AND WHERE SPOKEN
Songhai is classed within the Songhai branch of Nilo-Saharan, but the relationship of this branch with the others of Nilo-Saharan is contested. According to Nicolaï (personal communication, 1986), Songhai is composed of two distinct dialect groups. Southern Songhai is spoken principally along the Niger River from Djenne in Mali to the north of Benin (le dendi); it is also found in several places in the northwest of Nigeria, in several villages of Burkina Faso, and even in several urban quarters, of which the most southern is Salaga of Ghana. Northern Songhai is spoken by sedentary populations in the region of InGall, in the southern Algerian oasis of Tabelbala, and by the nomadic populations in the region of Menaka (Mali), Abala, and Abalak (Niger).
2 NUMBER OF SPEAKERS
For Southern Songhai, Nicolaï (1980), using the Annuaire statistique du Niger (1978-79), estimates for Niger 1.12 million. He adds the figure of 400,000 for Mali and notes that 4 percent of the population of Benin and small numbers in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Ghana also speak Songhai. As for Northern Songhai speakers, Nicolaï states that their number probably does not exceed 10,000. Tersis (1981) and UBS (1982) note 700,000 presumably first-language speakers. The 1972 Niger census notes 1.001 million "Djerma Songhai" speakers, a figure which includes second-language speakers. Heine (1970) also reports a figure of more than one million total speakers. Grimes (1996) cites a figure of 1,112,700 speakers of Songhai. World Almanac (1998) estimates 2 million speakers of Zarma (Dyerma), which Grimes (1996) lists separately. Grimes (1996) estimates 72,000 speakers of Dendi.
3 DIALECT SURVEY
Nicolaï, in Les dialectes du songhay (1981), notes six major dialects of Southern Songhai, four major dialects of Northern Songhai, and two independent dialect clusters.
Songhai is a significant regional as well as a national language of Niger. It is broadcast over Radio-diffusion du Mali and La voix du Sahel in Niger.
An orthography was adopted at the 1966 UNESCO meeting in Bamako, Mali (see bibliography) and amended by the Services Nigerians.
SETS OF LEARNING MATERIALS
One set of materials would appear to be sufficient for the learning of Southern Songhai.
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