The languages of the Tula – Waja Group

(Ulrich Kleinewillinghöfer 2012, revised October 2014)

  1. Kutule                      a. Wange; b. Baule
  2. Yiri (Yili)

local variants


Kaalo; Naabaŋ


local variants

  1. Dijim of Kindiyo
  2. Bwilim (of Mɔna and Loojaa)
TSO (Lotsu-Piri)
  1. Tso of the Swaabou
  2. Tso of the Bərbou
  3.  a. Tso of the Gusubo
    b.  Tso of Luuzo
  1.  Waja of Wɩɩ (Wajan Kasa)              local variants
  2.  Waja of Deri (Wajan Dutse)            two variants


Tula: Tula comprises three distinct groups; each is speaking its own dialect. The two largest Wange and Baule have much more in common than either of them with Yili:
- Tula-Wange [kutule] comprises several hamlets on the Tula Plateau, probably including the descendants of the oldest settlers.
- Tula-Baule, a people possibly of Chadic origin who are said to have arrived on the Tula Plateau and adopted the Tula language (SNP 10 - 715P/1913).
- Tula-Yiri or Yili, the smallest of the three groups. They are commonly referred to as Yiri, yet their own phonemic inventory has no /r/.

Dadiya [dadiya] is spoken in one ward of Bambam, comprising the residence of the Emir of Dadiya, and in several villages in the central part of the Muri Mountains. The former settlements were located on the slopes of the northern ridge of the Muri Mountains (e.g. LɔɔKwila, LɔɔFiyo, LɔɔBwarɛ, LɔɔKulakuli), in the Loo Basin between the northern and southern ridge (e.g. LɔɔTip, LɔɔFaa), and in the foothills south of the Muri Mountains (Tunga and Bollere). No distinct dialect areas are known, though phonological differences between the Dadiya spoken in the various settlements are noted.

Bangwinji. The Báŋjìŋèb (sg: Báŋjìŋè) settled in two areas called Kaalɔ́  and Naabáŋ on the northern slopes of the Muri Mountains. Each spoke its own variant. It remains to be seen whether or not the differences will be maintained in the common new settlements in the plains.

Yebu = Awak. The Yebu settled in five distinct settlements on the Awak Hill. Each settlement spoke a distinct variant of their common language. When the Yebu moved down to new settlements in the surrounding plains they maintained their former settlement patterns. In 1995 when the research was conducted there were still five distinct Yebu variants spoken.

Ma [nyii ma] = Kamo. The Ma or Kamo people abandoned their hamlets on Kamo Hill in the course of the last century and settled in the adjacent plains. Distinct dialect areas are not known.

Cham. The people called Cham by their neighbours don't have any other name which includes all the sections nor their dialects. There are two dialect areas and three sections:
- Dijim [Dijím] - spoken by the Cham of and around Kindiyo (modern Cham town).
- Bwilim [Bwilím] - spoken by the Cham of and around Mɔna (Mwona, Mwana).
- a variant of Bwilim is also spoken by the Jalaabe at and around Loojaa. They formerly spoke Jalaa (or Jaa), which they finally gave up in the first half of last century. The last rememberers are in their eighties. (Kleinewillinghöfer (2001, (2011))

Tso. The Tsobo [tsó-bó] people (= Pire ~ Fire in colonial records, Lotsu-Piri in Hansford et al.1976) are an ethnic unit with three (or four ?) distinct sub groups. These are the Bərbou, Swaabou, Gusobu. The people of Luuzo, a settlement, may be a subsection of the Gusobu. They all say they speak Tso [nyi tsó], which thus appears to be a dialect cluster comprising three (or four) distinct variants. We call these variants by the self-appellation of the respective group: There are remarkable differences between the variants foremost in the lexicon, but also phonologically. The major reason for the lexical diversity is a custom whereby the name of a dead ought not to be called in the presence of his relatives or in his locality. (Kleinewillinghöfer 1995). In 1995 Swaabou people in Suwa stated that they find it difficult to converse with Gusobu people.

Waja [nyan wɩʋ̀]. The Waja are the largest ethnic group within Tula-Waja. Accordingly their language also has the  largest number of speakers. Waja has two main dialect areas:
(i) the variants spoken in the plains by the Wɩyáà (Wajan Kasa) with (slight) variations in the ten settlements. The main settlement and seat of the Emir of Waja is Talasse;
(ii) the two variants spoken in Deri by the Derúwò (Hill Waja or Wajan Dutse). The lareger variant is spoken in Putoki, Kulani and one part of Degri, and the other in Sikkam and the other part of Degri.

Tula - Waja pronouns and numbers

Tula-Waja comparative wordlist (100)

Tula-Waja Group