Bullom So language

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Bullom So
Native toSierra Leone, Guinea
Regioncoast of Guinea, near the Sierra Leone border
Native speakers
8,400 in Sierra Leone (2006)[1]
few in Guinea
Language codes
ISO 639-3buy

The Bullom So language, also called Mmani,[2] Mani, or Mandingi, is an endangered language currently spoken in a few villages in Samu region of Sierra Leone's Kambia District, near the border of Guinea. It belongs to the Mel branch of the Niger–Congo language family and is particularly closely related to the Bom language. Intermarriage between Bullom So speakers and speakers of Temne and Susu is common. As the few remaining speakers of Bullom So are all over 60, the language is considered moribund.[citation needed][similar claims in Eth. 15 have been abandoned]


According to Childs, the Mani once occupied an area far greater than where the language is spoken today. At the start of the 18th century, the Mani kingdom stretched from Sierra-Leone to Guinea.[3] They were later replaced along the coastal region by Temne-Baga speakers, and later by the Soso, through war, invasion and acculturation.[3]


The Bullom So (Mani) language is a Niger-Congo language of Mel subgroup. It is closely related to Kisi, Sherbro, Kim and Bom.[3]


Consonants of Bullom So[3]
Labial Dental Palatal Velar Labiovelar Glottal
Stops p b t d tʃ/c k gb
Fricatives f s h
Pre-nasalized mp nt nd ŋk
Nasals m ɲ/ny ŋ
Liquids r l
Semivowel j/y w


The most common syllable type in Bullom So (Mani) is CV and CVC.[3] Nasals can also be syllabic, though they are relatively uncommon, much like V only syllables.[3]

Vowels are nasalised when syllable codas contain nasals. Here are some examples from Childs (2011: 37):

Regressive Nasal Assimilation

/wàm/ [wãm] or [wã] 'ten'

/tún/ [tũ] 'commit'

/bìn/ [bĩ] 'plank'

/nyɛ̀n/ [nyɛ̃] 'mouth'



Written Mani before the Twenty-First Century[edit]

Gustavus Reinhold Nyländer translated the Gospel of Matthew into Bullom So, and portions of the Bible were also included in his Book of Common Prayer. These were published by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1816.

Sample Texts in Nyländer's Orthography[edit]

The Lord's Prayer[edit]
Bullom So (Nyländer translation) English (New King James translation)
Oh Papah hë wonno cheh ko kë foy. Ilille moa u cheh yenkeleng. Baily moa leh hun. Peh na nghah yempy tre pehne n yehmah oh kë upock u tre kë manleh peh na nghah yeo ko kë foy. Nkah hë yempy dyo pallë o pallë. Nlap ndërick mbang n hë kë manleh hë lap nokono hë nyërick mbang ngha tre; M ma hë yuck kë nghehl; nfoke hë kë dyah bang ah tre. Moa bë baily tre, moa bë fossoh buleing, moa bë gbentha bomu tre trim o trim. Amen. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.


Excerpt from "A Dialogue between a Christian Missionary and a Native of Bullom"[edit]
Bullom So English
1. Ngheuēhnghatukēh, lileh ngha heleh; ërum bulēing ńviss ngha sōsë tre ah?

Foy. Batukeh.

2. Mpal ë woo ngho Foy ngha ńyërick ń tre manah būlēing?

Mpal ë mainbull.

3. Yēh Foy ngha boa ë pal ë mainting?

U foll hoa mainting nũ ngha rubah....

1. Who made the heaven, earth, and sea; all trees, beasts, and fishes?


2. In how many days did God make all these things?

In six days.

3. What did God on the seventh day?

He rested on the seventh and made it holy....


Written Mani in the Twenty-First Century[edit]

Sample Texts from the Mani Documentation Project[edit]


  1. ^ Bullom So at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Wilson, William André Auquier. 2007. Guinea Languages of the Atlantic group: description and internal classification. (Schriften zur Afrikanistik, 12.) Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Childs, G. Tucker (2011). A Grammar of Mani. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 21.
  4. ^ Nyländer, Gustavus Reinhold. "Select Portions of the Book of Common Prayer in the Bullom Language (1816)".
  5. ^ Nyländer, Gustavus Reinhold (1814). A Spelling-Book of the Bullom Language; With a Dialogue and Scripture Exercises. London: The Church Missionary Society. p. 19.


  • Childs, G. Tucker (2011). A Grammar of Mani. (Mouton Grammar Library; 54.) Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter Mouton. ISBN 978-3-11-026497-5
  • Childs, G. Tucker (2007). Hin som sɛk! oma si fɔ mfɔ mmani! (A Mani primer). Portland; OR: Real Estate Publishers, Inc.
  • Moity, Marcel (1948). Étude sur la langue mmani (unpublished ms). Dakar: IFAN.
  • Moity, Marcel (1957). Notes sure les mani (Guinée Française). Bulletin de l'Institut Français d'Afrique Noire 19:302-307.
  • Nyländer, Gustavus Reinhold. 1814. Grammar and Vocabulary of the Bullom Language. London: Christian Missionary Society.
  • Pichl, Walter J. (1980). Mmani. In West African Language Data Sheets, vol. 2. M. E. Kropp Dakubu (ed.), 1-6. Accra and Leiden: West African Linguistic Society and African Studies Centre.

External links[edit]