Susu language

Native to Guinea, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau
Region Coastal Guinea
Native speakers
1.06 million (2001–2006)[1]
  • Mande

    • Western Mande
      • Central
        • Soso–Yalunka
          • Soso
Language codes
ISO 639-2 sus
ISO 639-3 sus
Glottolog susu1250[2]

The Susu language (endonym Sosoxui; French: Soussou) is the language of the Susu or Soso people of Guinea and Sierra Leone, West Africa. It is in the Mande language family.

It is one of the national languages of Guinea and spoken mainly in the coastal region of the country.


The language was also used by people in the coastal regions of Guinea and Sierra Leone as a trade language.

Grammatical sketch

Susu is an SOV language, Poss-N, N-D, generally suffixing, non-pro-drop, wh-in-situ, with no agreement affixes on the verb, no noun classes, no gender, and with a clitic plural marker which attaches to the last element of the NP (N or D, typically), but does not co-occur with numerals. It has no definite or indefinite articles. Sentential negation is expressed with a particle, mu, whose distribution is unclear (with adjectival predicates it seems to sometimes infix, but with transitive verbs it comes before the object).


khame didi to ne. man boy see PAST "The/a man saw the/a boy."
a. n tami don ma. 1sg bread eat PRES(generic) "I eat bread."
b. i tami don ma. 2sg bread eat PRES(generic) "You (sg) eat bread."
c. a tami don ma. 3sg bread eat PRES(generic) "He/she/it eats bread."
d. won tami don ma. bread eat PRES(generic) "We (including you) eat bread."
e. mukhu tami don ma. bread eat PRES(generic) "We (excluding you) eat bread."
f. wo tami don ma. 2pl bread eat PRES(generic) "You (pl or polite [sg or pl]) eat bread." ("wo" is used as French "vous")
g. e tami don ma. 3pl bread eat PRES(generic) "They eat bread."


a. n bankhi to ne. 1sg house see PAST. "I saw a/the house."
b. n tami don fe. 1sg bread eat PROG "I am eating the bread."

Object pronouns have the same form as subject pronouns:

a. khame n to ne. man 1sg see PAST. "A/the man saw me."
b. khame i to ne. man 2sg see PAST. "A/the man saw you (sg)."
c. khame a to ne. man 3sg see PAST. "A/the man saw him/her/it."
d. khame won to ne. man see PAST. "A/the man saw us (including you)."
e. khame mukhu to ne. man see PAST. "A/the man saw us (excluding you)."
f. khame wo to ne. man 2pl see PAST. "A/the man saw you (pl)."
g. khame e to ne. man 3pl see PAST. "A/the man saw them."

Adverbs can precede the subject or follow the verb:

a. khoro n fa ne. yesterday 1sg arrive PAST "Yesterday I arrived."
b. n fa ne khoro. 1sg arrive PAST yesterday "I arrived yesterday."

NPs come in a variety of forms:

khame "boy (sg)", khame e "boys (pl)
tami "bread (sg)", tami e "breads (pl)"
a. khame e tami don ma. boy pl bread eat PRES "The/0 boys eat bread."
b. khame tami e don ma. boy bread pl eat PRES "The/a boy eats breads."

Possessive affixes precede the noun:

baba "father":
m baba "my father"
i baba "your (sg) father"
a baba "his/her/its father"
wom baba "our father"
wo baba "your (pl) father"
e baba "their father"
a. auto keren car one "one car"
b. auto firin car two "two cars"
c. auto sakhan "three cars"
d. auto nani "four cars"
e. auto suli "five cars"
f. auto seni "six cars"
g. auto solofere "seven cars"
h. auto solomasakhan "eight cars"
i. auto solomanani "nine cars"
j. auto fu "ten cars"
k. auto funukeren "eleven cars"
l. auto funufirin "twelve cars"
n auto nde e to ne 1sg car indef.D pl see PAST "I saw several cars"/"J'ai vu des autos."
auto nde "some car"
di nde "some boy"
bangkhi nde "some house"
khame nde "someone"
se nde "something"
nde "who/some"
i nde to? you who see "Who did you see?"
i munse don ma? 2sg what eat PRES "What will you eat?"


Susu does not appear to have tones. The grapheme kh above represents a voiced uvular fricative (the "r" in French "Paris").

Susu consonants[3]
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal Labial-velar
Nasal m m n n ɲ ɲ ŋ ng
Plosive prenasalized nd nd
voiced b b d d ɡ g ɡb gb
voiceless p p t t k k
Fricative f f s s χ x h h
Trill ɲ ɲ
Approximant w w l l j y
Susu vowels[3]
Front Back
Close i i u u
Close-mid e e o o
Open-mid ɛ ɛ ɔ ɔ
Open ɡ a


Sosoxui is closely related to the Yalunka language.


  1. Soso at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Susu". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. 1 2
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