Mande languages


Mande languages
Branch of the Niger-Congo language family.

Mande comprises 40 languages of West Africa with more than 20 million speakers in a more or less contiguous area of southeastern Senegal, The Gambia, southern Mauritania, southwestern Mali, eastern Guinea, northern and eastern Sierra Leone, northern Liberia, and western Côte d'Ivoire. Substantial numbers are also found in Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Burkina Faso; and there are very much smaller, isolated pockets in the region. The most significant subgroup is the Mandekan complex
a continuum of languages and dialects, including those spoken by the Bambara, Malinke, Maninka, and Dyula
spoken from Senegal, The Gambia, and Guinea east through Mali to Burkina Faso. Mande, spoken in Sierra Leone, also has more than a million speakers. Several independent writing systems based on the syllable were developed by speakers of Mande languages. The best-known is the Vai script, but Mende, Loma, and Kpelle also have their own scripts.

* * *

      a branch of the Niger-Congo language family (Niger-Congo languages) comprising 40 languages spoken by some 20 million people in a more or less contiguous area of southeastern Senegal, The Gambia (Gambia, The), southern Mauritania, southwestern Mali, eastern Guinea, northern and eastern Sierra Leone, northern Liberia, and western Côte d'Ivoire. Substantial numbers are also found in eastern Guinea-Bissau, southern Guinea, and western Burkina Faso; and there are very much smaller, isolated pockets in northern areas of Ghana, Togo, and Benin and in southwestern Niger and northwestern Nigeria.

      Many scholars divide Mande into western and eastern groups. The larger western group of 27 languages includes several estimated as having more than a million speakers: Bambara (which has four million), Malinke, Maninka, Mende, Dyula (which is used as a trade language by four million people in northern Côte d'Ivoire and western Burkina Faso), Soninke, and Susu. The smaller eastern group consists of 13 languages, only one of which, Dan, has a million speakers.

      It is interesting to note that several independent writing systems based on the syllable were developed by speakers of Mande languages. The best-known is the Vai script, but Mende, Loma, and Kpelle, also have their own scripts.

      Mande languages typically have seven vowels, though this varies from five in northern areas to nine in the south. The consonant system usually includes labiovelar stops and pairs of voiceless/voiced fricatives and stops. Mande words frequently have a CVCV (consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel) pattern. Often the second vowel is the same as the first, and the medial consonant tends to be a glide or a liquid. Most Mande languages have a two-tone system (tone), though up to four levels are found. The tonal system marks grammatical rather than lexical distinctions.

John T. Bendor-Samuel
 

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mande languages — Mande West Sudanic Ethnicity: Mandé peoples Geographic distribution: West Africa Linguistic classification: Niger–Congo? Mande …   Wikipedia

  • Mandé peoples — Mandé Total population 27 million Regions with significant populations West Africa Languages Mande languages Religion Muslim Related ethnic groups …   Wikipedia

  • Mande — may refer to: Mandé peoples of western Africa Mande languages Manding, a term covering a subgroup of Mande peoples, and sometimes used for one of them, Mandinka Garo people of northeastern India and northern Bangladesh Mande (river), in Bosnia… …   Wikipedia

  • Languages of Mali — Mali is a multilingual country. The languages spoken there reflect ancient settlement patterns, migrations, and its long history. Ethnologue counts 50 languages. Of these, French is the official language and Bambara is the most widely spoken.… …   Wikipedia

  • Mande — /mahn day/, n. 1. a branch of the Niger Congo subfamily of languages, spoken in western Africa and including Mende, Malinke, Bambara, and Kpelle. 2. a member of any of the peoples who speak these languages. Also called Mandingo. * * * ▪ people… …   Universalium

  • Languages of Ghana — Different sources give different figures for the number of languages of Ghana. This is because of different classifications of varieties as either languages or dialects. Ethnologue lists a total of 79 languages.As with many ex colonies in Africa …   Wikipedia

  • Mande — [män′dā΄, män′dē΄] n. 1. pl. Mandes or Mande a member of a group of peoples of W Africa, including the Malinkes, Mendes, Susus, etc. 2. a group of Congo languages spoken by these peoples adj. of the Mandes or their languages or cultures …   English World dictionary

  • Mande — /ˈmandeɪ/ (say mahnday) noun 1. a group of African languages, a branch of the Niger Congo family, spoken chiefly in Mali, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. –adjective 2. of or relating to this group of languages. Formerly, Mandingo …   Australian English dictionary

  • Mande-Sprachen — Die Mande Sprachen (kurz Mande genannt) bilden einen Primärzweig des Niger Kongo. Die etwa 60 Sprachen werden in den westafrikanischen Ländern Mali, Elfenbeinküste, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, im nordwestlichen und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mande — Die Mande Sprachen (kurz Mande) bilden einen Primärzweig des Niger Kongo. Die etwa 60 Sprachen werden in den westafrikanischen Ländern Mali, Elfenbeinküste, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, im nordwestlichen und südöstlichen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia