The name of the language

The most comprehensive list of the world's languages is the Ethnologue, which contains listings for over 7,000 languages at the last count. However if you search its website for 'Cicipu' then you won't find anything.

There is in fact an entry for Cicipu under the name 'Western Acipa' (three-letter code AWC). This is an unfortunate choice for two reasons. First, it suggests the language is closely related to the nearby language known as 'Eastern Acipa', but Steve and Sonia Dettweiler showed this was not the case back in 1992. Secondly, 'Acipa' is not a word in any language. It is an Anglicised contraction of the Hausa ethonym 'Acipawa', or the corresponding Hausa term for the language 'Acipanci'. The autonyms (i.e. how the people refer to themselves in their mother tongue) are Cipu (one person), Acipu (the people), and Cicipu (the language). These terms have no negative connotations, and since so little has been written about 'Western Acipa', there seems little point in continuing to use a confusing and inaccurate name. A request to change the name to 'Cicipu' was accepted in January 2009 by the body governing the ISO-639-3 codes for languages. This will trickle down into the Ethnologue eventually, probably in 2013.

Incidentally, the name 'Sagamuk' was used in the Index of Nigerian Languages (Crozier and Blench 1992) and the accompanying language map, but this was an error (although the location on the map is correct). It is still not entirely clear what 'Sagamuk' actually refers to, although according to Katharine Spencer it may be a variety of the nearby Kamuku language. The Dettweilers' survey report give 'Sagamuk' as the autonym of the Eastern Acipa language.