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
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The Soninke language (Soninke: Sooninkanxanne[2]), also known as Serakhulle or Azer[3] is a Mande language spoken by the Soninke people of Africa. The language has an estimated 2.1 million 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[citation needed], which is centered on the Inner Niger Delta.

It is possible that the language of the Imraguen people and/or the Nemadi dialect are dialects of, or closely related to, Soninke.[4]



Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal ⟨m⟩ m ⟨n⟩ n ⟨ñ⟩ ɲ ⟨ŋ⟩ ŋ
Stop and
voiceless ⟨p⟩ p ⟨t⟩ t ⟨c⟩ t͡ʃ ⟨k⟩ k ⟨q⟩ q
voiced ⟨b⟩ b ⟨d⟩ d ⟨j⟩ d͡ʒ ⟨g⟩ ɡ
Fricative ⟨f⟩ f ⟨s⟩ s ⟨x⟩ x ~ χ ⟨h⟩ h
Trill ⟨r⟩ r
Approximant ⟨w⟩ w ⟨l⟩ l ⟨y⟩ j


Front Central 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) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Lexicon Soninke-French-English Archived 2008-12-30 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Olsen, James Stuart; Meur, Charles (1996). The Peoples of Africa: an Ethnohistorical Dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 532-533. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  4. ^ Nemadi entry in the Languages of Mali Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine, 13th edition (1996)
  5. ^ Moussa Diagana, Ousmane (2013). Dictionnaire soninké-français (Mauritanie). Karthala.
  6. ^ Gràcia; Contreras, Lluïsa; Joan Miquel (2005). El Soninké i el Mandinga. Universitat de Girona.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External links[edit]