Some Essential Wolof Phrases

*** See an updated list here: Basic Wolof Phrases 2012 ***

“Expressions Ouolof Essentielles”

Na nga def.Hello. (singular)
Na ngeen def. – Hello everybody. (plural)
Jaam nga fanane.Good morning.
Jamm nga yendoo.Good afternoon.
Fanaanal jaam. - Goodnight.
Ba beneen.Goodbye.
Su la nexee.Please.
Jai-rruh-jef. - Thank you.
Agsil.You’re welcome. (singular)
Agsileen ak jaam. - You’re all welcome. (plural)
Baal ma. - Sorry./Pardon.
Wau.Yes.
Deh-det.No.
Jaam nga am?Have you peace? (How are you?)
Jaam rek.Peace only. (I’m fine.)
Yow nag?And you?
Naka-nga sant?What’s your first name?
Maa ngi tudd … .My name is … .
Fan nga dahk?Where do you live?
Fan nga joghe?Where are you from? (singular)
Fan ngeen joghe? - Where are you all from? (plural)
Maa ngi joghe les USA.I’m from the USA.
Deg nga Angale?Do you speak English?
Deg nga Faranse?Do you speak French?
Angale rekk laa degg.I speak only English.
Degg naa tuuti Faranse.I speak a little French.
Mahn deggumah Wolof.I don’t speak Wolof.
Mahn deggumah Faranse. - I don’t speak French.
Degguma.I don’t understand.
Dama bahggoon … .I’d like … .
Fahn la … ? - Where is … ?
Soreh na?Is it far?
Cha kanam.Straight ahead.
Chammoon. - Left.
Ndeyjoor.right.
Dugghal waay!Get in!
Lii naata?How much is this?
Seer na torob.It’s too much.
May ma jaam!Leave me alone!


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144 thoughts on “Some Essential Wolof Phrases

  1. I have a Senegalese friend who has just died…I am an artist and would like to include an appropriate farewell phrase in a picture I am painting is there someone who can tell me what I should say to my friend and his family to say goodbye?

  2. Danny, you’re probably already done with that painting but I was going to say you might include, rather than words, items in the picture that were significant to your deceased friend.

    African cultures, like many others, have had a great portion of their culture and traditions preserved in song and glyphs.

    Its just a thought.

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  3. Hi people,
    I really want to know what is the meaning of this :

    Boul ma sene, boul ma guiss madi re nga fokni mane
    Khamouma li neka thi sama souf ak thi guinaw
    Beugouma kouma khol oaldine yaw li neka si yaw
    mo ne si man, li ne si mane moye dilene diapale

    Please if anyone can help he can contact me : ristovc@yahoo.com
    Thanx

    • These are Youssos Ndour lyrics from 7 Seconds w/Neneh Cherry.

      This is what he is saying:

      Don’t see me from a distance
      Don’t look at my smile
      And think that I don’t know
      What’s under and behind me
      I don’t want you to look at me and think
      What’s in you is in me
      What’s in me is to help them

      Can anyone break down some of the individual Wolof words for us?

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  4. I visited senegal for about 4 months a few years ago.

    Im still very interested and facinated with the language and country it self . Now I’ve been trying to brouse the web to find a phrase that i used pretty often yet i cant find a proper transulation for it , the phrase was légé légé ” dont start flaming me plse im a native speaker im from belgium i know the spelling may be off by miles :)

    From the phrases that i can remember ( like said above plse dont flame me for typos :) ) – i was 19 when i made this trip so its been a while.

    nellow nah boebah? : did u sleepwell?
    defal danke : chill out
    Ghamna gelbi rafet : do you know any pretty ladys
    ki ke le wi : whos there , hello

    dama sono : im tired
    dama rew : im hungry
    dama dof : im stupid
    dama mara naam : im thursty

    samagol : lady of my hearth
    danga rafet : ure beautiful
    de mal a dofsi yow : im crazy about you

    ana wa kurge? : how are things at home?
    nakka a fairbie? : what you up too?
    foj dem? : where you going?
    nejdem : we are going
    boebah : good
    boebaha very good
    boemak : big
    boemak a mak : bigger
    boendow : small
    boendow a dow : smaller
    jogma : give it too me
    amoel challies : i got no money
    tutu rek : just a little
    bahné : its ok
    ko kan la? : who is there?

    thats is about the most i can remember at the moment , hope this helps a little

  5. Na nga def,

    Hey Lisa, there is a pronunciation tab at the top of this page. Is that useful?

    Jai-rruh-jef for this site. I am trying to learn Wolof to speak to friends in Australia.

    Ba beneen,

    Gnat

  6. legge legge means now now. Mangi dem supermarket, mangenyo legge legge. I am going to the supermarket and will be back very soon. Mangenyo si kanam (tutti) I will be coming back later. Si kanam tutti- see you later- ususally just si kanam.
    Nak sa doogoo da? Mungee dalla! It’s a gambian double entendre! They say the person asking the question knows the exactly what the implication is!

  7. nama nala – i miss you
    maalalo – i miss you more (i miss you the most)

    I learned these from my mother & sister in laws while in Senegal, they would always say this when I would leave for the day with my husband. Then they went somewhere and when they came back my husband’s mother said nama nala Marie, and when I replied Malalo, she was so happy.

  8. I think it should also be said that Gambian Wolof and Senegalese Wolof are quite different (different dialects and pronounciations). I learned this when I first met my husband and had found a free online dictionary that I printed out from a missionary group website. Well when I brough it home to show my husband, he shook his head and said “if you come to Senegal and speak this wolof to my family, they will think you’re crazy” He obviously was joking with me, but it is rather different.

    • Gambian Wolof and Senegalese Wolof only differ slightly. Different materials use different spelling systems which can sometimes cause confusion for those who are used to a particular spelling system. Your best bet for a free online dictionary is the one put out by the Peace Corps which is a printable/downloadable PDF…also Firicat.com is a searchable dictionary. Both contain errors but are the 2 best free ones that I’m aware of.

  9. Hi i was just wondering i’ve been looking up how to say i love you in wolof and while i was in senegal i was under the impression that it was boga nala but when i was searching how to spell it i found it as Nob naa la. which one is right? also How do you say “my sister”

  10. @kath mayall – thanks so much, I’m writing letters back to my Gambian “family” and couldn’t remember “Naka sa doogooda?”. This is proof that really, anything is available on the internet.
    Arame: buga naa la translates to “i want you” or “i like you”
    nop naa la is “i love you”
    i could be wrong but I’d say these terms are both reserved for the opposite sex.
    my sister – there is no specific term for sister, you have to refer to siblings as younger “suma raka” or older “suma mag” and then add male or female, so if you’re speaking to your younger sister you’d say “suma raka bu jigen”, whereas your elder sister would be “suma mag bu jigen” (translates directly as “my older sibling that is female”)

  11. It was fun finding this site. I was in Senegal from 93-94 and miss Wolof. I lived in Koussanar ci weto Tambacunda. (near Tamba) Wolof ak Senegal Bak na! (I still cannot spell in Engish, French or Wolof)

  12. Thank you it was helpfull to read this because I try n teach myself wolof because my husband doesnt want to teach me I know a bit what I learnd by just listning but it would be good if I could get a phrase book to help me or a web page

  13. I have some more, my husband is a Gambian.and Im spanish!! .the words are not well written, I write like I sound like my… i hope can help a little!!!

    Suma Hol = my heart
    Nanga def = How are you
    Mangui fi = Im Be here
    Nanga no tu da = hOw is your name?
    Danga Sona = you are tired?
    Danga Dof = You are crazy!!!
    Nakasubasi = Good Morning
    Suma raka = Brother
    Bagna = is Ok
    Ñiatala? How cost???
    Torop= so much
    tuti rek = little
    Danga refet = you are pretty
    Man = I
    Yow = You
    Ko kan La = Who are you?
    suba = tomorrow
    am = Take
    pichidoma = owl
    fan la = where is???
    kañudem = let’s go
    jerejef = thank you
    Damalob = I love you
    lo wah = what you say?
    suma jekkar = My husband
    Suma jabbar = My wife
    waaw = yes
    dedet = no
    Pourlan = why?
    Dafa tuki = travel is
    Nekufi =Do not be
    Jahuma = i dont know
    lu geo? Wha happen?
    Meima = Gimme
    Danga ñao = You Are ugly!
    Balal ma = Im Sorry
    togal fi = sit here
    yogal = Up
    Namana la = i miss you
    tanga = Hot
    Naka sa Family ? How is the family??
    Nopil = Shut up
    Merby = mother

  14. hello everyone! i just needed some help to say” I hope you are having a wonderful day” in wolof or fulani. please help it would be of great assistance… i hope lol

    • I posted a sentence earlier but no one had replied. I am looking for help to translate a sentence from wolof to English. Please cam you help if you can. The sentence was comment left on a picture..

      Chon nice na cherie abdoulie?

      Look forward to a reply..

  15. woloffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff hahahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. woloffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff ya nekhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh hey hey heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

    • Jere-jef is ‘thank you’. Torop is ‘very much’ (from French ‘trop’). So, Jere-jef torop would be like ‘merci beaucoup’ (French) which is how they would probably say it in Senegal, at least in the urban centers.

      Xarit/xariit is ‘friend’. Sama/suma is ‘my’. Suma xarit — “my friend”.

      So, to finally answer your question :) “Torop jere-jef, suma xarit!” or in French; “Merci beaucoup, mon ami!”

      Bare/bari is another way to say ‘much’. Jaaraama is another way to say ‘thank you’.

      By the way, danga rafet means “You are beautiful”.

  17. I believe I have it..thank you my friend, would be..jeri jef suma xarrit..
    I still can’t make the right sound for “X” tho..that’s going to take much more practice.

      • It’s great to have it all in one post tho, Amadou..this is a wonderful site..everyone can learn lots if we just take the time to make a few notes..and practice, practice, practice.

      • Thank you. I have been away from the site for awhile but I have some things in the works and will begin updating the site in a few weeks. I’m glad to see that even in my absence this site remains useful for those who wish to learn Wolof.

      • Thanx for your work, sustain the nice funitcon Fantastic perform, I’m likely to start off a tiny Weblog Engine program perform utilizing your website I am hoping you appreciate running a blog with all the well-known BlogEngine.web.Thethoughts you express are actually great. Desire you may appropriate some a lot more posts.

    • Yaakaar sa yaram jamm, dama la nob ak nala namm. <– Not 100% sure about this, can someone confirm?

      yaakaar – hope; sa (your) yaram (body/health) jamm (peace/well) – your body at peace/you're in good health; dama (I) la (you) nob (love) – I love you; ak – and; nala (I will[?]) namm (miss) – I will miss you.

  18. Hi everybody.
    My boyfriend is from Senegal and I really love him a loooot. I’m looking forward to learn phrases in Wolof. I want him to see I care a lot can you please give me some love phrases or things to say to him. Thank you =-)

      • I like this photo and this is why. It provides that itnsreet in the foreground and also pulls your eye into the background, like the big rock structure in the back that is on the water horizon line. And since sometimes I like to study details I even like the little puff of water that is spraying near the two wooden posts near the upper right hand side of this photo. Do you see the puff I am talking about?

    • You’re right. That is basically what it means.

      Dama means ‘I am’. La means ‘you’. Bugga means ‘like/love/desire/want’.

      Bugga is often used when indicating something that you want. For example if someone was giving you the choice between an apple and an orange and you wanted the apple you’d say ‘dama bugga pom’; ‘I want the apple/I like the apple.”

      • Jerejef !
        Someone said ‘Dama la buga’ to me and would not tell me what it meant. Said I would have to find out for myself. Soo.. thank you ! :D

      • This meditation was very intsteering in that I seemed to drift off into what seemed to be an altered state but I was still aware of Moorpheus talking at the end. Part of me was listening and understood but the other part of me was seriously asleep LOLOL. When I woke up it was about 11:40 but I was in such a spacey place, it took me a minute to re-group. I Loved This one!!!

  19. ahh good, now i know how to say i want/like/love/desire him to my boyfriend. he does speak good english but i can tell he is very surprised and happy when he hears me speak in wolof. i suppose it feels more personal :)

  20. silo neka- what you doing?
    nakam- how are you?
    mang gee dem- I’m going
    mang gee dam lee gay-im going to work
    wa cha nga- you off from work?

    This is gambian wolof, i hope it helps you like it did me i learning from my husband and his cousins who speak it and are from Gambia.
    Noup nala- i love you
    numa nala- i miss you

    • Hi, this Q is for Bamber…i think the first two questions you have posted above are informal and mainly used among friends as ive been told my my boyfriend and his friends who are from The Gambia as well. You should follow up with your husband as i was urged not to learn these questions this way first. I think its a little too familiar to address elders. but, id welcome feedback if im incorrect as well.

  21. Thank you for visiting my blog and for liking my post Learing Wolof. I have enjoyed reading this page and the comments as they remind me of our wonderful trip to Senegal for our son’s wedding. Now Iknow what to reply when somone says “I miss you “

  22. Pingback: Basic Wolof Phrases | Janga Wolof

  23. Hello all! Naka ngeen def?
    My husband is Senegalese and I was wondering if anyone could share any romantic phrases in Wolof. Anything that one would whisper during a romantic candlelight dinner or sms to let the person know that you’re thinking of them.
    Jaajef waay!
    Ania

    • i have been told a term of endearment for your loved one is cherry coco. it is how my boyfriend and i refer to each other…he wants to be married and i think we still need to work together to see if we can be a good pair. no funny business goes on here except affection like hugs and kisses or holding hands. i am struggling with his culture of just getting married without taking some time to get to know each other. advice anyone??

      • I recognize everything you say. My boyfriends tells me exactly the same. He wants to marry me, but I need more time to get to know eachother. I met him 18 months ago, but we only spend 6 weeks together ( 2 times 3 weeks)

        How is your relationship now?

  24. hey can someone halp mw with a translation…i need to know the meanning of this phrase “akh ki dou moromou domou khadj bobou” Does someone know?…thank you

  25. Hi everyone!

    I would really like to learn wolof.
    My dad is a gambian but unfortunately he never thaught me wolof.
    I only see my family in the gambia once in 2 years. So its difficult to learn it everyday. Could you guys please help me!

    Thanks

  26. Pingback: Senegal translation | Janetbosshart

  27. Hi, I’m italian. i listened a beautiful song named nana ye. I’m a teacher and I would to teach this song to my little students.
    Can anyone tell me the correct text and translation please?
    More or less is
    Nana ye zimbe
    Nana ye zimbe
    Nana ye somalé nana zimbe.
    Suma doom jangal so bougué an diplo.

  28. hello matteo. who is this song by? I’m having trouble making sense of the lyrics. i have no idea what nana ye zimbe is supposed to mean but i do know that ” suma doom jangal so bouge am diplome” literally means “my child learn if you want to have a diploma” basically the singer is imploring the child to get an education. wish i could be of more help.

  29. $PeaceIn the chat box, everyone shows up as a guest, incnduilg myself. That is because I asked everyone not to register for the chat, but to just enter a username and press login.I am glad you had a good meditation experience.Peace:

  30. Spell this helps keep yr, it would sell 74 gazillion phones in
    the December fourth part. existence biggest
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    • I think he was saying you are welcome, which also literally means ‘we share it.’ It is often written with an accent above the n – ñokobok – pronouced nyokobok.

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