Friday, September 19, 2014

Words For Father & Mother In Various African Languages (A-L)

Edited by Azizi Powell

[Latest revision September 24, 2017]

This is Part I of a two part series that provides an alphabetized listing of a small number of African languages and their word/s for "father" and "mother".

Part I provides entries for African languages from A-L.

Click for Part II. Part II provide entries for languages from M-Z.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

Additions and corrections are very welcome.

Please share the words for father and mother in other African and non-African languages in the comment section below. Thanks!

This small number of languages were selected somewhat at random from this listing of African language names "Official and Spoken Languages of African Countries" That website indicates that "Africa is a continent with a very high linguistic diversity, there are an estimated 1500-2000 African languages."

In this list, the nation in which the featured language is spoken is given in brackets after the language's name. The African word/s for the English language words "father" and "mother" are then given, followed by a citation of the online source where I retrieved that information. A quote from that source, or from Wikipedia, and/or from some other website may also be included for that entry.

A, B
Acholi [Uganda, Sudan]
Father, baba.
Mother, mama
"The Acholi language is a Western Nilotic language, classified as Luo (or Lwo). It is mutually intelligible with Lango, Alur and other Luo languages" [Wikipedia page for "Acholi"]

Amharic [Ethiopia]
Dad = abaye, abate, ababi
Mom = emaye a

Arabic [North Africa, parts of East Africa]
Father - ab
My Dad - abbi

Mother -umm
My Mom - ummi "Arabic word for mom and dad?" (combined answers)

C, D
Chichewa [Malawi]
father --- bambo
mother --- mayi

E, F
Fula (Gambia)
Father (also a respectful term of address to others) = ba : baaji
Father(s) = baaba; baabaaji
My father = ba am

Mother() = inna; innaaji
My mother = inna am

Fulfulde (Pular, Fula] [Nigeria and certain other West African nations]
"Baaba (father, we say baabiraaɓe in plural)
Neene or inna or Yumma (mother, the plural is said neeniraaɓe and inniraaɓe" “Today we are going to study the Fulani family Fulfulde”

Fulfulde (Pular, Fula) [Nigeria and certain other West African nations]
Family Members
baaba father
neene mother
ben father (respectful)
yuuma mother (respectful) fulfulde/ pular

Hausa [Nigeria, Niger]
father - uba
mother- uwa

I, J
Igbo [Nigeria]
Mother –nne
Father - nna
citation: Google translate

K, L
Kanuri [Nigeria]
father: bâ
mother: yâ

Kikamba- [Kenya]
Father - tata
Mother- mwaitu
Also, grandmother- Umau and grandfather -Susu

Kikongo – [Democratic Republic of the Congo]
Father = papá , poppa
Mother = mama, mamá

Kikuyu – [Kenya]
“Ithe, (plural) ma-ithe – father
This is an interesting word because it translates as ‘their father.’ You use it when you are referring to other peoples’ father. You never use it when you are referring to your own father, in which case you will say ‘Baba.’

Nyina, (Plural) Manyina – mother
Like ‘Ithe’ this word translates as ‘their mother’. When you are referring to your own mother you use the word ‘Maitũ.’”

Kinyawanda [Rwanda]
"umutegarugori (aba-) n - mother who has just given birth , from gutega urugori

mawe (ba -) n 1. my mother 2. our mother (Used when addressing one's mother)

nyina (ba -) /nyina/ n mother or maternal aunt of someone or something else

nyoko (ba -) /nyoko/ n mother or maternal aunt of person being spoken to [rude]

mama (ba -) /maamâ/ mother or maternal aunt of person speaking (Commonly used to refer to anyone's mother)

dawe (ba -) n my father 2. our father (Used when addressing one's father)
se (ba -) /sê (also ise) father or paternal uncle of someone else

se - his father

so (ba -) n (also iso) father or paternal uncle of person being spoken to
so wanyu - your paternal uncle

data (ba -) /daatâ/ n father or paternal uncle of person speaking
data - my father

Kirundi [Burundi]
adopted father

(my, our) dāta, dāwe
(your) so
(his, her, their) se
(~-in-law) sebukwe
(~ of twins) sebabiri

mother (dearly loved) māma w'umukōndo
(my, our) māma, māwe
(your) nyōko (sometimes with negative implication)
(his, her, their) nyina

KiSwahili (also known as Swahili) [Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda]
father = baba
Mother = mama
Read the comment in the entry on Luo below, and also read the entry about Sheng in Part II.

Lingala (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
dad, father = papá, -
mama, noun, pl. bamama = mom, mother, Mrs.

Luganda [Uganda]
Father = Taata
Mother = Maama "Easy Luganda language"

Luo (Dholuo) [Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan]
"Father, baba (ABO says, wuoro. Baba is Kiswahili.)
Mother, mama (ABO says, dhako or miyo as well. Mama is Kiswahili.) "Luo (Dholuo) Phrases and Basics"
I’m not sure what "ABO" means in this quote. I wondered if "ABO" meant the words that Luos used for "mother" and "father" before that language was influenced by Swahili. I decided to look up what Wikipedia said the Luo words for "mother" and "father" are. Here's the information from that site:
Father wuor [Dinka] wur
Mother min [Dinka] mor

Here's a comment that I found by googling this subject: "How do I say mother or grandmother in your language?
by Jennifer Ruwart | May 17, 2008 at 9:51 PM

"On May 17, 2008, Leila wrote:
In my language Luo,mother is called 'mama' and in Kiswahili too.
Grandmother in Luo is 'dani'
Grandmother in Kiswahili is 'nyanya'.In Kikuyu,another Kenyan language,grandmother is cucu,with a puctuation like this ~ on top of the u.It is pronounced shosho.

In kiswahili 'sheng' a different Kiswhili used by young people,mother is 'masa' or 'madhe'. Grandmother in Kiswahili sheng is 'nyanye'.”

This concludes Part I.

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  1. Thank you for sharing your research!

    1. You're welcome.

      And thanks for your comment.

      I appreciate it. Props for your name, and much respect if you are the Mellie Mel of Hip Hop fame.

  2. thanks for this

  3. Replies
    1. I'm sorry, Unknown.

      I looked online for the Fang words for "mother" and "father", but couldn't find them.

      Hopefully, someone will add them to this compilation.