1.  Classification / Classification

Temne is a Mel language (southern branch of the West Atlantic branch of Niger Congo). (Webbook)

Ethnologue lists the classification as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Atlantic, Southern, Mel, Temne, Temne-Banta

Some alternate spellings (from Ethnologue and Wikipedia): Themne, Timne, Timene, Timmannee, Temen

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

It is spoken in the northern half of Sierra Leone. (Webbook)

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to Ethnologue:

  • 1,200,000 (1989 J. Kaiser)
  • 240,000 second-language speakers (1981 D. Cranmer)

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

Cranmer (1980) did a preliminary survey for the United Bible Societies, Magburka, Sierra Leone. Most available Temne materials are in either the Western or Bombali dialect. (Webbook)

Accoeding to Ethnologue:

  • Banta
  • Konike
  • Yoni
  • Bombali
  • Western Temne (Pil)
  • Sanda
  • Ribia
  • Kholifa
  • Koya
  • Masingbi
  • Malal
  • The people claim to understand all dialects
  • Lexical similarity 74% between Masingbi and Malal, 70% between Konike and western varieties.

5.  Usage / Utilisation

Temne is one of the four official languages of Sierra Leone. It is also used as a lingua franca in predominantly Temne-speaking areas. Radio broadcasts are heard daily in Temne in Sierra Leone. (Webbook)

Notes from Ethnologue:

  • Trade language
  • The primary language of central Sierra Leone
  • Taught as an elective from primary to college level
  • Literacy rate (according to Ethnologue, accessed 2007):
    • L1: ?
    • L2: 6% (25% use Krio, 5% use English as second language)

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

Nemer notes "a new orthography was developed as part of the 'Literacy Programme for the Indigenous Languages' in 1980 by the Ministry of Education in Sierra Leone. This orthography has been used in three primary school readers, a word list and a number of health pamphlets as of this date." (Webbook) [update]

It is a Latin-based orthography that includes some extended characters..

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

Alphabet as reported by Hartell (1993) and presented in Systèmes alphabétiques: http://sumale.vjf.cnrs.fr/phono/AfficheTableauOrtho2N.php?choixLangue=themne

A sample text is shown on the "Language Museum" site: http://www.language-museum.com/t/themne.htm (this is an excerpt from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [see below, 7c]; it is not clear if the diacritic shown is standard)

A proposed orthography from a workshop in 1980 follows (UCC/UMC 1980) [NB- not clear on current status]:

7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

Unicode fonts with extended Latin ranges would be necessary.

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

7.3  Content on computers & internet / Contenu en informatique et sur l'Internet

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/tej.htm

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

Not aware of any localisation efforts.

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue

  • ISO 639-1: -
  • ISO 639-2: tem
  • ISO 639-3: tem

7.6  Other / Autre

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile

9.  Comments / Remarques

10.  References / Références

Chanard, Christian (2006), Systèmes alphabétiques des langues africaines, LLACAN, CNRS, http://sumale.vjf.cnrs.fr/phono/

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, http://africa.isp.msu.edu/afrlang/hiermenu.htm

 (page on "Temne," http://africa.isp.msu.edu/afrlang/Temne_root.html )

Hartell, Rhonda L., ed. (1993), The Alphabets of Africa. Dakar: UNESCO and SIL. (The French edition, published the same year, is entitled Alphabets de Langues Africaines).

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Themne," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/tem

SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables," http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp

UCC and UMC. 1980. "A Themne Orthography Workshop, Ministry of Education, Freetown, February 18-22, 1980 / sponsored by the U.C.C. Provincial Literature Bureau and the United Methodist Literacy Programme."

U.S. Library of Congress, "ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages: Alpha-3 codes arranged alphabetically by the English name of language," http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/English_list.php

Wikipedia, "Temne language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temne_language

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Categories: Languages, Sierra Leone