Soninke (Sooninkanxanne)

Soninke is a Mande language spoken mainly in Mali, and also in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Ghana, by about 2.1 million people. Soninke has national language status in Mali, Senegal and Mauritania. The closest related languages are the Bozo languages of Mali and Nigeria.

There is a tradition of oral literature in Soninke, but the language is rarely written. When it is written, versions of the Latin or Arabic alphabets are used. A Latin-based orthography has been in official use in Mali since 1982.

Soninke alphabet and pronunciation (Sooninkanxannen sigiru)

Soninke alphabet and pronunciation


Sample text in Soninke

Ñiiñen ni an menjannen ya

Ñiiñen ni an menjaŋŋen ya, awa an da xo saaxe. A na i funcun do i ñiimun kini an ŋa, an ga bireene ti i ya. A wa sokken kinni naaburu, i ga bireene yi. Yittun wa bakka a yi, an gan guppen do an soxurexen do an taaxaadun golliñaana ti I ya. An ga na ñi an yinben kumunu, an faayi suwan ya wutu. Ke ñiiñe baane ya ni o mini jin marana i noxon na. Xo an saaxa, a wa mulla an ga i sorogono, an ga i laabandini, an ga i xanunu.”

An nan xawa manne ñaana a dan na ? An ga na gunnen yittun su soppi, an ga da i bedegun su buyi, a yi xo an ga da an ma faten duuron wara wuron mullen noxon ŋa.

French translation

La terre, c’est ton amie

La terre, c’est ton amie : elle est comme une mère pour toi. Elle te donne ses graines et ses racines avec lesquelles tu te nourris. Elle donne l’herbe aux animaux pour qu’ils se nourrissent. Elle fait pousser les arbres avec lesquels tu fabriques ta hutte, ton lit et ton siège. Pour allumer ton feu, c’est du bois que tu utilises. C’est cette même terre qui garde en son sein l’eau que nous buvons. Comme ta mère, elle veut que tu t’occupes d’elle, que tu la tiennes propre, que tu l’aimes.

Que dois-tu faire pour elle ? Si tu coupes tous les arbres de la brousse et que tu brûles tous les arbustes, c’est comme si tu laissais ta mère sans vêtement dans le froid de la nuit.


English translation

The earth is your friend

The earth is your friend: she is like a mother to you. It gives you its seeds and roots with which you get fed. It gives the grass the animals to feed on. She grows trees with whom you doing your hut, your bed and your seat. To light your fire, it's wood you use. It is this same earth that keeps within it the water we drink. As your mother, she wants you to take care of her, you own her, you love her.

What should you do for her? If you cut all the trees in the bush and that you burn all the bushes, it's like you let your mother without clothing in the cold of the night.

English translation of sample text supplied by Michael Peter Füstumum

Information about Soninke | Numbers | Tower of Babel


Information about Soninkeé_(langue)

Mande languages

Bambara, Busa, Dan, Dioula, Kpelle, Loma, Mandinka, Maninka, Mano, Mende, Soninke, Susu, Vai

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 23.04.21


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