The Nubian Language

Interesting Nubian The Nubian Language, Books about the Nubian Language, Proverbs & Wisdom, Literature, Seminars about the Nubian Language, Old Nubian

Discover the amazing Nubian Language, one of the oldest permanently spoken languages in the World

Like the other forms of Nubian art, the Nubian language has its roots in the ancient population of the Nile River spanning from Aswan in today's Egypt to Omdurman in Sudan. Besides being one of the - or the - oldest permanently spoken and structured languages in the World, the Nubian language is a form of art, due to its melodious intonation that easily translates into poesy and songs. With its first written traces in the temple of Abu Simbel built in the 12th century B.C., the Old Nubian language alternated between periods in which it was been written - as in hieroglyphic and later ancient Meroitinc inscriptions in today's Northern Sudan, as well as inscriptions and scrolls in Old Nubian between about 600 AD - 1500 AD - and periods in which the language was passed on orally. Recently, efforts from Nubian scholars brought the language back to a structured form written in the Nubian alphabet, derived from Greek and Coptic letters with some letters adapted to the specific sounds in Nubian. Extensive efforts are done to revive Nobiin (also called Fadiji), Kenzi (Matokki) and Andaandi (or Dongloawi), all rooted in Old Nubian, by teaching the language to the young generation and Nubians whose parents were displaced from their villages of origin due to the construction of consecutive dams and the formation of Lake Nasser, that drowned a large portion of Nubian lands.

Discover the wonderful Nubian language

Nubian language

About the Nubian Language

Thanks to the huge personal efforts of Nubian scholars, the Nubian language with its ancient origins can be saved from extinction, despite the mass displacement of many Nubians and the neglect of preservation by the previous governments of Egypt and Sudan. In a joint effort, Nubian linguists re-assigned the Old Nubian alphabet derived from Greek and Coptic letters, and wrote grammars and textbooks as well as dictionaries and electronic applications.


Seminars about the Nubian Language

Because of the importance the Nubian language holds in the hearts and minds of Nubians, seminars are held regularly to discuss how to revive and strengthen the Nubian language — Fadiji (or Fadicci) and Kenzi — and to encourage the Nubian youth, who often do not speak their mother tongue any longer, to learn and honor it. Nubian linguists, language educators, as well as artists, writers an poets and personalities speak during the seminars.

Language books

Books and scientific documents about the Nubian language

While interest in the Nubian language has increased in recent years — both among the Nubians themselves and internationally — linguists, archaeologists and historians have written books and studies about this language which is presumed to be the oldest organized and permanently spoken language in the World, spoken for at least 9000 years and probably much longer. We bring you a selection of books and studies about the amazing Nubian language.

Nubian proverbs

Nubian proverbs and short stories

As a society looking back to a rich history and heritage, and the great respect Nubians attach to the advice and wisdom of their Elders, the Nubian community preserved its cherished proverbs which are often applied in common verbal exchange between people to remind each other of moral values or the right way to proceed. Even in some songs, proverbs are mentioned as a message of wisdom.


Lessons of Nubian - Nobiin (Fadiji), Kenzi (Matokki) and Andandi (Dongolawi)

It is estimated that only about 5 percent of young Nubians living today speak their mother tongue, mainly due to relocation to Arab lands after the construction of the Aswan High Dam and flooding of Nubian villages. Nubian language teachers make great efforts to give lessons mainly to young men and women, who will then teach their children. There is a high demand for the Nubian language to be taught in schools and universities.

Old Nubian

Old Nubian

The Old Nubian language, a direct descendent of Proto-Nubian and related to Omotic, the first language spoken in the African Nile Valley - considered by linguists to be the root language, is part of the Afro-Asiatic, Nilo-Saharan language group, and linguists date it back to at least the 9th to 6th millennium B.C., and its predecessor Proto-Nubian was probably spoken even before the first human settlements - found in Nubia near Halfa and dating back to 100'000 years - were estblished. Some scientists therefore believe it is the first structured language in the World. Old Nubian is the ancestor of Nobiin (Fadiji) and Kenzi (Andaandi - Matokki) spoken by Nubians today.