The language has status as an official language in Senegal, and an orthography has recently been developed for writing it. Mankanya is known as "Uhula" by the people themselves (the Mankanya people, or "Bahula"). The name 'Mankanya' ('Mancagne' in French) is thought to have been conferred upon the people and their language by colonialists who mistook the name of their chief at the time of colonisation for the name of the people-group itself.
The language contains many loanwords from Kriol. There is also extensive bilingualism in Mandjak, a closely related language which is largely mutually comprehensible, as well as in other minority languages spoken in the area, such as Mandinka and Jola. Finally, Mankanya speakers in Senegal also know French, and those in Gambia know English.