The Phuien language has not been the subject of prolific linguistic research. But, it is a language that has many interesting qualities. It consists of a high number of phonemes (50). It is spoken using a wide variety of words and expressions, many of which are found in this dictionary.

A draft of a primer was produced by speakers of the language prior to 1990. The primer was distributed to some people, but no official literacy program was started. In 1996, Kevin and Anita Warfel of SIL Burkina Faso moved to the Phuien region and began to help with the development of the language. Working in conjunction with Lucien Malo and other members of the Phuien language community, they produced an alphabet booklet, a songbook, calendars, a primer and other literacy materials.

In 2005, Jacques Malo of ANTBA (National Bible Translation and Literacy Association) began to lead the development project, with the team focusing on the translation of the New Testament and holding literacy classes.

A dictionary, according to Webster, is a collection of words in a language arranged in alphabetical order followed by their definition or a translation into another language.

A dictionary has several advantages, both for speakers and for non-speakers. This Phuien-French bilingual dictionary provides Phuien speakers with a reference document, gives the Phuien language a standard written form, facilitates the translation of Phuien into French, and enables linguists to make comparative lexical studies.

This dictionary contains a variety of words among which are:

  • Phuien words translated into their French equivalents:
Phuien English gloss French gloss
arʋ̀ three trois
khɛ̃ door cover couvre-porte
kpèekpeé type of bird espèce d'oiseau
ɲuó head la tête
vió granary le grenier
  • Assimilated loanwords:
buru bread le pain
mobili vehicle le véhicule
  • Paraphrastic terms:
Fɛla hʋ̃? Is everything fine? Tout va bien?
ɲìbi-ɓugì-lurié redeemer rédempteur


In January, 2011, Kevin Warfel held a Rapid Word Collection workshop in Bonzan to augment the database that would be used to produce a Phuien-French dictionary. A group of more than 40 speakers of the language participated in the workshop and collected more than 13,000 Phuien words.

The effort of each one involved in that event is greatly appreciated. Since that event, the database has been expanding. Thus far, work on the database has been focused mainly on the verbs, ensuring that each one is spelled correctly.

This webonary dictionary is still being revised. Please leave your comments on the Contact Us page, keeping in mind that we are aware of many errors apart from the verbs but have not yet had time to correct them. If you see a mistake involving a verb, we would be grateful to hear about it.