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Soninke language

The Soninke language (Soninke: Sooninkanxanne[3]) is a Mande language spoken by the Soninke people of Africa. The language has an estimated 1,096,795 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.

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

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) q / (') ʔ
Nasal m m n n ñ ɲ ŋ ŋ
Fricative f f s s c (ɕ) j (ʑ) x χ~x h h
Affricate c t͡ʃ j d͡ʒ
Trill r r
Lateral l l
Approximant w w y j


Front Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o
Open a

Parentheses indicate Senegal pronunciation.[4]


  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. ^ "Rapport du séminaire sous régional sur l'harmonisation de l'orthographe du soninké à Bakel (27-30 November 1995)". Archived from the original on 2009-12-22.

External linksEdit