Mende /ˈmɛndi/ (Mɛnde yia) is a major language of Sierra Leone, with some speakers in neighboring Liberia. It is spoken by the Mende people and by other ethnic groups as a regional lingua franca in southern Sierra Leone.
Mende is a tonal language belonging to the Mande branch of the Niger–Congo language family. Early systematic descriptions of Mende were by F. W. Migeod  and Kenneth Crosby.
In 1921, Kisimi Kamara invented a syllabary for Mende he called Kikakui (). The script achieved widespread use for a time, but has largely been replaced with an alphabet based on the Latin script, and the Mende script is considered a "failed script". The Bible was translated into Mende and published in 1959, in Latin script.
It was used extensively in the movies Amistad and Blood Diamond.
- ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
- ^ Migeod, F. W. 1908. The Mende language. London
- ^ Crosby, Kenneth. 1944. An Introduction to the Study of Mende. Cambridge University Press.
- ^ Unseth, Peter. 2011. Invention of Scripts in West Africa for Ethnic Revitalization. In The Success-Failure Continuum in Language and Ethnic Identity Efforts, ed. by Joshua A. Fishman and Ofelia García, pp. 23-32. New York: Oxford University Press.
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