Madinké-Malinké: Differences

Discussion in 'Other Languages' started by WannaBFluent, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. WannaBFluent

    WannaBFluent Senior Member


    I would like to know if the Malinké (upper Guinea and southern Mali) and the Madinké (Gambia and southern Sénégal) are that different?
    Can they understand each orther?

    Thank you.

    edit: And what about Soninké? Can they understand each other?
    And what about the Maninké? Can they understand each other?
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2014
  2. nelsonizer1 New Member

    English- USA
    Speakers of Malinké, Madinké (Senegal speakers refer to this language as Mandinka), and Maninké can generally understand each other however there are significant lexical and grammatical differences between the languages. Additionally, there are regional variations within each of the three languages.
    Soninke, however, cannot be understood by Malinké, Mandinka, or Maninké speakers but bears cursory grammatical similarity.

    If, for example, we were to conduct a meeting with speakers of all 3 languages (as I have many times) each speaker would be understood by the other two language groups, but a translator would be necessary to clarify the 30% of the vocabulary that differed between the languages. Two speakers of the languages could carry on a conversation with each other but would occasionally have to pause and clarify the exact meaning of a word or turn of phrase.

    You also have to be careful when referring to the differences between Mandinka, Malinké, and Maninké as these terms are easily confused. Native speakers of the language referred to in English as "Malinké" refer to themselves as either Malinké or Maninké depending on the preferred pronunciation.

    Source: Lived and worked for 2 years in Southern Senegal.

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