Siamou language

Siamou, also known as Sɛmɛ (Seme), is a language spoken mainly in Burkina Faso. It is unclassified within the Niger–Congo language family.

Native toBurkina Faso
Native speakers
40,000 (ca. 1999)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3sif

The speakers call themselves Seme. The Jula exonym is Siamou.[3]


Siamou is traditionally classed as Kru. However, according to Roger Blench (2013) and Pierre Vogler (2015), the language bears little resemblance to Kru.[4][3] Güldemann (2018) also leaves out Siamou as unclassified within Niger-Congo.[5]

Like the SOV Senufo languages, but unlike the SVO Central Gur languages, Siamou word order is SOV.[5]

Geographical distributionEdit

In 1999, it was spoken by 20,000 people in western Burkina Faso and another 20,000 in the Ivory Coast and Mali.[1] In Burkina Faso, it is mainly spoken in the province of Kénédougou, around the provincial capital Orodara and the surrounding villages of Bandougou, Didéri, Diéri, Diéridéni, Diossogou, Kotoudéni, Lidara, and Tin.[3] Siamou has one major dialect, Bandougou. In addition, there are minor dialectal differences among the Siamou spoken in Orodara and in surrounding villages. It is also spoken in Toussiana Department of Burkina Faso.

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Prost, André. 1964. Contribution à l’étude des langues voltaiques. Dakar: IFAN.
  • Traoré, Kotalama. 1984. Eléments de phonologie dimensionnelle du Seme. Ouagadougou: Université de Ouagadougou MA thesis.
  • Traoré, Kotalama. 1985. Recherche sur la structure de l’enonce Seme. Nice: Université de Nice MA thesis.
  • Traoré, Kalifa & Nadine Bednarz. 2008. Mathématiques construites en contexte: une analyse du système de numération oral utilisé par les Siamous au Burkina Faso. Nordic Journal of African Studies 17(3). 175–197.
  • Toews, Carmela I. P. 2010. Siamou future expressions. In Melinda Heijl (ed.), Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Canadian Linguistics Association 2010, 1‒12. Montréal: Concordia University.
  • Toews, Carmela I. P. 2015. Topics in Siamou tense and aspect. Vancouver: University of British Columbia dissertation.


  1. ^ a b Siamou at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Siamou". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c Vogler, Pierre. 2015. Le sèmè/siamou n’est pas une langue kru.
  4. ^ Blench (2013:50)
  5. ^ a b Güldemann, Tom (2018). "Historical linguistics and genealogical language classification in Africa". In Güldemann, Tom (ed.). The Languages and Linguistics of Africa. The World of Linguistics series. 11. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 58–444. doi:10.1515/9783110421668-002. ISBN 978-3-11-042606-9.