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Native speakers8.7 million  (2014)
Language family

Osuri is an isolating tonal click language spoken in northeastern Tabiqa in Osuria, and small areas of Ebo Nganagam ((probably)).



Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Click x q ý
Nasal click ḿ ń ñ
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive p b t d k g
Fricative v [ɸ] ŧ đ s z c j h ɣ f
Liquid w~β l r y

<c j> are actually postalveolar /ʃ ʒ/, not palatal. [ɸ~ʍ] is possibly analyzed as a marginal phoneme, otherwise as an allophone of /hw/ and /wh/. /v/ can appear as [f] after sibilant fricatives. /n/ deletes word-finally after nasal vowels.


Front Central Back
Close ì í ù ú ũ û
Near-close ĩ î
Close-mid è é ó
Open-mid ẽ ê ò õ ô
Open à á ã â


CV preferred, however, onset CC and coda CC are permitted (but not on the same syllable) and nucleic VV is also permitted. A single syllable may not have more than 4 sounds and a syllable boundary within a root may not exceed a cluster of 3 consonants.

Clicks can only occur in the first or second syllable, only in onsets, and never within a cluster.




Nouns mark number (singular/paucal/plural) and take an article indicating definiteness (indefinite, definite, construct state) and alienability (alienable, inalienable, nonpossessable). Inalienable nouns are obligatorially possessed. Quantified nouns take classifiers and are not marked for paucal/plural.

While nouns do not show case, pronouns have nominative, accusative, dative, and possessive forms. (There are separate possessive pronouns for the three alienability classes.)

Attributive adjectives agree with the definiteness of their noun and can, optionally, replace the article. Predicative adjectives can be formed by affixing a verbalizer to the adjective and then treating it like a normal verb.

Verbs are mostly marked by clitics and auxiliaries instead of affixes. The preclitics cover the seven moods (declarative/indicative, imperative, debitive, probabilitive, subjunctive, capacitative, and conditional), and negation. The postclitics cover valency (transitive, intransitive, existential/copular, passive, and three applicatives), tense (past/present/future), and aspect (simple, progressive, perfective, cessative, inceptive, iterative).


ISVO is the unmarked word order. First and second person subject pronouns are marked directly on the verb as suffixes, while third and fourth (obviative) are standalone.