||This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (October 2012)|
|Native to||Mali, Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Chad|
|Native speakers||1.35 million (2006)|
|Recognised minority language in||Senegal|
The Mandinka language (Mandi'nka kango), or Manding, is a Mandé language spoken by the Mandinka people of Mali, Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, 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 similar to Bambara and Maninka or Malinké. In a majority of areas, it is tonal language with two tones: low and high, although the particular variety spoken in the Gambia and Senegal is non-tonal and uses a pitch accent.
Latin and Arabic script-based alphabets are widely used for Mandinka; the former is official, but the latter is more widely used and older. In addition, the pan-Mandé writing system, the N'Ko alphabet, invented in 1949, is often used in north east Guinea, and bordering communities in Ivory Coast and Mali.
In the Latin script, c represents /t͡ʃ/, ŋ /ŋ/, and ñ /ɲ/; the letters v, x, z, and q are not used. Vowels are as in Spanish or Italian, and are doubled to indicate length or distinguish words that are otherwise homophones.
The Arabic script uses no extra letters (apart from, rarely, an extra vowel mark for e), but some of the letters are pronounced differently from in Arabic.
The Latin and Arabic consonants correspond as follows:
|Latin||('), aa, ee||(', with madda ŋ)||b, p||t||t||t||c, j||h||h||d||r||s||s (sh)||s||s||s||f||l||m||n, ñ, ŋ||w||y||k, g||la|
Letters in italics are not normally used in native Mandinka words. ه (h) may also be used to indicate a final glottal stop, which is not noted in the Latin script. The letter ŋ of the Latin script is often indicated with vowel signs in the Arabic script; see below.
The vowels correspond as follows (diacritics are placed over or under the consonant in Arabic):
|Latin||a, e||i, e, ee||o, u||(no following vowel)||e||aŋ, eŋ||iŋ, eeŋ, eŋ||oŋ, uŋ||aa||ii||oo, uu|
|Mandinka names of Arabic marks:||sira tilidiŋo;||sira tilidiŋo duuma;||ŋoo biriŋo;||sira murumuruliŋo;||tambi baa duuma;||sira tilindiŋo fula;||sira tilindiŋo duuma fula;||ŋoo biriŋo fula.|
In addition, a small Arabic 2 (۲) may be used to indicate reduplication, and the hamza may be used as in Arabic to indicate glottal stops more precisely.
See also 
- R. T. Addis, A Study on the Writing of Mandinka in Arabic script, 1963.
- Dramé, Man Lafi, Parlons Mandinka, L'Harmattan 2003 (in French)
- Wolof and Mandinka resources, including a grammar and dictionary