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How to Speak Basic Kunama

Eritrean Family From Barentu

How to Speak Basic Kunama

The Kunama language is categorized under the Nilo-Saharan family and is spoken by 2% of the Eritrean population.

Kunama Dialects and Related Languages.

There are appreciable dialect differentiation in Kunama, with Ilit and Sokodas (both sometimes refered to as "Western Kunama") being two Nilo-Saharan languages closely related to Kunama. Although similar in many ways, Kunama linguist such as John Abraha Ashkaba believe these two dialects form a different cluster from the Kunama language, which in distinction from Ilit and Sokodas, is generally refereed to as "Eastern Kunama". Studies conducted in the early 1990s show Ilit and Sokodas share 71% lexicon similarity with one another. The various Eastern Kunama dialects and Ilit share between 57% to 65% lexicon. While Eastern Kunama dialects and Sokodas share a higher lexicon rate between  60% to 70% .

Photo: Siegbert Uhlig, 2007
Although Ilit and Sokodas are geographically separated from the main Kunama groups, and  linguistically speak a very distinct language, both the Ilit and Sokodas speakers have a strong identity of "being Kunama". As a result of this, they generally consider their western Kunama dialects to be nothing more than dialects of the Eastern Kunama language.

Western Kunama Dialects ( languages related to Kunama)
*Illit - also spelled Elit                

Eastern Kunama Dialects (standard Kunama)

Table Below are words and sentences in Kunama with English translation.

#English Kunama
2Where Are You FromInkankin Nono
4God Bless YouAnnam Eshodi
5Eritrea is My CountryEritrea Laganga
6I Am Proud to be EritreanEritrea dina nashama si anda gogonake
7I Am HappyAba Anda Gogonake
8What Is Your Name?Kideya Nano?
9Peace Be Upon YouSulluma Emette Kisha
12I Like This MusicAnanenasi Anda Nameyke
16To ChewKayo
17Tongue Nela
18You Are Beautiful Anda Kelake
20ManAbisha / Adda
21WomanDarka / Kisha
22Strong Gudurta
23DancingKubula Ba
24I Am HandsomeAba Deda Tokoma
26You Are WelcomeTagama Kosimme
28Hand; ArmKona
29One Ella  
30Chin; BeardGoma
31I have Many CowsAba Aila Fauda Na-ina-ke
32Can You please Help Me?Shonki Adadina Tori?
33White (color)Aroro
39Eritrea Has 9 Main LanguagesEritrea Gele Dinise Eldawde Kinnake
41What Time is it?Sate inkalleno
42Where Are You Going?Inka Ganno
43Who Are You?Inkalle Nokosso?
45Rod; Wand; Crutch Tinkisha
46Those Taking Care of the LandLaga Kokki Naumme
47Those Who Control The LandLaga Kokki Hakumomme  
48SunWookiira;  Iikiira
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How to Speak Basic Kunama Reviewed by Admin on 12:40 AM Rating: 5


  1. let me give you some corection here
    Who are you ? for is Ena nano? not Inkalle nokoso
    Inkalle nokoso ? in kunama is Where are you? for English.

  2. I work in a school for children with special needs. i have a child in my class that speaks kunama and i am finding it very difficult to find translations. Anyone know of good resource where i could get this information.

  3. ^^^ Anonymous who wrote in @ 1:49 PM

    unfortunately, outside of this basic Kunama to English translation here, there aren't any resources online that help with Kunama language. But if you provide your e-mail on here, I can forward it to Eritreans who speak Kunama to help you out with what you need.

  4. that would be great. Just looking for basic words to help with the communication barrier as she is very eager to talk (which it great!!!) my email is thank you very much.

  5. this is amazing, I would like to work on developing a web resource that would enable Kunama to go online. But I need someone to do all the necessary translations. Thanks in advance.

  6. I don't know who took this initiative. Although the significance of the initiation being considered as a positive step I am wondering abhorable mistakes that I read on the text. What I have understood is the initiator did not consult Kunama elites who know their language above anyone else. This is good evidence. Therefore please always think to share with owners of the culture.

    Marbati Amren

  7. I work at a center for diversity, at out front desk we have a sign that says "Please wait here" in many languages. Would you give me the Kunama translation?

    1. Please wait kunama word(assi lakada or assi koluda) if you need help
      find me at(

  8. I just compiled some kunama grammar and vocabulary. Trying to publish was slightly expe sieve so for $35 us you can get a copy . It has 345 pages with some kunama to English and English to kunama. Check it face book under kunama people and friends page a nd let me know if you need a copy

  9. Please I need a Kunama to english, english to kunam dictionary stat.

    email me at

    English into Kunama translator is needed.
    1 page document.
    due date: May 10, 2012

    Please email to:

  11. some of those need correction

  12. We are looking for person who knows kunama language. If you can help us with translation into English, that would be great. Please email me at
    Thank you.

  13. Hello,
    I need a Kunama translator urgently. If you can speak the language, please send a mail to

  14. hello samspring
    I need a English to kunama translator

  15. hello anonymous I need more English to kunama translator

  16. mother is not ewwa
    father is not enenga
    1, mother is enenga
    2,father is ewwa alright guys from job corps high school student

  17. I need English words match these kunama words if you known everyone help me please !!!
    1, atakemme mekosiyya tamma katake?
    2,(tribe)sumowa kunamabu ayedowano?
    3,(streatment)sumowa kunamabu ayedowano?natakemmowano nakkelakema samananki metakeyya asasa?

  18. daughter akkandokowammeki atawata kinake akka kikkisha okodimowa

  19. akkan nuyya unu addasina kishasi kidoka nikidana woynabbu maydabbu kanatawaki katakana kogoshake

  20. tooth is not mayya
    tooth is maa


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