Baga language

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Native toGuinea
Native speakers
(undated figure of 13,000, possibly the ethnic population)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
bgo – Koga
bsp – Sitemu
bmd – Mandari
bqf – Kaloum (spurious)
bsv – Sobané (spurious)
Glottologtemn1245  adds Temne & Landoma[2]

Baga, or Barka, is a dialect cluster spoken by the Baga people of coastal Guinea. The name derives from the phrase bae raka 'people of the seaside'. Most Baga are bilingual in the Mande language Susu, the official regional language. Two ethnically Baga communities, Sobané and Kaloum, are known to have abandoned their (unattested) language altogether in favour of Susu.

The varieties as distinct enough to sometimes be considered different languages.[3] They are:

Baga Koga (Koba)
Baga Manduri (Maduri, Mandari)
Baga Sitemu (Sitemú, Stem Baga, Rio Pongo Baga)

The extinct Baga Kaloum and Baga Sobané peoples spoken Koga and Sitemu, respectively.[4]

Neighboring Baga Pokur is not closely related.

Noun Class Systems[edit]

Baga has prefixes for eight noun classes:[3]

Variety 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Baga Maduri o- or none a- a- i- kə- da- cə- sə-
Bagu Sitemu wi- or none a- a- none kə- da- cə- sə-
Baga Koba i- a- a- ɛ- kə- da- cə- sə-


All these are from Baga Maduri:[3]

  • aceen - dog
  • iceen - dogs
  • alomp - fish
  • asɔɔp - pig
  • atɔf - earth, land
  • daboomp da-ka-obɛ - the chief's head
  • daboomp da-wana - the cow's head
  • dafɔr - eye
  • dasek - tooth
  • isek - teeth
  • gbak - hang
  • kəca - hand, arm
  • waca - hands, arms
  • kufoon - hair
  • mun - drink
  • tafac - iron
  • gbup - turn onto front


  1. ^ Koga at Ethnologue (15th ed., 2005)
    Sitemu at Ethnologue (15th ed., 2005)
    Mandari at Ethnologue (15th ed., 2005)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Temne–Baga". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c W.A.A.Wilson, Temne, Landuma and the Baga Languages in: Sierra Leone Language Review, No. 1, 1962 published by Fourah Bay College, Freetown.
  4. ^ Hammarström (2015) Ethnologue 16/17/18th editions: a comprehensive review: online appendices

Further reading[edit]

  • Houis, Maurice (1952) 'Remarques sur la voix passive en Baga', Notes Africaines, 91–92.
  • Houis, Maurice (1953) 'Le système pronominal et les classes dans les dialectes Baga, i carte', Bulletin de l'IFAN, 15, 381–404.
  • Mouser, Bruce L. (2002) 'Who and where were the Baga?: European perceptions from 1793 to 1821', History in Africa, 29, 337–364.

External links[edit]