Bambara language
Overview
 
Bambara, more correctly known as Bamanankan (ߓߡߊߣߊ߲ߞߊ߲), its designation in the language itself (literally 'Bamana(n) sound'), is a language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 spoken in Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 by as many as six million people (including second language users). The Bambara language is the mother tongue of the Bambara ethnic group, numbering about 4,000,000 people, but serves also as a lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 in Mali (it is estimated that about 80% of the population speaks it as a first or second language).
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Bambara, more correctly known as Bamanankan (ߓߡߊߣߊ߲ߞߊ߲), its designation in the language itself (literally 'Bamana(n) sound'), is a language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 spoken in Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 by as many as six million people (including second language users). The Bambara language is the mother tongue of the Bambara ethnic group, numbering about 4,000,000 people, but serves also as a lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 in Mali (it is estimated that about 80% of the population speaks it as a first or second language). It is an SOV language and has two tones.

Classification

Bambara belongs to a group of closely related languages called Manding
Manding languages
The Manding languages are a fairly mutually intelligible group of dialects or languages in West Africa, belonging to the Mande languages. Their best-known members are Bambara, the most widely spoken language in Mali; Mandinka, the main language of Gambia; Maninka or Malinké, a major language of...

, within the larger Mandé
Mande languages
The Mande languages are spoken in several countries in West Africa by the Mandé people and include Mandinka, Soninke, Bambara, Bissa, Dioula, Kagoro, Bozo, Mende, Susu, Yacouba, Vai, and Ligbi...

 group. It is closely related to Dioula
Dioula language
Jula is a Mande language spoken in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali. It is one of the Manding languages, and is most closely related to Bambara, being mutually intelligible with Bambara as well as Malinke. It is a trade language in West Africa and is spoken by millions of people, either as a...

 (or Jula), a language spoken or understood by fewer people in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso – also known by its short-form name Burkina – is a landlocked country in west Africa. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Côte d'Ivoire to the southwest.Its size is with an estimated...

, Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d'Ivoire
The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire or Ivory Coast is a country in West Africa. It has an area of , and borders the countries Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana; its southern boundary is along the Gulf of Guinea. The country's population was 15,366,672 in 1998 and was estimated to be...

 and The Gambia
The Gambia
The Republic of The Gambia, commonly referred to as The Gambia, or Gambia , is a country in West Africa. Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, surrounded by Senegal except for a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean in the west....

.

Alphabet and literature

It uses seven vowels and (the letters approximate their IPA equivalents).
Writing was introduced during the French
French colonial empire
The French colonial empire was the set of territories outside Europe that were under French rule primarily from the 17th century to the late 1960s. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the colonial empire of France was the second-largest in the world behind the British Empire. The French colonial empire...

 occupation and literacy is limited, especially in rural areas. Although written literature is only slowly evolving (due to the predominance of French as the "language of the educated"), there exists a wealth of oral literature
Oral history
Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of planned interviews...

, which is often tales of kings and heroes. This oral literature is mainly tradited by the "Griot
Griot
A griot or jeli is a West African storyteller. The griot delivers history as a poet, praise singer, and wandering musician. The griot is a repository of oral tradition. As such, they are sometimes also called bards...

s" (Jɛliw in Bambara) who are a mixture of storyteller
Storytelling
Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, images and sounds, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and in order to instill moral values...

s, praise singers and human history books who have studied the trade of singing and reciting for many years. Many of their songs are very old and are said to date back to the old kingdom of Mali.

Geographical distribution

Bambara is a national language of Mali, and also the most widely understood language in Mali.

Dialects

The main dialect is standard Bamara, which has significant influence from Western Maninkakan. Bambara has many local dialects. Some dialect variants: Somono, Segou, San, Beledugu, Ganadugu, Wasulu and Sikasso.

Jula
Dioula language
Jula is a Mande language spoken in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali. It is one of the Manding languages, and is most closely related to Bambara, being mutually intelligible with Bambara as well as Malinke. It is a trade language in West Africa and is spoken by millions of people, either as a...

 is a dialect in the Manding linguistic continuum
Manding languages
The Manding languages are a fairly mutually intelligible group of dialects or languages in West Africa, belonging to the Mande languages. Their best-known members are Bambara, the most widely spoken language in Mali; Mandinka, the main language of Gambia; Maninka or Malinké, a major language of...

 and is closely related to Bambara. It is a widely used trade language in West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

.

Writing

Since the 1970s Bambara has mostly been written in the Latin script, using some additional phonetic characters. The vowels are a, e, (formerly è), i, o, (formerly ò), u; accents can be used to indicate tonality. The former digraph ny is now written or ñ (Senegal). The ambiguous digraph "ng" represented both the [ŋɡ] sound of English "finger" and the [ŋ] of "singer". The 1966 Bamako spelling conventions render the latter sound as "ŋ".

The N'Ko
N'Ko
N'Ko is both a script devised by Solomana Kante in 1949 as a writing system for the Mande languages of West Africa, and the name of the literary language itself written in the script. The term N'Ko means 'I say' in all Manding languages....

 (ߒ'ߞߏ) alphabet is a script devised by Solomana Kante
Solomana Kante
Soulemayne Kante or Solomana Kante was an African writer and inventor of the N'Ko alphabet for the Mande languages of West Africa...

 in 1949 as a writing system for the Mande languages of West Africa; N’Ko means 'I say' in all Mande languages. Kante created N’Ko in response to what he felt were beliefs that Africans were a "cultureless people" since prior to this time there had been no indigenous African writing system for his language. N'ko came first into use in Kankan, Guinea as a Maninka alphabet and disseminated from there into other Mande-speaking parts of West Africa. N'ko and the Arabic script are still in use for Bambara, although the Latin script is much more common.

Grammar

Bambara belongs to a group of closely related languages called Manding (related to Mandinka
Mandinka language
The Mandinka language is a Mandé language spoken by millions of Mandinka people in Mali, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea-Bissau and Chad; it is the main language of The Gambia. It belongs to the Manding branch of Mandé, and is thus fairly...

, Mande
Mande
Mande may refer to:* Mandé peoples of western Africa* Mande languages* Manding, a term covering a subgroup of Mande peoples, and sometimes used for one of them, Mandinka* Garo people of northeastern India and northern Bangladesh...

 language group). It is an SOV language and has two (mid/standard and high) tones; e.g. sa 'death' vs. 'snake.' The typical argument structure of the language consists of a subject, followed by an aspectival auxiliary, followed by the direct object, and finally a transitive verb. Naturally, if the verb is intransitive, the direct object is not found.

Bambara does not inflect for gender. Gender for a noun can be specified by adding a suffix, -ce or -ke for male and -muso for female. The plural is formed by attaching -w to words.

Bambara uses postpositions in much the same manner as languages like English and French use prepositions. These postpositions are found after the verb and are used to express direction, location, and in some cases, possession.

Loan words

In urban areas, many Bambara conjunctions have been replaced in everyday use by French borrowings that often mark code-switches. The Bamako
Bamako
Bamako is the capital of Mali and its largest city with a population of 1.8 million . Currently, it is estimated to be the fastest growing city in Africa and sixth fastest in the world...

 dialect makes use of sentences like: N taara Kita mais il n'y avait personne là-bas. : I went to Kita [Bambara] but there was no one there [French]. The sentence in Bambara alone would be . The French proposition "est-ce que" is also used in Bambara; however, it is pronounced more slowly and as three syllables, [ɛsəkə].

Bambara uses many French loan words. For example, some people might say:
: "Your skirt is yellow" (using a derivation of the French word for yellow, jaune.)

However, one could also say:
, also meaning "your skirt is yellow." The original Bambara word for yellow comes from "neremugu," mugu being flour made from Néré
Parkia biglobosa
Parkia biglobosa or Néré is a tree of the genus Parkia in the family Fabaceae. In West Africa, its fruits are fermented to a condiment called "soumbala" or "dawa-dawa"....

, a seed from a long seed pod. Neremugu is often used in sauces in Southern Mali.

Most French loan words are suffixed with the sound 'i'; this is particularly common when using French words which have a meaning not traditionally found in Mali. For example, the Bambara word for snow
Snow
Snow is a form of precipitation within the Earth's atmosphere in the form of crystalline water ice, consisting of a multitude of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. It has an open and therefore soft structure, unless packed by...

 is niegei, based on the French word for snow neige. As there has never been snow in Mali, there has not been a traditional meaning for the word and thus no unique word in Bambara to describe it.

Examples

I understand/hear a little bit of Bambara (lit: I aux positive Bambara hear small-small)


?
Aren't you going to eat? (lit: you aux negative future eating do question particle)


Is Dou Mara still living in the USA? (lit: Dou Mara still America in live question particle)

Macire nana MALI la wa ? (did Macire come to Mali?)

Music

Malian artists such as Oumou Sangaré
Oumou Sangaré
Oumou Sangare is a Malian Wassoulou musician, sometimes referred to as "The Songbird of Wassoulou." Wassoulou is a historic region south of the Niger River, and the music there is descended from traditional hunting songs, and is accompanied by a calabash...

, Rokia Traoré
Rokia Traoré
Rokia Traoré is a Victoires de la Musique award-winning Malian singer, songwriter and guitarist. Born in Mali as a member of the Bambara ethnic group, her father was a diplomat and she travelled widely in her youth. She visited such countries as Algeria, Saudi Arabia, France and Belgium and was...

, Ali Farka Touré
Ali Farka Touré
Ali Ibrahim “Farka” Touré was a Malian singer and guitarist, and one of the African continent’s most internationally renowned musicians. His music is widely regarded as representing a point of intersection of traditional Malian music and its North American cousin, the blues...

, Salif Keita
Salif Keita
Salif Keïta is an internationally recognized afro-pop singer-songwriter from Mali. He is unique not only because of his reputation as the Golden Voice of Africa, but because he has albinism and is a direct descendant of the founder of the Mali Empire, Sundiata Keita...

, Habib Koité
Habib Koité
Habib Koité is a Malian singer, songwriter and guitarist. His supporting cast, Bamada, is a super-group of West African talent, including Kélétigui Diabaté playing balafon.- Musical style :...

, and the blind couple Amadou & Mariam
Amadou & Mariam
Amadou & Mariam are a musical duo from Mali, composed of the couple Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia . The pair, known as "the blind couple from Mali" met at Mali's Institute for the Young Blind, and found they shared an interest in music...

 often sing in Bambara. Aïda of the band Métisse
Métisse
Métisse is an Irish/African Soul/Electronica band, formed by former Chapter House member Skully, and Aïda, a singer/choreographer from Côte d'Ivoire. They formed in Toulouse, France. The band's name is the French word for 'mixture', and its music is a mix of African, Celtic, soul and electronic music...

 often sings in Dioula, as does Mory Kante
Mory Kanté
Mory Kanté is a vocalist and player of the kora harp. He was born into one of Guinea's best known families of griot musicians...

, born in Guinea to a Malian mother; his most famous song to date is "Yeke Yeke" (Alpha Blondy
Alpha Blondy
Alpha Blondy is a reggae singer and international recording artist. Alpha Blondy was born Seydou Koné in Dimbokro, Côte d'Ivoire. He sings mainly in his native language of Dioula, in French and English, and sometimes in Arabic or Hebrew...

). Lyrics in Bambara occur on Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevland Hardaway Morris , better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist...

's soundtrack Journey through the Secret Life of Plants
Journey through the Secret Life of Plants
Stevie Wonder's Journey Through "The Secret Life of Plants" is an album by Stevie Wonder, originally released on the Tamla Motown label on October 30, 1979...

.
Tiken Jah Fakoly
Tiken Jah Fakoly
Tiken Jah Fakoly is a reggae singer from Côte d'Ivoire.Tiken Jah was born into a family of griots and christened Doumbia Moussa Fakoly on June 23, 1968 in Odienné, north-western Côte d'Ivoire. He discovered reggae at an early age, assembling his first group, Djelys, in 1987...

(reggae) often sings in Dioula and French.

External links


Dictionaries


Learning materials


Other

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK