance, James M. 1987. Colonial law, "customary" law, and Mamprusi litigants. Research Review (n.s.) 3(1)

MacKay, C.F. n.d.. A short essay on the history and customs of the Mamprusi tribe. mimeo. : GNA Accra/Tamale acc. 1521

Masters, D. 1955. Economic survey, Kpasingpe and Dindane in the South Mamprusi district. unpub. MS in Balme Library

Naden, Dianne / Tony 1991. Polygyny: further factors from Mamprusi. AA 93(4) : 948-950

Naden, Di / Tony     2003. Community involvement in orthography design. in Dakubu/Osam [eds.] 2003 :: 218-221

Naden, Tony 2003.a     Greeting a Chief and other matters. in Kröger/Meier [eds.] 2003 : 313-326

Naden, Tony 1996. Ancestor non-worship amongst the Mamprusi. LEXICOS 6 : 71-203

Schlöttner, Michael 1991. Herrschaft und Religion bei den Mamprusi und Kusasi im Nordosten von Ghana. Paideuma 37 : 141-159

ISO Code: