The Nooni language is spoken by approx. 64,000 speakers (Cameroon Geographical Information Service (CAMGIS) 2012 census for the Nkor-Noni Council) inhabiting approximately 300 square kilometres in the Noni Subdivision, Bui Division of the North West Region of Cameroon.

Nooni is a Niger-Congo language and further classified as Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Beboid (ISO 639-3 language code: nhu).

While dialect differences exist between the geographic areas typically referred to as “Upper Noni” and “Lower Noni”, the essential unity and understanding of the language is attested to by speakers from both areas.

It is to be noted that the language is referred to as “Nooni” while the people are referred to as “Noni”.

The main Noni villages are Djottin, Din, Dom (Bvugoy), Nkor, Lassin (Laan), and Mbinon (Tfuu), with each village having various quarters and outlying areas. There are significant numbers of Noni people living outside the Noni area, both in Cameroon and internationally.

The Nooni alphabet was formally adopted by the Nooni Language Committee on July 27, 1992 at Nkali-Din. The alphabet conforms to the General Alphabet of Cameroon Languages. This General Alphabet was adopted on March 9, 1979 in Yaounde in an effort to harmonise and unify all Cameroon language alphabets.

This Nooni-English Dictionary and English-Nooni Index, 2016 Edition has been prepared primarily for speakers of the Nooni language, though it will also be of interest to non-Nooni speakers who desire to learn or study the language. The dictionary will serve to:


  • establish a written tradition among the Noni people.
  • establish standards for spelling words, punctuation, and clarifying word boundaries in conformity with the Nooni Orthography Guide of 2014.
  • preserve Nooni words that may fall into disuse as time passes and language shift occurs.
  • be a resource book or reference source for all teachers and students of the Nooni language.
  • help non-Nooni speakers learn to understand and appreciate Nooni as a spoken and written language.
  • help language researchers who seek word lists of an African language.
  • raise the status of the Nooni language as it joins the ranks of all other written languages throughout the world.
  • Facilitate the development of lexicons in the six neighboring Misaje languages (Nchane, Sari, Mungong, Kemedzung, Naami, Chung) as they are linguistically related to Nooni.

For the past forty years, various people have compiled lists of Nooni words. Fr. Engelbert KOFON included lists of Nooni words in his 1976 publication: Noni Grammar Simplified, 3 Vols. Russell Richards (1991, Phonologie de trois langues beboides du Cameroun: Noone, Ncanti et Sari.) and Prof. Larry Hyman (Noni Grammatical Structure, 1980) conducted linguistic research and wrote Nooni words or compiled lists of Nooni words. The process of developing this Nooni-English Dictionary and English-Nooni Index has taken many years as well. The first Provisional Nooni-English Lexicon was published in 1993 by David Lux. It contained approximately 1500 Nooni words. Many of its original entries were collected with the aid of the Inventaire Thématique de 2000 Termes (Grebe et al. 1987). From 1993 onward, new entries were added to the lexicon by SIL personnel and by technical team members of the Nooni Bible translation team. In May 2001 this team attended an SIL-sponsored lexicon workshop held in Yaounde and a significant number of new entries were added.

In January 2004 a three day dictionary development workshop was held at the Noni Literacy Centre at Nkor where approximately twenty Noni men and women from all the Noni villages identified hundreds of previously unwritten words, expressions, geographic sites, personal names, idioms and ideophones. The Dictionary Development Program developed by SIL linguist Ronald Moe served as the basis for collecting these new entries.

In March 2009 a second dictionary development workshop was again held at the Noni Literacy Centre at Nkor. This workshop was attended by approximately fifteen Noni men and women who contributed various new entries and helped to revise existing entries to make them more accurate. Dr. Roger Blench of the Kay Williamson Educational Foundation helped the participants to accurately identify various birds, insects, animals, and reptiles, as well as indigenous musical instruments. Scientific or technical names were assigned to these where they could be validated with a fair degree of certainty.

The work of revising the Nooni Dictionary continued throughout 2015 in an effort to add to, verify and clarify individual entries, include additional illustrative sentences and verb forms, and format the entire work.

David Lux