The Sakun (Sukur) Language Documentation Project

The Sakun language is spoken by approximately 20,000 people in and around the UNESCO Sukur World Heritage Site in Adamawa State, Nigeria.  Sakun is a member of the Biu-Mandara group of Chadic languages and as is the case with many minority languages in the region, Sakun is under serious pressure from Hausa.

DSC_0019The Sakun (Sukur) Language Documentation Project has produced a 24 hour corpus of videos providing a record of a broad range of cultural practices as well as speech genres. Each utterance in the recordings has been time-aligned, transcribed in the orthography developed as part of this project, and translated into English. Included in the corpus are many examples of traditional story telling, ritual dance, music and local production practices. This language documentation project provides a record of the language of the people in the context of many facets of the intangible cultural heritage of the Sakun.  The corpus collected during the project is archived with the Endangered Languages Archive housed by the School for Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

            The project team included Michael Thomas from the University of Colorado, Simon Waida, Chief Museum Guide for the UNESCO site, Joseph Zera and Luka John.  The project would not have been possible without the support the ELDP, the NSF and of the entire Sakun community.

For a selection of photos from the project, please visit the photo gallery.

For links related to Sakun culture, the people of the region, UNESCO enlistment and the current threat posed by Boko Haram to the region please visit the links page in the drop down menu.