Belongs to the West Chadic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is one of the largest languages on the African continent, spoken as a first language by the original Hausa people and by people of Fula ancestry. Hausa is the majority language of much of northern Nigeria and the neighboring Republic of Niger. In addition, there is a sizable Hausa-speaking community in Sudan, dating from the British takeover of northern Nigeria at the turn of the 20th century.
Despite its wide range, Hausa has relatively limited dialect variation. Ethnologue identifies the following major dialect divisions:
• Eastern: Kano, Katagum, Hadejiya
• Western: Sokoto, Katsina, Gobirawa, Adarawa, Kebbawa, Zamfarawa
• Northern: Arewa, Arawa
Hausa has a complex phonological system characterized by tones in addition to large inventories of vowels and consonants.
Hausa has 10 vowel phonemes, i.e., sounds that differentiate word meaning. The vowels can be either short or long. Length makes a difference in word meaning. There are also two diphthongs /ai/ and /au/. In the table below long vowels are marked by a tilde. In the standard romanized writing system the letters i, e, a, u, o represent both short and long vowels.