Soninke language

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Native toMali, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Ghana
EthnicitySoninke people
Native speakers
2.1 million (2006–2011)[1]
  • Mande
    • Western Mande
      • Northwestern
        • Soninke–Bobo
          • Soninke–Bozo
            • Soninke
Language codes
ISO 639-2snk
ISO 639-3snk
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The Soninke language (Soninke: Sooninkanxanne[3]) is a Mande language spoken by the Soninke people of Africa. The language has an estimated 2,100,000 speakers, primarily located in Mali, and also (in order of numerical importance of the communities) in Senegal, Ivory Coast, The Gambia, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Ghana. It enjoys the status of a national language in Mali, Senegal, The Gambia and Mauritania.

The language is relatively homogeneous, with only slight phonological, lexical, and grammatical variations.

Linguistically, its nearest relatives is the Bozo language, which is centered on the Inner Niger Delta.

It is possible that the language of the Imraguen people and the Nemadi dialect are dialects of Soninke.



Bilabial Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Plosive p p b b t t d d k k g ɡ q q
Nasal m m n n ñ ɲ ŋ ŋ
Fricative f f s s x x~χ h h
Affricate c t͡ʃ j d͡ʒ
Trill r r
Lateral l l
Approximant w w y j


Front Back
Close i, iː u, uː
Close-mid e, eː o, oː
Open a, aː


Long vowels are written double: aa, ee, ii, oo, uu.


  1. ^ Soninke at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Soninke". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Lexicon Soninke-French-English Archived 2008-12-30 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Moussa Diagana, Ousmane (2013). Dictionnaire soninké-français (Mauritanie). Karthala.
  5. ^ Gràcia; Contreras, Lluïsa; Joan Miquel (2005). El Soninké i el Mandinga. Universitat de Girona.

External links[edit]