As the birthplace of humanity, Africa is brimming with diverse ethnolinguistic groups, most of which people in other continents have never heard of. The Nubians are an exception—their impressively long history, dating back to at least 6000 BC, put them alongside the flourishing Ancient Egyptian civilization to their north. Ancient Egypt was supplanted during the Muslim conquest of Egypt in the 600s AD, and their language lives on today only in the form of Coptic, used solely as a liturgical language, but the Nubians have maintained their culture and languages.
Rather than a single language, Nubian represents a collection of about 11 closely related languages derived from the ancient tongue of the Nubian people, with Nobiin, accounting for around 650,000 speakers, by far the largest. In fact, Nobiin is considered the direct descendant of the historical Old Nubian language. Even though the Nubian languages persist today, spoken in Egypt and Sudan, they’re under threat from Arabic, the lingua franca in both countries. With Nubians having been largely Arabized, usage of Nubian has been continuously eroding. At TranslationServices.com, we recognize the tragedy in letting these culturally and historically precious languages fade away, so we put together our own Nubian translation team.
Thinking about Nubian translation services? Why not get in touch and ask about a free quote today?
A closer look at the modern-day Nubian languages
Nubian languages form a subbranch of the Nilo–Saharan language family, which also features languages like Maasai, Songhay, Dinka, Dholuo, and Nuer. Today, in total, around 900,000 people in southern Egypt and northern Sudan speak Nubian languages, the majority of whom are native speakers of Nobiin. Nubian languages can be written in multiple scripts: historically, the Old Nubian writing system was used, but the Arabic script took over when the Nubians were Arabized. Today, the Latin alphabet is most common, but recent pushes to cement the Old Nubian alphabet as the standard writing system may change how Nubian is written.
Here’s a list of the biggest Nubian languages:
Kenzi (Kenuzi, Kunuz, Mattokki)
Hill Nubian (Kordofan Nubian)
Nubian grammar is complex—so much so, in fact, that Egypt used Nubian code talkers during the October War. Verbs come at the end of Nubian sentences in a subject-object-verb word order, and pronouns may be omitted because verbs include obligatory person marking. Objects, both direct and indirect, are marked with the same suffix, although the suffix takes different forms depending on the final consonant of the word. Nubian uses interrogative suffixes to indicate questions, with separate forms for w-questions and yes-or-no questions.
Our Nubian translators are eager to work with you.
With Nubian’s rich history and cultural significance, it’s no wonder our translators are so proud to help outsiders connect with their people. We offer Nubian translation services both to and from the language for any number of translation needs. Here are just a few:
Historical documents: Nubian’s written history spans millennia. If you want to share some historical Nubian documents with the rest of the world, lean on our team to translate old documents in various scripts seamlessly into clear English.
Literary works: We’re eager to assist anyone who wants to translate traditional (or contemporary) Nubian tales to share with the world. But that’s not all—anyone who’d like to produce more quality content in Nubian by having their books, poems, or modern media like websites or games translated into Nubian should reach out to our team.
Educational materials: Considering the recent push to solidify the traditional Nubian alphabet as the modern Nubian writing system, educational materials in the language are of prime importance. Our Nubian translators can help those wishing to translate English pedagogical content into Nubian (in whichever script you prefer) and help Nubian-speaking children earn an education in their language.
Whatever your Nubian translation needs may be, our team is here to help. If you’d like to discuss your project, get in touch with us today!