Adlam script


The Adlam script is a script used to write Fulani.[2] The name Adlam is an acronym derived from the first four letters of the alphabet (A, D, L, M), standing for Alkule Dandayɗe Leñol Mulugol (𞤀𞤤𞤳𞤵𞤤𞤫 𞤁𞤢𞤲𞤣𞤢𞤴𞤯𞤫 𞤂𞤫𞤻𞤮𞤤 𞤃𞤵𞤤𞤵𞤺𞤮𞤤[3]), which means "the alphabet that protects the peoples from vanishing". It is one of many indigenous scripts developed for specific languages in West Africa.[4]

Adlam Pular
𞤀𞤣𞤤𞤢𞤥 𞤆𞤵𞤤𞤢𞤪
Script type
CreatorIbrahima Barry and Abdoulaye Barry
Time period
Directionright-to-left script Edit this on Wikidata
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Adlm, 166 Edit this on Wikidata, ​Adlam
Unicode alias

Adlam is supported in Google's Android and Chrome operating systems. There are also Android apps to send SMS in Adlam and to learn the alphabet.[5] On computers running Microsoft Windows, the Adlam script is natively supported beginning with Windows 10 version 1903, which was released in May 2019.


Adlam in Adlam script
ADLaM acronym

While teenagers in the late 1980s, brothers Ibrahima and Abdoulaye Barry devised the alphabetic script to transcribe the Fulani language.[3][6] After several years of development it began to be widely adopted among Fulani communities, and is currently taught not only regionally in Guinea, Nigeria, and Liberia but even as far as Europe and the United States.[1]


Adlam has both upper and lower cases.

Capital Minuscule Latin Arabic Letter Name[3] IPA[7]
𞤀 𞤢 a ا a a
𞤁 𞤣 d د da d
𞤂 𞤤 l ل la l
𞤃 𞤥 m م ma m
𞤄 𞤦 b ب ba b
𞤅 𞤧 s س sa s
𞤆 𞤨 p pa p
𞤇 𞤩 ɓ (bh) bha ɓ
𞤈 𞤪 r ر ra r/ɾ
𞤉 𞤫 e è e
𞤊 𞤬 f ف fa f
𞤋 𞤭 i i i
𞤌 𞤮 o ö ɔ
𞤍 𞤯 ɗ (dh) dha ɗ
𞤎 𞤰 ƴ (yh) yha ʔʲ
𞤏 𞤱 w و w
𞤐 𞤲 n, any syllable-final nasal ن na n
𞤑 𞤳 k ك ka k
𞤒 𞤴 y ي ya j
𞤓 𞤵 u ou u
𞤔 𞤶 j ج dja
𞤕 𞤷 c tcha
𞤖 𞤸 h ح ha h
𞤗 𞤹 ɠ (q) ق gha q
𞤘 𞤺 g ga ɡ
𞤙 𞤻 ñ (ny) gna ɲ
𞤚 𞤼 t ت ta t
𞤛 𞤽 ŋ (nh) nha ŋ
Supplemental: for other languages or for loanwords
𞤜 𞤾 v va v
𞤝 𞤿 x (kh) خ kha x
𞤞 𞥀 ɡb gbe ɡ͡b
𞤟 𞥁 z ذ zal z
𞤠 𞥂 kp kpo k͡p
𞤡 𞥃 sh ش sha ʃ

The letters are found either joined akin to Arabic or separately - the joined form is commonly used in a cursive manner; however, separate or block forms are also used as primarily for educational content.[8]


Adlam has a number of diacritics. The 'consonant' modifier is used to derive additional consonants, mostly from Arabic, similar to e.g. s > š in Latin script.

Diacritic Description
◌𞥄 long 'ā'; may be placed over the letter 'a', in which case 'ā' simply takes a different diacritic than other vowels do, or over a consonant, in which case the alif letter is not written at all
◌𞥅 long vowel (vowels except alif)
◌𞥆 long consonant (gemination)
◌𞥇 glottal stop, hamza (between the consonant it is placed over and the following vowel)
◌𞥈 consonant modifier (see the table below)
◌𞥉 long modified consonant
◌𞥊 dot (see the tables below)
𞥋 Used between n and another consonant to indicate that they constitute a prenasalized consonant

Usage of the consonant modifier:

Adlam letter with modifier Corresponding Arabic letter
𞤧𞥈 ص
𞤣𞥈 ض
𞤼𞥈 ط
𞤶𞥈 ظ
𞤢𞥈 ع
𞤺𞥈 غ
𞤸𞥈 ه

Usage of the dot to represent sounds borrowed from Arabic:

Adlam letter with dot Corresponding Arabic letter
𞤧𞥊 ث
𞤶𞥊 ز

Use of the dot with native letters:

Adlam letter with dot Pronunciation
𞤫𞥊 e, as opposed to è or ɛ; dot above
𞤫𞥊𞥅 long e; dot below and vowel lengthener above
𞤮𞥊 o, as opposed to ɔ
𞤮𞥊𞥅 long o, dot below and vowel lengthener above


Unlike in Arabic script, Adlam digits go in the same direction (right to left) as letters, as in the N'Ko script.

Adlam Hindu-Arabic
𞥐 0
𞥑 1
𞥒 2
𞥓 3
𞥔 4
𞥕 5
𞥖 6
𞥗 7
𞥘 8
𞥙 9


Adlam punctuation is like Spanish in that there are initial and final forms of the question mark and exclamation mark, which are placed before and after the questioned or exclaimed clause or phrase.

Adlam Latin
. .
: :
𞥟 … 𞥟 ¿ … ?
𞥞 … 𞥞 ¡ … !

The hyphen is used for word breaks, and there are both parentheses and double parentheses.


The Adlam alphabet was added to the Unicode Standard in June 2016 with the release of version 9.0. The Unicode block for Adlam is U+1E900–U+1E95F:

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+1E90x 𞤀 𞤁 𞤂 𞤃 𞤄 𞤅 𞤆 𞤇 𞤈 𞤉 𞤊 𞤋 𞤌 𞤍 𞤎 𞤏
U+1E91x 𞤐 𞤑 𞤒 𞤓 𞤔 𞤕 𞤖 𞤗 𞤘 𞤙 𞤚 𞤛 𞤜 𞤝 𞤞 𞤟
U+1E92x 𞤠 𞤡 𞤢 𞤣 𞤤 𞤥 𞤦 𞤧 𞤨 𞤩 𞤪 𞤫 𞤬 𞤭 𞤮 𞤯
U+1E93x 𞤰 𞤱 𞤲 𞤳 𞤴 𞤵 𞤶 𞤷 𞤸 𞤹 𞤺 𞤻 𞤼 𞤽 𞤾 𞤿
U+1E94x 𞥀 𞥁 𞥂 𞥃 𞥄 𞥅 𞥆 𞥇 𞥈 𞥉 𞥊 𞥋
U+1E95x 𞥐 𞥑 𞥒 𞥓 𞥔 𞥕 𞥖 𞥗 𞥘 𞥙 𞥞 𞥟
1.^ As of Unicode version 14.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points


  1. ^ a b Bach, Deborah; Lerner, Sara (July 29, 2019). "Adlam Comes Online". Microsoft. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  2. ^ Dalby, Andrew (1998). Dictionary of Languages. Columbia University Press.
  3. ^ a b c Everson, Michael (28 October 2014). "N4628R: Revised proposal for encoding the Adlam script in the SMP of the UCS" (PDF). Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  4. ^ Unseth, Peter. 2011. Invention of Scripts in West Africa for Ethnic Revitalization. In The Success-Failure Continuum in Language and Ethnic Identity Efforts, ed. by Joshua A. Fishman and Ofelia García, pp. 23–32. New York: Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ Winden Jangen Adlam: Cellphone Applications
  6. ^ Waddell, Kaveh (16 November 2016). "The Alphabet That Will Save a People From Disappearing". The Atlantic.
  7. ^ "Adlam alphabet". Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  8. ^ "Adlam/Pular script notes".

Further readingEdit

  • Aysha Sow (2021). Adlam Alphabet Learing Guide: in ten lessons (PDF). Winden Jangen.

External linksEdit

  • Winden Jangen, an organisation promoting Adlam
  • The Adlam Story – How Alphabet Changes Culture Archived 2018-08-21 at the Wayback Machine; Randall M. Hasson
  • Adlam at Omniglot, with a video pronouncing the basic letters
  • Adlam virtual keyboard
  • Latin-Adlam Transliterator
  • The ADLaM Alphabet for Our People - Talks at Google session guested by Barry brothers explaining the origins of their script
  • The brothers who created an alphabet - story from the BBC World Service