Bambara phrasebook

Bambara or Bamanankan (ߓߡߊߣߊ߲ߞߊ߲) is a language in West Africa, mostly in Mali, where it is mother tongue of the Bambara people (30% of the population), and where 80% of the population can communicate in the language. Bambara will also be useful in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Gambia. Together with Dioulé and Malinké it belongs to the Mandekan dialect family, which itself part of the Mande group, which is a Niger-Congo language subgroup.

The language is heavily influenced by French, and even the slightest knowledge of French will make it easier to remember words. If you don’t remember a word you can try to use the French word.

. . . Bambara phrasebook . . .

like ‘a’ in “father”
like ‘e’ in “prey”
like ‘e’ in “met”
like ‘i’ in “police”
like ‘o’ in “so”
like ‘ough’ in “bought”
like ‘u’ in “clue”

There are also long vowels:

  • aa
  • ee
  • εε
  • ii
  • oo
  • ɔɔ
  • uu

and nasal vowels:

  • an
  • en
  • εn
  • in
  • on
  • ɔn
  • un
like ‘j’ in “jay”
like ‘ny’ in “canyon”
like ‘nw’
like ‘ch’ in “chair”
like ‘g’ in “get”
like ‘h’ in “hard”
like ‘ss’ in “pass” or ‘sh’ in “shake” (varies by region)
like ‘sh’ in “shore”
Hello (any time of day) 
i ni ce
How are you? (Are you well?) (to one person) 
i ka kεnε wa?
How are you? (Are you well?) (to more than one person) 
Aw ka kεnε (wa)?
Fine, thank you. 
kεnε, tɔɔrɔ te, ko tε, tana tε
What is your first name? 
i tɔgɔ?
What is your last name? 
i jamu?
My name is ______ . 
ne tɔgɔ ___
Thank you. 
i ni ce
You’re welcome. 
basi tε (literally ‘no problem’)
Excuse me. (getting attention / begging pardon) 
(aw ye) hakε to!
I’m sorry. 
a yafa n ma
k’an bεn
Goodbye (informal) 
n taara
I can’t speak name of language [well]. 
N te se “name of language” kan na kosεbε. e.g. N te se angilekan na kosεbε
I don’t speak Bambara very well, but I understand a little 
Ne tε se bamanankan na kosεbε, nka ne b’a men dɔɔnin dɔɔnin.
Do you speak English? 
i bε angilekan men wa?
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
Mogo do min bε angilekan men be yan, wa?
N deme!
Look out! 
I farati!
Good morning. 
aw ni sɔgɔma (several persons around), i ni sɔgɔma (1 person)
Good afternoon 
aw ni tile, i ni tile
Good evening. 
aw ni wula, i ni wula
Good night. 
aw ni su, i ni su
Good night (to sleep) 
ka su hεεrε
I don’t understand. 
n m’a faamu
Where is the toilet? 
ɲεgεn bε min?

. . . Bambara phrasebook . . .

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. . . Bambara phrasebook . . .

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