All posts by Amadou

About Amadou

A lover of language, linguistics and alliteration.

Wolof Resources & Links

Digital Flashcards

Wolof Suffixes & Prefixes
Wolof Colors
Wolof Fauna (Animals & Insects)
Wolof Days of the Week
Wolofized Arabic
Wolof Affixes Bundle (flashcard set + notes)
Flashcard Bundle (all flashcard sets)
Wolofized French & English
Wolof Food & Drink
Flashcard Catalog

Digital Notes

Wolof Affixes Bundle (notes + flashcard set)
Wolof Affixes Notes (Suffixes & Prefixes)
Notes Catalog

Digital Downloads

Janga Laaka Wolof Dictionary
Basic Wolof Phrases with Pronunciation Guide
Downloads Catalog



Wolof Lexicon & Phrase Dictionary

Lexicon: English to Wolof ♦ Wolof to English
Phrase Dictionary: Wolof to English ♦ English to Wolof


English to Wolof

action jéf
adze dené
all yëp
already jeeg
arrow fetta
bamboo waax
bean ñebbe
before bërka
biscuit mbiskit
butter bëër
button butong
buying njénda
canoe gaal
cassava ñambi
center digga
cord buum
corpse néew
cotton wittéén
country rééw
creature mbindéef
cultivation mbey
daytime bëccëg
driver dërayva
elephant ñay
epidemic mbas
Europe erop
eye bët
farmer béykay
farming mbay
fifth juroomel
flute mbilip
forehead je
four ñanent
French faranse
gaol jeel
gas gaas
Ghana gaana
goat bëy
grass ñax
hand loxo
hare njomboor
hat mbaxana
here fi
hole bënna
hospital lopitaan
house néég
husband jekër
iguana mbëta
intestines butiit
joy mbégté
judgment atte
kitchen waañ
liver res
locust njééréér
loss looraange
love mbëggeel, nobel
Monday londi
mother yaay
mouth gémmeñ
necklace caxa
one jeen
only rekk
owl looy
plan mbir
plank dénka
pot cin
price njëg
pus dëtta
quiet teey
religion diiné
root reen
Saturday gaawu
sauce ñeex
school ekol
second nyaarel
shame gacce
sheath mbar
singlet genso
sowing nji
street mbedda
strength kattan
Sunday dibéér
supper reer
tailor ñawkat
tea attaya
thigh luppa
thirty fanweer
thread woñ
tooth bëñ
underskirt njiitlay
use jéfoo
vegetable lejum
war geer
watchman wocmaan
whatever lu
wrestler bërekat, mber
wrestling bëre
writing mbinda
xylophone balafong
year at
yes waaw
zero dara

Wolof to English

aj to go on a pilgrimage
ajjana ji heaven, paradise
almanaak bi calendar
anda bi a perforated pot for burning incense
aye to be the turn of
baxa to be light; to dye light blue
bëy wi goat
binda to write
buy bi baobab fruit
calbet mi wagtail
cammeñ bi brother (sister speaking)
ciz bi cheese
daa ji ink, inkwell
dar to cover, protect
dëbba to pound
dexi to harvest (groundnuts, etc.)
diiné ji religion
dof to be mad
doktoor bi doctor
door to begin
doylu to be happy, satisfied
ëgga bi rain in the dry season
ëw form a circle around
falang bi a hairstyle with hanging braids
fas wi horse
fer to be weaned
firi to unroll, loosen, explain
foog to think
gajja to cut (bushes, etc.) near roots
gakka to be spoiled, stained
gañceñ gi vertebrae (of animal)
geer gi Guiera senegalensis
géwel bi griot, musician, etc.
gu which (relative)
halam guitar
ite ji sensation, feeling
jaambur bi freeborn
jarat to comb
jela to squint
jeneen another
julli to pray
juroomeeli fifth
këf ki thing
korité festival at the end of the month of Ramadan
kwafe to do hair
layyi to be misty
lèx bi cheek
liw to be cold
loxo bi hand
luye to hire
mbiskit mi biscuit
mbojj mi first pounding of grain
mbuus mi leather bag, skin bag
mool bi a type of fisherman
muri to uncover
nduumaar li turtle
nektay bi necktie
ñemeñ to have courage, not be afraid
nga to open the mouth
ngott to lack generosity
ni as
njaaloo gi adultery
njuna wi tunafish
noflaay gi rest
noppi to be finished
obali to yawn
oos gi fishhook
oyof to be light (in weight)
paj mi treatment
puus to push
quai platform
raaf to be destroyed, cease to exist
rafle to lack clothing
réy to be big
saasal to solder
samdi ji Saturday
saxami to chew
tanka bi foot
tayyi to be tired
tëgga to beat a drum, to hammer iron, etc.
tër to hold down
toxor to be numbed
urus gold
viande meat
waaaxu to walk quickly with long strides
wandeelu to wander about
wattatu to crawl
weñ gi iron
werta to be green
woñoo to be in dispute with one another
xaaf mi a ram
xana isn’t it that, or, perhaps
xas to scold
xef wi eyelash
yal to shake, to be loose
yale form of the word ‘those’
yelwaan to beg for alms
yonné to send
yotu to try to reach (with the hands, etc.)
zoo zoo

Phrase Dictionary

Tip: Use your computer’s find function to search keywords.

Wolof to English

Amoon na fi. Once upon a time.
Amul boppa. He has no sense.
Ana Faatu? Where is Faatu?
Ana mu? Where is he? / Where is it?
Ana waa kër ga? Where are the people of the compound? (How is your family?)
Atte Yalla la. It is the judgment of God. (It is fate.)
Aw ma guru. I have no kola.
Aw yoon am. He goes on his way.
Awa, ñu dem. Well then, let’s go.
Baay bi tiit lool. The father was very much afraid.
Ban liggeey ngay def? What work do you do?
Be bëgga dee. Until he nearly died. (emphatic)
Bu fa yagga. Don’t be long there.
Bu Gamble ñowati. When Gamble comes again.
Bul def loolu. Don’t do that.
Da ma bëgga ma fey la. I would like to pay you.
Dama bëgga jëkkër. I am looking for a husband.
Degga naa né. I have heard that.
Dem na liggeey. He has gone to work.
Demal ñaana rénda. Go and ask for dried fish.
Demul fenn. He did not go anywhere.
Di na buur. He is a king.
Di na dem. He will come.
Di naa fa ñow. I will come there.
Di naa ñow. I will come.
Di nga am doom de! You will have a child!
Doo naan ndox? Won’t you drink water?
Fab fetal gi, diir ko, jam ko. He took the gun, aimed it, and shot him.
Fan la dekka? Where does he live?
Fan nga dem? Where are you going?
Faral na a ko def. I have often done it.
Fi nga dëkka? Is it here you live?
Fii la nekka. It is here he stays.
Foo nekkon? Where have you been?
Geej gi di geej i Saalum. The sea is the sea of Saalum.
Geej gi fer na. The tide has gone out.
Jamma nga endu? Have you spent the day in peace?
Jamma nga fanaan? Have you spent the night in peace? (i.e. ‘good morning’)
Jox ko loxo. Shake hands with him.
Jox ma ci, ma mos. Give me a bit to taste.
Kaay lekka ci soow. Come eat a bit of sour milk.
Kañ nga ñow? When did you come?
Ki laa bugga. This is the man I want.
Ki olof la. He is a Wolof.
Ku la ko won? Who showed it to you?
Ku laa bañ, yal na dee. Whoever hates you, may he perish.
Li lan la? What is that?
Loo ame? What have you got with you?
Loo bëgga? What do you want?
Loo gis? What do you see?
Lu dem ci nyaar i fukk i at. For as much as twenty years.
Lu mu wax am na dalill. What he says has a reason.
Lu muy def? What is he doing?
Lu Yalla atte. What God decides.
Ma né. I say.
Ma won la. Let me show you.
Man olof laa. I am a Wolof.
Mangi ci kow am, ndanka ndanka. I am at it, bit by bit.
Mangi feexlu tuuti. I am getting a little fresh air.
Mangi ñow. I’m coming.
Matta ko ci tanka. It bit him on the foot.
May ma ci xaalis. Give me a bit of money.
May ma ci. Give me a bit.
May ma guru. Give me kola.
May ma ndox ma naan. Give me water to drink.
Mu dem? Can he go?
Mu ne ko. He told him.
Mu ne leen. He told them.
Mu né. He says.
Munga fa. He is over there.
Munge nelaw. He is sleeping.
Munge nyow. He is coming.
Mungi ni. Here he is.
Mungi! That’s it!
Na rees ak jamma. May it be digested in peace.
Ñaata at nga am? How old are you?
Naka liggeey bi? How is the work?
Neex na lool. It is very sweet.
Ñenenteel ba di waañ wa. The fourth is the kitchen.
Nit ñangi fey lakka gi. People are putting out the bush fire.
Ñow-atul. It will not come anymore.
Ñuy waajal ngénté la. They made preparations for the naming ceremony.
Penda aw ci yoon wi. Penda set off.
Soppal sa jabar te bul oolu. Love your wife but do not trust her (with your secrets).
Su neexe Yalla. If it pleases God.
Suma doom fer na. My child is weaned.
Suma jabar dafa biir. My wife is pregnant.
Suma yaay dafa réér. My mother is dead.
Waa dëkka bi yëpp. All the people of the town.
War fas wi di daw. He mounted the horse and galloped off.
Waxu leen ma ci dara. You told me nothing about it.
Won ma. Show me.
Won na ko ko. He showed him it.
Xam naa ko, mo di jëkkër i Koddu Jañ. I know him, he is the husband of Koddu Jañ.
Yagga nga fii? Have you been long here.
Yalla, Yalla, béy sa tool. Invoke God, but cultivate your farm. (God helps those who help themselves.)
Yeet ma ci ndox. Bring me some water.

English to Wolof

A table for three. Ñett lanu.
Bring us some bissap. Indil nu bisaap.
Bring your price down a bit. Waññil.
Come and take me with you, don’t go and leave me. Kay yobbaale ma, do dem baay ma.
Do you have a watch? Am nga montar?
Everyone was coming to the funeral. Ñep angi ñow ci dëj bi.
For me, the yassa. Man yaasa.
Give me the money. Indil xaalis bi.
Goodbye now. Ba beneen yoon.
He is fine. Mi ngi ci jàmm.
Her mother has gone to Saloum. Yaay am dem na Saalum.
Here’s the menu. Kart baa ngi.
Here’s your change! Am sa weccit!
How about 700cfa? Teemeer ak ñeent fukk angi?
How are you? Na nga def?
How is your child? Sa doom jàmm?
How is your family? Ana sa waa kër?
How is your wife? Mbaa sa jabar jàmm?
How many do you want? Ñaata?
How much / many? Naata la?
How much are you selling this for? Ñaata ngay jaaye bii?
How much is it from here to Sandaga? Fii ba Sandaga ñaata?
How much is it? Ñaata lay jar?
How much is that? Ñaata la?
How much is your fish? Sa jën wi ñaata lay jar?
How much will you pay? Loo fey?
How was your day? Jàmm nga yendoo?
How was your night? Jàmm nga fanaane?
I am from America. Maa ngi jóge Amerik.
I am hungry. Da maa xiif.
I am not afraid of you. Ragalu ma la.
I am thirsty. Da maa mar.
I can’t add any more. Du ma ci tekk dara.
I don’t like hot pepper. Bëgguma kaani.
I like hot pepper. Bëgg naa kaani.
I only have 800cfa. Teemeer ak juróom benn fukki dërëm laa am.
I want him to take me along. Dama bugga mu yobbuwaale.
I will pay 1000cfa. Fey naa la ñaari teemeeri dërëm.
I will pay 75cfa. Fey naa la fukk ak juróom.
I’ll add 100cfa but no more. Tekk naa ci ñaar-fukk du ma ci yokk dara.
I’ll cook rice and fish. Di naa togga ceeb u jen.
I’ll do it for 850cfa. Defal naa la ko teemeer ak juróom ñaar fukk.
I’ll have fish and rice. Di maa jël ceebu jën.
I’m fine. Maa ngi fi.
I’m full. Suur na.
Is there mafe? Ndax am na maafé?
Isn’t it true? Du dëgga?
It tastes spicy. Saf na kaani.
It was fine. Jàmm rekk.
It was good. Neexoon na.
It’s 10 o’clock. Fukki waxtu a jot.
It’s 10:30 a.m. Fukki waxtu ak genne-wall a jot.
It’s a quarter to 10 p.m. Fukki waxtu des na fukki minit juróom.
It’s cold. Sedd na.
It’s five p.m. Juróomi waxtu ci ngoon.
It’s hot.  Tang na.
It’s not cold. Seddul.
It’s not hot. Tangul.
It’s not spicy. Saful kaani.
It’s the truth. Dëgga la.
Lower your price! Waññil!
More sauce, please. Dollil tuuti ñeex.
My name is David. Maa ngi tudd Daawuda.
No one can deny it. Kenn mën a ko weddi.
No, I don’t have a watch. Amuma montar.
No, that’s not what it’s worth. Deedeet du njëg-am.
OK, get in. Yéegal.
Please bring us some cold water. Indil nu ndox mu sedd.
She is fine. Jàmm rekk.
She washed and washed until it was finished. Mu foot a foot be pare.
She went off to do the washing. Mu dem footi.
Some ice please. Tuuti galaas.
Stop here. Taxawal fii.
That watch, how much does it cost? Sa montar bi ñaata lay jar?
That’s expensive! Seer na lóol!
That’s no good. Loolu baaxul.
That’s too much. Seer na lool.
There’s ten minutes left. Des na fukki minit.
These shoes, how much are they? Sa dall yi ñaata lay jar?
They are fine. Ñu nga fa.
This is my mother. Kii sama yaay la.
This is where it belongs. Fii la dëkka.
We would like to pay. Danu bëgg fey.
We’re going. Nu ngi dem.
Welcome. Agsi leen.
What did you say? Nga ni?
What do you have that is ready? Lu fi am soti?
What is your name? Nanga tudd?
What time is it? Ban waxtoo jot?
What will you have to drink? Lu ngeen di naan?
What would be a better price? Lu seerul?
When you go, take me with you. Soo demee, yobbaale ma.
Whenever you like. Saa yu la neexee.
Where are you from? Foo jóge?
Where is the nearest restaurant? Fan moo am restoraan?
Where is the restroom? Fan mooy seen wanaag?
Won’t you stay and chat? Doo waxtaan?
Yes, I have a watch. Waaw am naa montar.
Yes, there is. Waaw-waaw am na.
You’ve spoken the truth. Wax nga dëgga.

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Wolof Numbers, Time & Dates

Days of the Week ♦ Months of the Year ♦ Hours of the Day ♦ Calendar Dates
Temporal Constructs ♦ Example Phrases ♦ Units of Time ♦ Numbers

Days of the Week

Monday altine
Tuesday talaata
Wednesday àllarba
Thursday alxames
Friday àjjuma
Saturday gaawu
Sunday dibéer

Download Wolof Days of the Week digital flashcard set.

Months of the Year

January saawiye
February feewirye
March mars
April awriil
May mee
June suwe
July suleet
August ut
September septàmbar
October oktoobar
November noowàmbar
December deesàmbar

Hours of the Day

one o’clock benn waxtu
two o’clock ñaari waxtu
three o’clock ñetti waxtu
four o’clock ñeent waxtu
five o’clock juróomi waxtu
six o’clock juróomi-benn waxtu
seven o’clock juróomi-ñaari waxtu
eight o’clock juróomi-ñetti waxtu
nine o’clock juróomi-ñeent waxtu
ten o’clock fukki waxtu
eleven o’clock fukki waxtu ak benn
twelve o’clock fukki waxtu ak ñaar

 Calendar Dates

first bu njëk
second ñaaréélu
third ñettéélu
fourth ñeentéélu
fifth juróoméélu
sixth juróom-bennéélu
seventh juróom-ñaaréélu
eighth juróom-ñettéélu
ninth juróom-ñeentéélu
tenth fukkéélu
eleventh fukk ak bennéélu
twelfth fukk ak ñaaréélu
thirteenth fukk ak ñettéélu
fourteenth fukk ak ñeentéélu
fifteenth fukk ak juróoméélu
sixteenth fukk ak juróom-bennéélu
seventeenth fukk ak juróom-ñaaréélu
eighteenth fukk ak juróom-ñettéélu
nineteenth fukk ak juróom-ñeentéélu
twentieth ñaar-fukkéélu
twenty-first ñaar-fukk ak bennéélu
twenty-second ñaar-fukk ak ñaaréélu
twenty-third ñaar-fukk ak ñettéélu
twenty-fourth ñaar-fukk ak ñeentéélu
twenty-fifth ñaar-fukk ak juróoméélu
twenty-sixth ñaar-fukk ak juróom-bennéélu
twenty-seventh ñaar-fukk ak juróom-ñaaréélu
twenty-eighth ñaar-fukk ak juróom-ñettéélu
twenty-ninth ñaar-fukk ak juróom-ñeentéélu
thirtieth ñett-fukkéélu
thirty-first ñett-fukk ak bennéélu

Temporal Constructs

yesterday démb
today tey
tomorrow suba
daytime bëcëg
nighttime guddi
morning ci suba
afternoon ci ngoon
evening ci guddi

Example Phrases

What time is it? Ban waxtoo jot?
It’s 10:30 A.M. Fukki waxtu ak genne-wall a jot ci suba.
Today is December 15th. Tey la fukkeeli fan ak juróom ci weeru desaambar.

Units of Time

minute miniit
hour waxtu
day bés
week bés bu ay
month weer
year at


one benn
two ñaar
three ñett
four ñeent
five juróom
six juróom-benn
seven juróom-ñaar
eight juróom-ñett
nine juróom-ñeent
ten fukk
eleven fukk ak benn
twelve fukk ak juróom-ñeent
twenty ñaar-fukk
twenty-one ñaar fukk ak benn
thirty ñett-fukk
forty ñeent-fukk
fifty juróom-fukk
sixty juróom-benn-fukk
one hundred téeméer
one hundred one téeméer ak benn
two hundred ñaari téeméer
one thousand junni
one thousand five hundred ninety-nine junni ak juróomi téeméer ak juróom-ñeent-fukk ak juróom-ñeent

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Wolof Pronunciation Guide

Vowels ♦ Consonants ♦ Prenasalized Consonants


Grapheme English Equivalent Wolof Examples
a absorb banta, tapa, santa
aa far laaj, naaj, caabi
e get dem, lem, gerte
ee where seet, leel
é say bés
éé sane wéér, réér
ë bird kër, dëgër
i in, pit nit, simiis, timis
ii meet siis, lii, kii
o moment xob, romba
ó awe nób, sóf
oo door loo, soo
óó phone góór, fóót
u cook nuyuubi
uu moon tuuru, yuuxu


Grapheme English Equivalent Wolof Examples
b boy bunta, ban
c church caabi, ceeb
d dog def, dara
f fire fas, fetel
g good dogal, duga
j job jambar, jox
k cool kaala, kumpa
l land loolu, laal
m moon meew, dem
n not nit, nax
ñ onion ñeebe, gaañu
p park pare, soopa
r rat raxas, réér
s sign siissafara
t stamp tubaab, aate
w war waaw, rew
x loch (Scottish pron.) xale, xaalis
y your yaayyuuxu

Prenasalized Consonants


Wolof Examples


mbéy, mbam


ndey, ndigga

ng, ŋ



njam, njàmpe



Adopted from:

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Essential French & Wolof Phrases

Hello. Bonjour. Salaam aleekum.
Goodbye. Au revoir. Mangi dem.
Please. S’il vous plaît. Bu la neexee.
Thank you. Merci. Jërejëf.
You’re welcome. Je vous en prie. Amul sólo.
Yes. Oui. Waaw.
No. Non. Déedéet.
Sorry. Pardon. Baal ma.
Do you speak English? Parlez-vous anglais? Ndax dégg nga angale?
Do you understand? Comprenez-vous? Dégg nga?
I understand. Je comprends. Dégg naa.
I don’t understand. Je ne comprends pas. Dégguma.
Help! Au secours! Wóoy!

A Few Essential Words

airport aéroport ayropoor
bus bus kaar
currency exchange taux de change dëwiis
hotel logement dal
police police alkaati
shop magasin bitik
taxi taxi taksi
train train saxaar

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About Wolof & The Senegambia

Wolof ♦ Wolof Language ♦ Wolof People ♦ Senegal ♦ The Gambia



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(All links open to Wikipedia)

 Wolof or Wollof may refer to:

  • The Wolof or Jolof Empire, a medieval West African successor of the Mali Empire from the 14th to 16th centuries in present-day Senegal
  • The Wolof or Jolof Kingdom, a rump survival of the earlier empire in the same area from the 16th to the 19th centuries
  • Wolof language, a language spoken in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania
  • Wolof people, an ethnic group found in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania


Wolof Language

Wolof (/ˈwlɒf/[3]) is a language of Senegalthe Gambia, and Mauritania, and the native language of the Wolof people. Like the neighbouring languages Serer and Fula, it belongs to the Senegambian branch of the Niger–Congo language family. Unlike most other languages of Sub-Saharan Africa, Wolof is not a tonal language.

Wolof originated as the language of the Lebou people.[4][5] It is the most widely spoken language in Senegal, spoken natively by the Wolof people (40% of the population) but also by most other Senegalese as a second language. Wolof dialects vary geographically and between rural and urban areas. “Dakar-Wolof”, for instance, is an urban mixture of Wolof, French, and Arabic.

“Wolof” is the standard spelling and may refer to the Wolof people or to Wolof culture. Variants include the older French Ouolof and the principally Gambian “Wollof”. “Jolof”, “jollof”, &c. now typically refers either to the former Wolof state or to a common West African rice dish. Now-archaic forms include “Volof” and “Olof”.

Wolof words in English are believed to include yum/yummy, from Wolof nyam “to taste”, [6]nyam in Barbadian English [7] meaning to eat (also compare Seychellois nyanmnyanm, also meaning to eat).[8]

1. Geographical distribution2. Classification
3. Orthography and pronunciation4. Grammar5. Literature
6. See also7. References8. Bibliography9. External links


Wolof People

The Wolof (IPA: /ˈwəʊlɒf/[3]) are an ethnic group found in Senegalthe Gambia, and Mauritania.

In Senegal, the Wolof form an ethnic plurality with about 43.3% of the population.[4]

In the Gambia, about 16% of the population are Wolof. Here, they are a minority, where the Mandinka are the plurality with 42% of the population, yet Wolof language and culture have a disproportionate influence because of their prevalence in Banjul, the Gambian capital, where a majority of the population is Wolof.[5]

In Mauritania, about 8% of the population are Wolof. They live largely in the southern coastal region of the country.

1. Orthography2. Historical state3. Culture
4. Notable Wolof people5. Bibliography6. References



Senegal Listeni/ˌsɛnɨˈɡɔːl, ˈɡɑːl/[5][6] (Frenchle Sénégal), officially the Republic of Senegal (République du SénégalIPA: [ʁepyblik dy seneɡal]), is a country in West Africa. It is the westernmost country in the mainland of the Old World or Eurafrasia[7] and owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north. Senegal covers a land area of almost 197,000 square kilometres (76,000 sq mi), and has an estimated population of about 13 million. The climate is tropical with two seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.

Senegal’s capital is Dakar. During the 17th and 18th centuries, numerous trading posts belonging to various European colonial empires were established along the coast. France took control of Senegal in 1677. Senegal was granted independence from France in 1960.

Major industries are fish processing, phosphate mining, fertilizer production, petroleum refining, construction materials, ship construction and repair. Peanutssugarcanecottongreen beans, industrial tomatocherry tomatomelon, and mango are important cash crops.[8]

Most Senegalese are Sufi Muslims or nondenominational Muslims. French is the official language. Since April 2012 Senegal’s president has been Macky Sall.

1. Etymology2. History3. Politics4. Geography5. Economy6. Demographics
7. Culture8. See also9. References10. Further reading11. External links


The Gambia

The Gambia (Listeni/ˈɡæmbiə/; officially the Republic of the Gambia and often called simply Gambia) is a country in West Africa. It is surrounded by Senegal, apart from a short strip of Atlantic coastline at its western end. It is the smallest country on mainland Africa.

The Gambia is situated on either side of the Gambia River, the nation’s namesake, which flows through The Gambia’s centre and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Its area is 10,689 square kilometres (4,127 sq mi) with a population of 1,882,450 at the 15 April 2013 Census (provisional). Banjul is the Gambian capital, and the largest cities are Serekunda and Brikama.

The Gambia shares historical roots with many other West African nations in the slave trade, which was the key factor in the placing and keeping of a colony on the Gambia River, first by the Portuguese, during which era it was A Gâmbia, and later by the British. In 1965 The Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom. Since gaining independence, the Gambia has had two leaders – Sir Dawda Jawara, who ruled from 1970 until 1994, when the current leader Yahya Jammeh seized power in a coup as a young army officer.[3]

The Gambia’s economy is dominated by farming, fishing, and tourism. About a third of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.[4]

1. History2. Geography3. Politics4. Economy5. Society6. Culture
7. See also8. Footnotes, 9. Further reading10. External links

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Gambia: The Formidable Baye Janha – An Incredible Guitar Legend

An African man playing the xalam.

Baye Janha plays the guitar like the ancient Khalam of the Wolof tribe of the Senegambia region and the Ganawa south Moroccan sound to a mass effect with his guitar. He was the band leader of the Gelewarr band, the Super Alligators, Fabulous Eagles, Supreme Eagles, Tambato band, the Karantaba band and Ifang Bondi. His playing technique can be distinctly heard on the SARABA CD/ALBUM recorded in Senegal on Griot records. He was awarded a medal in Algeria as one of Africa’s top guitarists with his solo group The Karantaba Band.

Full story:

Baay Bia – Liy Am Amna [Official Video w/Subtitles]

World-renowned Senegalese griot, singer, poet and emcee Baay Bia linked up with Nomadic Wax in 2007 on his first trip to the United States. Since then, he has toured with the Nomadic Wax ‘African Underground All Stars’ on numerous occasions. Baay Bia is a unique emcee who combines the traditional musical sounds of Senegal with contemporary hip hop and reggae. He rhymes and sings in Wolof and was born into a griot family, a lineage that has a major influence over his music and his sound. In July of 2009, Baay Bia worked together with Nomadic Wax filmmaker Magee McIlvaine (co-director of ‘Democracy in Dakar’) to put together a music video for ‘Liy Am Amna,’ one of Baay Bia’s most popular songs in Senegal.

Wolof Language – Wikipedia

 Wolof is a language of SenegalThe Gambia, and Mauritania, and the native language of the Wolof people. Like the neighbouring languages Serer and Fula, it belongs to the Senegambian branch of the Niger–Congo language family. Unlike most other languages of Sub-Saharan Africa, Wolof is not a tonal language.

Wolof Language from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Basic Wolof Phrases

See original list here: Some Essential Wolof Phrases
For help with pronunciation see: Pronunciation Guide

↓ scroll down for more resources ↓

Essentials | sólo

Wolof / Français
[Pulaar / Mandinka]


Salaam aleekum. / Bonjour.
sa·laam a·ley·kum / bon·zhoor
[P: No ngoolu daa. / M: I be ñaading.]

Mangi dem. / Au revoir.
maan·gee dem / o·rer·vwar
[P: Ñalleen e jamm. / M: Fo tuma doo.]

Bu la neexee. / S’il vous plaît.
boo la ney·khey / seel voo pley
[P: Njaafodaa. / M: Dukare.]

Thank you.
Jërejëf. / Merci.
je·re·jef / mair·see
[P: A jaaraamah. / M: I ning bara.]

You’re welcome.
Amul sólo. / Je vous en prie.
uh·mool so·lo / zher voo zom pree
[P: Enen ndendidum. / M: Mbee le dentaala.]

Waaw. / Oui.
wow / wee
[P: Eey. / M: Haa.]

Déedéet. / Non.
dey·deyt / non
[P: Alaa. / M: Hani.]

Sorry. (Excuse me.)
Baal ma. (Jéggël ma.) / Pardon. (Excusez-moi.)
baal ma (jey·guhl mah) / par·don (ek·skew·zay·mwa)
[P: Achanam hakke. (Yaafo.) / M: Hakko tuñe.]

Do you speak English?
Ndax dégg nga angale? / Parlez-vous anglais?
ndakh deg nguh an·ga·ley / par·ley·voo ong·ley
[P: Ada faama engale? / M: Ye angkale kango moyle?]

Do you understand? (Do you speak … ?)
Dégg nga? / Comprenez-vous?
deg nguh / kom·pre·ney·voo
[P: (Ada nana … ?) / M: (Ye … kango moyle?)]

I understand.
Dégg naa. / Je comprends.
deg na / zher kom·pron
[P: Mi faami. / M: Ngaa kalamuta le.]

I don’t understand.
Dégguma. / Je ne comprends pas.
deg·goo·ma / zher ner kom·pron pa
[P: Mi faamaani / M: Mma kalamuta.]

Wóoy! / Au secours!
wohy / o·skoor
[P: Ballal! / M: Nso orangzola!]

Continue reading Basic Wolof Phrases

Wolof Alphabet

Latin alphabet for Wolof

Latin alphabet for Wolof

Wolof (Latin) alphabet
Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ëë Ff Gg Ii
Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Ññ Ŋŋ Oo Pp
Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Ww Xx Yy

Wolof was first written with a version of the Arabic script known as Wolofal, which is still used by many older men in Senegal. The Wolof orthography using the Latin alphabet was standardised in 1974 and is the official script for Wolof in Senegal.

Wolof is also sometimes written with an alphabet devised by Assane Faye, a Senegalese artist, in 1961. This alphabet is written from right to left and is modelled loosely on the Arabic script.

Traduction Wolof

Dictionaries, translation and language resources

Home > Online dictionaries by language > Wolof dictionaries
Home > Online dictionaries by language > Wolof dictionaries

English Wolof Dictionary – 1995 (EN<->WO), Swedish/Wolof/English Dictionary (SV>WO-EN), Universal Declaration of Human Rights (MULTI) 
Freelang Dictionary (FR<->WO), Universal Declaration of Human Rights (MULTI) 
De Judicibus – Italian-Wolof General Dictionary (IT<->WO), Bravo – Wolof Swearing Dictionary (WO>IT), Universal Declaration of Human Rights (MULTI) 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (MULTI) 
Swedish/Wolof/English Dictionary (SV>WO-EN), Universal Declaration of Human Rights (MULTI) 

Traduction Francais Wolof

Basic Wolof glossary in French.

Un petit lexique de base

Le vocabulaire de tous les jours
Le vocabulaire de tous les jours

Certaines choses difficiles à traduire

  • Way : synonyme de copain, pote, qu’on utilise aussi quand la personne n’est pas du tout un copain (laisse-moi way).
  • Dé ! : interjection qui marque la fin d’une phrase, pour en souligner fortement son contenu (il a trop duré dé !).
  • Dal : signifie « alors » et sert également à insister : toi dal. Sert également de virgule.
  • Sakh : utilisé avec « torop » (voir ci-dessous), signigie « même » et permet d’accentuer le caractère excessif d’une chose : ki, da fa rafet torop sakh = elle, elle est très jolie même.
  • Nag : signifie « en tout cas, aussi ». Kon nag : donc
  • Chetetet ! : exclamation utilisée pour marquer la stupéfaction la plus totale. (Le car rapide est tombé de l’autoroute : chetetet !)
  • Borom : propriétaire, patron, chef : Borom kër : chef de famille – borom bitik : boutiquier – borom taxi : chauffeur de taxi.
  • Xanna : signifie « est-ce que », mais s’emploie lorsqu’on suppose que la réponse est positive : Xanna il est fou ?

Traduction En Wolof

Wolof audio translation of an Islamic speech.

AUDIOS – Traduction en Wolof du « Wassilatoul Mouna ou Tayssir » de Seydil Hadj Malick SY

AUDIOS - Traduction en Wolof du « Wassilatoul Mouna ou Tayssir » de Seydil Hadj Malick SY
AUDIOS – Traduction en Wolof du « Wassilatoul Mouna ou Tayssir » de Seydil Hadj Malick SY

Learn Wolof



Wolof Video Course

5 Video lessons/chapters are available for free. The site is funded by a grant and they are looking for contributors to help develop more learning materials.

Wolof Online

A Wolof Primer. Some people say Wolof if too hard to learn or teach, this website is seeking to prove them wrong. There ae 11 learning modules (for a fee) and a English-Wolof dictionary and Wolof grammar text that you can download for free in .pdf format.

Wikipedia – Wolof

Improve your Wolof language skills by reading the Wolof language version of Wikipedia.

Learning Wolof Language

An Annotated Guide to Learning the Wolof Language

An Annotated Guide to Learning the Wolof Language
An Annotated Guide to Learning the Wolof Language

So you would like to learn Wolof?

This site offers links to a whole lot of resources both on and off the Internet to help you do just that. We give you some guidance about how to go about learning Wolof, especially if you have access to a native Wolof speaker. We have provided a guide on how to make each sound in Wolof. We have also provided a detailed Senegalese Wolof grammar manual (.pdf format, 382kB) and a number of vocabulary resource pages, listing Wolof vocabulary for a particular subject. Then there are resources you might find helpful. And the Internet provides plenty of things for you to read and listen to in Wolof. A good number of institutions in the U.S.A and Europe actually have Wolof courses. Finally there are various articles about the Wolof language and its use, right from the very light to serious academic works. A new addition to the site is a series of modules in Wolof for the program Online Bible including those parts of the Bible in Wolof published to date, a gospel harmony, a Wolof Bible dictionary, and a Wolof-English Bible dictionary-concordance.

Francais Wolof

Wolof resources in French.

Dictionnaire wolof

Dictionnaire wolof
Lexilogos – mots et merveilles d’ici et d’allieurs


 Dictionnaire wolof-français & français-wolof (extraits) par Jean-Léopold Diouf (2003) dictionnaire wolof > français & français > wolof (succinct) dictionnaire wolof-anglais [PDF]

 proverbes wolofs & traduction en français

 Dictionnaire français-volof & abrégé de la grammaire volofe, par V.-J. Guy-Grand & O. Abiven (1923) 

 La langue wolof & vocabulaire français-wolof, par Jean-Baptiste Rambaud (1903)

 Dictionnaire français-wolof et français-bambara, par Jean Dard (1825)

 dictionnaire wolof > français

Apprendre Le Wolof

Online Wolof course in French.

Cours De Wolof

Damay Jang Wolof
Les Cours de Wolof en ligne

Vous pouvez en plus des leçons télécharger le dictionnaire Freelang. Il vous permet :

– de faire une recherche de mots le français et le wolof.
– d’ajouter vos propre mots de vocabulaires que vous apprendrez dans les leçons.
– de créer des listes d’apprentissages sous forme de jeu pour assimiler petit à petit le vocabulaire.

Mode d’emploi :
1) télécharger le programme en cliquant ici 
2) décompressez le (automatique avec Windows XP)
3) Ouvrez dictionnaire.exe
4) Ouvrez install.exe
5) Ca y est c’est fini ! Il ne vous reste plus quà lancer le programme en allant dans “démarrer -> programmes ->dictionnaire”

Wolof Phrases: “am”

am – to be, exist, to have; a/an; imperative; or


Ndëmm amul.He said that witchcraft does not exist.

Am na ñetti doom.He has three children.

Am sa caabi!Take your key!

Dafa am xel-ñaar ci mbir mi, moo tax joxeegul tontam.He hesitated on the issue, which is why he has not yet given his answer. (am xel-ñaarhesitate)


Source: Dictionnaire wolof-français, Arame Fal.

Pulaar Phrases: Essentials

Hello. – No ngoolu daa.
Goodbye. – Ñalleen e jamm.
Please. – Njaafodaa.
Thank you. – A jaaraamah.
You’re welcome. – Enen ndendidum.
Yes. – Eey.
No. – Alaa.
Excuse me. – Yaafo.
Sorry. – Achanam hakke.
Help! – Ballal!

Wolof Vocabulary: Meat


beef – yarpe-nack
chicken – yarpe-ganarre
goat – yarpe-baiy
hamburger – hamburger
lamb – yarpe-harre
meat – yarpa
pork – yarpe-mbam
shrimp – cepa-cepa


Source: Wolof Dictionary & Phrasebook, Nyima Kantorek.

Wolof Grammar: Conjunctions


The coordinating conjunctions in English are: and, but, or, yet, for, nor & so.


In this post we will be dealing specifically with the and conjunction which in Wolof is ak/ag when connecting nouns and pronouns or te when connecting verbs and phrases.


Below are examples of ak in use:


ak kan? – and who?
man ak yow – me and you
ndey ak baay – mother and father
bile ak bale – this and that
suma xaalis ak sa xaalis – my money and your money


Ak also means with:


mu tase fa ak bukkihe encountered there a hyena
ak jamma – with peace, in peace
kaay ak ñun – come with us
pañe bi dafa fees ak dojthe basket is full of stones
dox na ñaar i fan ak fas am – he went for two days with his horse
mu rendi ko ak paaka – he cut its throat with a knife
kaay lekka ak ñun – come eat with us


When used with numbers ak is used like plus:


fukk ak benn – eleven
fukk ak ñaar – twelve
fukk ak ñett – thirteen


Source: Gambian Wolof – English Dictionary, David P. Gamble.

Wolof Religion: Islamic Terms


Asalaam alaikum.
May peace be with you. (greeting)

Malaikum salaam.
And with you be peace. (reply to above)

Allahu akbar.
God is greater. (than me, you, anything)

Praise God. (said to thank God)

In God’s name. (said before meals)

If God wills it. (refers to a future action)

What God wishes. (indicates a good omen)

World Bank IDA – Senegal: Nutrition and Education

• 84 percent gross primary school enrollment rate in 2008, up from 67 percent in 2002
• 24 percent of children under age five reached by an integrated package of community nutrition activities

The International Develepment Association, IDA, is the World Bank’s Fund for the Poorest. One of the world’s largest sources of aid, IDA provides support for health and education, infrastructure and agriculture, and economic and institutional development to the 79 poorest countries – 39 of them in Africa. These countries are home to 2.5 billion people, 1.5 billion of whom survive on $2 a day or less.

Senegalese Wrestling

Laamb – la lutte sénégalaise

Pro Wrestling, Senegal Style
Pro Wrestling, Senegal Style

Pro Wrestling, Senegal Style –

Senegalese wrestling
Senegalese wrestling match at the stade Demba Diop in Dakar.

Senegalese wrestling (fr. Lutte sénégalaiseNjom in Serer languageLaamb in Wolof) is a type of Folk wrestling traditionally performed by the Serer people and now a national sport in Senegal and parts of The Gambia, and is part of a larger West African form of traditional wrestling (fr. Lutte Traditionnelle). The Senegalese form traditionally allows blows with the hands (frappe), the only of the West African traditions to do so. As a larger confederation and championship around Lutte Traditionnelle has developed since the 1990s, Senegalese fighters now practice both forms, called officially Lutte Traditionnelle sans frappe (for the international version) and Lutte Traditionnelle avec frappe for the striking version. Senegalese wrestling – Wikipedia

Laamb glossary:

laamb – traditional Senegalese wrestling. Laamb is the Wolof word for wrestling which is borrowed from Serer Fara-Lamb Siin (Fara of Mandinka origin whilst Lamb of Serer origin) the chief griot who used to beat the tam-tam of Sine called Lamb or Laamb in Serer. The lamb was part of the music accompaniment of wrestling in pre-colonial times as well as after Senegal’s independence. The Serer word for wrestling is njom which derives from the Serer word jom (heart or honour). In French it is called Lutte sénégalaise. 

gris-gris (pronounced gree-gree) – also spelled grigri, is a voodoo amulet originating in Africa which is believed to protect the wearer from evil or brings luck, and in some West African countries is used as a method of birth control. It consists of a small cloth bag, usually inscribed with verses from the Qur’an and containing a ritual number of small objects, worn on the person. Although the exact origins of the word are unknown, some historians trace the word back to the African word juju meaning fetish. An alternative theory is that the word originates with the French joujou meaning doll or play-thing.

mbër – Laamb wrestler.

bàkk – a type of dance performed before a match. (not sure if this is something that is still done or something that was done before it became a national sport)

More YouTube – Senegalese wrestling videos

Wolof Video w/English Subs – XALA


It is the dawn of Senegal’s independence from France, and as Dakar citizens celebrate in the streets we soon become aware that only faces have changed in the handover of power. White money still controls the government.

Wolof Phrases: At The Market

How [much/many]?
[Ñaata] la?

How much are you [selling] this for?
Ñaata ngay [jaaye] bii?

How much is it?
Ñaata lay [jar]? (lit. ‘how much is it [worth]’)

That’s [expensive]!
[Seer] na lóol! (lit. ‘very [expensive]’) 

I will [pay] 1000 CFA.
[Fey] naa  la ñaari teemeeri dërëm.

What did [you] say?
[Nga] ni?

[Lower] your price!
[Waññil]! (lit. ‘[reduce]’)

I’ll add [100 CFA] but no more.
Tekk naa ci [ñaar-fukk] du ma ci yokk dara.

I can’t add [any] more.
Du ma ci tekk [dara].

[Give] me the money.
[Indil] xaalis bi.

[How much] is that?
[Ñaata] la?

Pulaar Vocabulary: Anatomy

abdomen – réédu (ndu); abdominal – ko faati e  réédu ~ pain reedu muusooru.

back – keeci (ki); ɓaawo (ngo); caggal (ngal). ~ up wallude; heedande. I will back him up Ma mi wallu mo. talk behind someone’s ~ ñohde. come ~ artude; backache – kééci muusóówi I have a backache Mbeɗe wondi e keeci muusoowi; backbone – nooral (ngól).

cardiac – ko faati e ɓernde; cardiology – jangde ɓernde.

dental – ko faati e ñiiϒe/ñiire; dentist – doktoor ñiiϒe.

ear – nofru (ndu). I am all ears Mbeɗe heɗi maa.

face – yeeso (ngo). side of the ~ hanawere. make a ~ ŋooɓde. face to face kuccondiral (ngal).

gastric – ko faati é réédu; gastrology – jangde mbaadi e ñabbuuli réédu.

hand – jungo (ngo). from ~ to ~ jungo e jungo; hand v. – tottude; rókkude. Hand it over to me Heɓnam ɗum.

intestine – téktékól (ngól); intestinal – ko faati é téktékól.

jaw – golgolal (ngal); gabgal (ngal).

knee – hofru (ndu). Down on your knees Dicco; kneecap – tumude hófru.

leg – koyngal (ngal); cakutal (ngal). lower ~ korlal (ngal). Pull someone’s ~ fuuntude; gaajaade.

mouth – hunuko (ko). Open your mouth Muɓɓit hunuko maa; mouthful – wooɓre (nde); longere (nde).

nasal – ko faati e hinere.

ophthalmic (of the eye) – ko faati e gite/yitere; ophthalmologist – cafroowo gite.

penis – soolde (nde); kaake gorko.

rectum – ɓaawo (ngo).

shin – korlal (ngal).

teeth – ñiiϒe (ɗe). remove one’s ~ solde ñiiϒe mum; teethe – fuɗde ñiiϒe.

uvula – ɗakañe (o).

vagina – fii (o); sedere (nde); kóttu (ngu); melde (nde); vaginal – ko faati e kaake debbo.

waist – dadorde (nde); nadorde (nde); waistline – duhorde (nde); duhórgól (ngól); nadornde (nde).


Source: Pulaar-English Standard Dictionary, Dr. Mamadou Niang.

Wolof Vocabulary: Pronouns

I – maan
me – ma
my – suma
mine – suma
you – yow
your – seen
yours – seen
he – ñoom
she –  ñoom
it – ñoom
him – ñoom
her – ñoom
his – ñoom
hers – ñoom
its – ñoom
their – ñoom
theirs – ñoom

Wolof Grammar: Describing People and Things


Mouse over individual Wolof words for definitions.


Naka la mel?What is he/she/it like?

This question can refer to both physical and moral descriptions.


The term dafa is usually used to answer this question:

Dafa njool.He/she is tall.
Suma xarit bi dafa em.My friend is medium sized.
Kër gi dafa réy.The compound (home) is big.


For plurality you can use deñu:

Deñu gaata.They/we are short.


You can also substitute dafa with a relative pronoun:

Dafa njool./Ku njool la.He/she is tall./He is a tall person.


For deñu:

Deñu gaata./Ñu gaata leñu.They are short.


Source: Wollof Grammar Manual, Peace Corps, The Gambia.

Wolof – Religion and Expressive Culture

A short document on the Wolof culture. I think this might apply more to rural regions as this is not exactly my experience in Senegal, which was primarily in urban areas, although there were definitely elements. A nice plus is that it gives us a handful of new words to add to our Wolof vocabulary.

Wolof – Religion and Expressive Culture


jinn – malevolent spirits (Arabic, similar to ‘demons’)
taalibé – a disciple (usually young boys in the service of a marabout)
seriñ (marabout) – a religious leader
mnqaddam – a type of marabout
yélimaan – imam (a Muslim leader, like a priest or a preacher)
jabarkat – shaman; sorcerer
lu gakat – a shaman who cures snakebite victims
ndëpukat – usually a female, who performs the ndëp ceremony to cure the mentally ill
botai mbar – man in charge of newly circumcised boys
Korité – the feast at the end of Ramadan
Tabaski – the feast of the sacrifice of sheep (from the Biblical story of Abraham)
nggentée – naming ceremony
xalam – a type of guitar

Film en langue Wolof (English subtitles) avec Kadi Jolie


A film in the Wolof language. With good humor, an aunt gives her teenage niece heart advice on men and their predatory instincts … Idea: Aram Dieye, 16 (Senegal) / Directed by: Idrissa Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso). A film collection SCENARIOS dAfric ( Wolof with English subtitles version.

Wolof Phrases


Move cursor over words for translations.


Gànnaar lañuy jënde dàkkaande ji di ko jaaysi fii.

Ils achètent la gomme en Mauritanie pour la revendre ici.

They buy gum in Mauritania for resale here.


Bul naagu, dara sotteegul.

Il ne faut pas te montrer trop assuré, rien n’est encore acquis définitivement.

Do not be too assured, nothing is for granted. (Do not show yourself too assured, nothing is for granted.)


Tànn-béer ja war naa guddee tas.

La soirée dansante a dû se terminer tard.

The dance had ended late.


Sources: Dictionnaire wolof-français, par Arame Fal, Rosine Santos et Jean Léonce Doneux; Gambian Wolof-English Dictionary, David P. Gamble;

Pulaar: Numbers

  1. one – go-o
  2. two – didi
  3. three – tati
  4. four – nayi
  5. five – joyi
  6. six – jeego
  7. seven – jeedidi
  8. eight – jeetati
  9. nine – jeenayi
  10. ten – sappo
  11. eleven – sappoygoo
  12. twelve – sappoydidi

source: Lonely Planet, The Gambia & Senegal

Wolof Grammar: Suffixes

-a : indicates distance from the speaker (usually on def. art.); fas wi – this horse here; fas wathat horse there

-aale : indicates ‘somewhat’; ‘-ish’; ‘with’; soreyaalesomewhat far; weexaale – whitish; yobbuwaale – to take with one

-aan : indicates habitual or professional action; woyaan to sing as a profession; nooraanto spend the dry season (habitual)

-aat : indicates ‘again’; ñowaat – to come again

-aay : indicates abstraction; rafetaay – beauty (rafet = beautiful)

-adi : implies diminution;  dofadi – to be slightly crazy

-agul : indicates ‘not yet’; ñowagul – he has not yet come


source: David P. Gamble, Gambian Wolof-English Dictionary

Wolof Vocabulary

  1. a  –  it is (cf. la); Yallaa ko def. – It is God who did it. [Yalla + a]; Omar a ko wax. – It is Omar who said it. Man a. – It is I.
  2. balafoŋ bi  –  xylophone
  3. cof  –  to peck
  4. dey (de)  –  emphatic article; Man dey… As for me…
  5. e (a + e = ee)  –  a suffix making intransitive verbs transitive; genna to go out; gennee to put out
  1. custom/tradition  –  aada ji (Ar.)
  2. Adam  –  Aadama (a name given to a twin, the other being Hawa [Eve]); doom i Aadama yi – human beings
  3. desire/need  –  aajo ji (Ar.)
  4. whitish (to be)  –  weex-aale
  5. protect (to)  –  aar; kaar gi – protection; aar yaram wi – to protect the body

Source: David P. Gamble – Gambian Wolof – English Dictionary


Bocande R.I.P.

Former Senegal star Bocande dies

DAKAR, Senegal, May 8 – Former Senegal international striker Jules-Francois Bocande died on Monday at the age of 54, the Senegalese Football Federation (FSF) announced.

Bocande had been unwell for several months after suffering a stroke and died following a surgical procedure, according to the Senegalese Press Agency (APS).
He enjoyed his greatest success as a player with Metz, where he was crowned top scorer after netting 25 goals in France’s Ligue 1 championship in the 1985-86 season.
Bocande also played for Paris Saint-Germain, Nice and Lens in France and participated in three Africa Cups of Nations with his country, whom he captained and then went on to coach during the 1990s.
“I’m totally devastated,” said FSF president Augustin Senghor.
“It’s an enormous loss for Senegalese football. We knew that he was suffering. Bocande revived Senegalese football. He gave everything to Senegalese football through his talent and his commitment.”

Wolof Phrases: Language Difficulties


Do you speak English? 
Ndax dégg nga angale?

Do you understand?
Dégg nga?

   I understand.
   Dégg naa.

   I don’t understand.

Could you please … ?
Ndax mën nga … su la neexee?

   repeat that
   ko waxaat

   speak more slowly
   wax ndànk

   write it down
   ko bind



Source: Lonely Planet Africa Phrasebook

Pulaar: Vocabulary

aplenty adj. keewdum; ko heewi.
bind v. jokkondirde; habbude.
casque n. kaske.
dilate v. yuufde; yaajde.
environment n. sara; saraaji.

anande v. be jealous of.
bonnitde v. denigrate; vilify; debase; spoil again. (from bonande – damage; mess; waste; tragedy; havoc; destruction.  Dum ko bonande It is  a waste.
cuutirgal – instrument for lifting or pulling out.
deedol – a cut. (from deedaade v. cut oneself accidentally.)
endu – breast; bosom; pap; womb. daccude ~ wean. endi pl.

Entries from Dr. Mamadou Niang’s Pulaar Standard Dictionary.

Wolof Grammar: Definite Article

An article (abbreviated art.) is a word that combines with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun. Articles specify the grammatical definiteness of the noun, in some languages extending to volume or numerical scope. The articles in the English language are ‘the’ and ‘a/an’, and (in some contexts) ‘some’. – Wikipedia

In this post we will be dealing with the definite article. In English the definite article is ‘the’. In Wolof the definite article changes depending on the word type as well as the relation of the noun to the speaker. Definite articles indicate something specific or familiar to the listener. For example, if I was to say “the dog”, you would understand that I was talking about a particular dog. If I was to say “a dog” it could mean any dog.

In Wolof, the initial letter of the definite article varies:

bunta bi  –  the door
ganaar gi  –  the fowl
jigeen ji  –  the woman
nit ki  –  the person
nda li  –  the water pot
muus mi  –  the cat
suuf si  –  the earth
ween wi  –  the breast

Also note that the def. art. always follows the noun rather than precede it as in English.

The plural form of each def. art. is yi, with the exception of ki which is ñi.

xale yi  –  the children

Other than the plural form, there are three forms of the def. art. -i indicates nearness to the speaker, -a indicates distance from the speaker and -u is a relative form.

xale bi  –  the child (right here)
xale ba  –  the child (over there)

xale bu bon  –  the bad child (the child who is bad)

The -i form is also sort of the default form. Use this form when unsure which form to use. Also, bi, is the most common def. art. Use this one when the def. art. is not known. You can also sometimes get away with using the def. art. whose first letter matches the first letter of the noun if there is one, for example, gennax gi.

These rules generally apply across the board but some regions, or even some individual speakers, may switch them around.

The following list is a description of each definite article and when they are used. The list is ordered in frequency of use from the most common to the least common.


  • found with nearly all nouns beginning with b, except for the names of trees, which use g-.
  • most nouns relating to persons, except for nit ki and terms of relationship which use j-.
  • most words borrowed from French, English and Mandinka, etc.
  • the names of fruits.
  • many parts of the body.
  • where a verbal root and a noun have the same form the article is most commonly bi.


  • used with many words beginning with g and k and all tree names.
  • if a word ends in ŋ there is a tendency to follow it with g-.


  • used with many words beginning with j.
  • most words borrowed from Arabic.
  • many words involving kinship.


  • found with some words beginning with m and some beginning with p. The latter were probably nasalized mp in old Wolof.
  • used primarily where the initial consonant is nasalized, mb, etc.
  • a number of liquids have the article m-.


  • found with words beginning with a vowel, y, w and x.
  • most insects have the w- article.


  • used with only a few words beginning with l but commonly with words beginning with nd, ng and c.


  • used with fewer words beginning with s than might be expected.
  • powdery substances usually have the article s-.
  • s- is also a diminutive form, the initial consonant of the noun being changed – nd, ng, etc.


  • rarely used except for nit ki.

In some cases the article changes the definition of the word.

ndaw si  –  the girlfriend
ndaw li  –  the messenger

doom ji  –  the child
doom bi  –  the fruit

The contents of this post is from my personal notes as well as a considerable portion from the research of anthropologist David P. Gamble.


Movement to End Female Circumcisions

A movement in the African nation of Senegal is having a major impact in ending female genital cutting. A group called Tostan, which means “breakthrough” in Wolof, Senegal’s dominant language, is building change without the billions of dollars that have poured into other global health issues. The group, which has gotten support from more than 5,000 villages in the country, is creating African-style education programs to warn against the dangers of the practice. Female circumcisions are viewed as a rite of passage, but some girls die from hemorrhaging due to botched attempts. The Senegalese Parliament banned the practice more than a decade ago, and the government has been very supportive of Tostan.

Read it at New York Times

October 17, 2011 12:38 PM

Janga Laaka English to Wolof & French Dictionary


I have just uploaded the Janga Laaka Wolof/English Dictionary. It’s available for a minimal charge. Why am I charging for this? Well, because I have invested a lot of time and energy into this project and like everyone else I have to make a living! Don’t fret though, all the contents of this book will be available on this blog for FREE. The charge for the download is for the convience of owning your own personal copy that you can take with you anywhere regardless of internet availability. You can also print it out and have your own personal hardcopy to take with you even when you don’t have a computer or a smartphone handy.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT version !!! So, therefore there may be a few errors. Why am I offerring a rough version instead of a finished product? Because, due to lack of time and funding I don’t see me completing this project anytime soon, and since I’ve gotten many, many requests for this product I’ve decided to go ahead and share what I have so far. If after reading this you’ve decided to go ahead and download anyway then I thank you very much for your purchase!

Follow this link to download:


Vendredi Française (French Friday); Vocabulary


The purpose of French Friday is to expand your language capabilities while in West Africa (specifically Senegal). Many Wolof speakers can also understand French and sometimes using French to get your point across is easier than using Wolof since it’s a language closer to our own.


  • attelage – coupling, hitch, team, harness, yoke
  • calandre – radiator grill, calendar, mangle
  • citadin/citadine – city dweller, town, city, urban
  • collectionner – to collect
  • crasse – grime, filth, crass
  • défaillance – blackout, weakness, fault, failure
  • enchère – bid
  • entendre – to hear, to understand, to mean
  • faune – wildlife, fauna, set, crowd
  • file – line


Source: Collins French Concise Dictionary 5th Edition. (


Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Wolof w/Breakdown


Doomi aadama yépp danuy juddu, yam ci tawfeex ci sag ak sañ-sañ. Nekk na it ku xam dëgg te ànd na ak xelam, te war naa jëflante ak nawleen, te teg ko ci wàllu mbokk. (listen to audio)

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.


doom – child, doll, fruit, tablet (of medicine), ashes
doom i aadama – human being; doom i Aadama yi – human beings
Aadama – Adam (Ar.), a name given to a twin the other being Hawa (Eve)
yépp/yéppa – all
danuy/dañu – they
juddu – to be born
yam – ?
ci – to, in, at, a bit, some
tawfeex – ?
sag – honor, personality, charm
ak (ag) – and, with (used with nouns and pronouns)
sañsañ – to be authorized, to dare, to stop up (note: the sources I used only had ‘sañ‘ as a single word, not doubled, so uncertain if that changes the definition)
nekk/nekka/neka – to be at a place; ku nekka – everyone
na – he/she has, sign of optative, like, how (naka)
it – also
ku – article, relative form, or interrogative
xam – to know
dëgg/dégga – to hear, understand
te – to be stubborn, and, (as a suffix indicates repition of action)
ànd – together?
xelam – (to have?) intelligence, mind (my source only has ‘xel‘. I’m guessing the suffix ‘-am‘ indicates possession)
war – to mount (a horse, etc.), ought to, to have to
naa – I have
jëflante/jeflante – reciprocal, relationship (jéf/jëf – action, act, deed)
nawleen – (closest I could find was ‘naw‘ which means ‘to esteem highly’ & ‘breath’/’nawle‘ – person of the same rank, rival – ‘leen‘ is a plural form of ‘you’ so I’m guessing this is a compound word)
teg/tek – saddle; tega – to put down; teggin – politeness, courtesy; tegoo – to support
ko – him, it
wàllu (walla?) – share, part; (wollu?) – to save, help
mbokk/mbokka – relative, to be related


Sources:, David P. Gamble dictionary,


‘Lonely Planet Phrasebooks Africa’ Book Review

Africa Phrasebook
Africa Phrasebook

This book should be available at your local bookstore. Travel and outdoor stores also often carry Lonely Planet titles. If you prefer to do all your book shopping online then Amazon or the Lonely Planet website should be your best bets.

I’m a fan of Lonely Planet publications. In my opinion they are the best. Their products are visually appealing and packed with information in a very easy to find format. They use a very simple pronunciation key to aid in the pronunciation of every word in the book.

The only problems I have with this book is that the Wolof section is rather small (as are all the sections) but what they do have is very good. Much of the Wolof used is actually Wolofized French and not traditional Wolof…which is fine considering this is not a “lesson book” but a book designed for easy communication for travellers. The book also includes sections for French & Arabic among several other African languages.


Sample entry from book:

I need a doctor (who speaks English).   Dama soxla doktoor (bu dégg angale).   da•ma sokh•la dok•tohr (boo deg an•ga•le)



  • Pronunciation
  • Introduction
  • Language Difficulties
  • Time, dates & numbers
  • Border Crossing
  • Tickets
  • Transport
  • Directions
  • Accommodation
  • Banking & Communications
  • Tours
  • Shopping
  • Making Conversation
  • Eating Out
  • Emergencies
  • Medical Needs
  • Dictionary

At the Restaurant (Ci Restoraan)


Wolof does not have a natural way to say “please”, but the phrases given here are all polite ways of asking for help or placing your order.


I am hungry – Da maa xiif [da maa – I am, xiif – hungry]
I am thirsty – Da maa mar [mar – thirsty]

Excuse me… – Baal ma
Where is the nearest restaurant? – Fan moo am restoraan? [fan – where, am – indefinite article]
Where is the toilet/restroom? – Fan mooy seen wanaag? [seen – your, wanag/wanok – washing place/toilet]

Thank you – Jërëjëf


Phrases from ‘Say It In Wolof’ by A. Gueye, word definitions from dictionary by D.P. Gamble.


Languages of Senegal: Hassaniyya


Hassaniyya (Klem El Bithan) is the variety of Arabic originally spoken by the Beni Hassan Bedouin tribes, who extend their authority over most of Mauritania and the Western Sahara between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. It has almost completely replaced the Berber languages spoken in this region. Though clearly a western dialect, Hassaniya is relatively distant from other North African variants of Arabic. Its geographical location exposed it to influence from Zenaga and Wolof. There are several dialects of Hassaniya. The primary differences among them are phonetic. Today Hassaniya is spoken by inhabitants of Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Senegal and the Western Sahara. – Wikipedia



Some of these terms may be familiar to some of us as many of these are also used by Wolof speakers but perhaps pronounced a bit differently.


Isselaamu aleykum – Peace be upon you
We aleykum isselaam – And on you, too
Ish haal issbaah – Good morning
Ish haal limgiil – Good afternoon
Ish haal limbaat – Good evening
Eyaak ilkhayr? – Are you in peace?
Ilkhayr ilhamdulillaah – Peace only
Ish haalak? – How are you?
Lebaas meshaallaah – I am fine
Ish haal usrtak? – How is the family?
Lebaas liihum – They are fine
Ish haal ishshaqle? – How is the work?
Lebaas meshaallaah – It is fine
Ish haalak ma ilvetre? – How are you with tiredness?
Lebaas meshaallaah – I am fine
Ish haal Soukeyna? – How is Soukeyna?
Soukeyna lebaas liihe – Soukeyna is fine
Ish haal ishaashrtak? – How are your children?
Lebaas liihum – They are fine
Merhbe! – Welcome!
Shukran! – Thank you!


From the Peace Corps. Go to: Hassaniya_Language_Lessons.pdf for more (PDF).


Moom It Dina Ñow (Phrase Breakdown)

moom it dina ñowhe also will come

moom – in this sence means ‘he/she‘ (emphatic form) but can also mean ‘to own‘.
it/itamalso (as a suffix ‘-it‘ indicates ‘again‘; it can also be a suffix for the result of an action – added to a verb root. Ex. dammato break‘. dammitpieces‘).
dina – (di + na); di indicates a future action “he will“; di + noun makes a positive statement (he is, etc.); di as a prefix to –oon (doon) = past completed, –aan (daan) = past habitual
ñowto come/arrive; can also mean ‘to be sharp‘ (sometimes written as ñaw)

Definitions from David P. Gamble’s Gambian Wolof-English Dictionary 1990. I don’t think this book has ever been professionally published. My copy is a typed (typwriter NOT computer) photocopy with hand-written diacritical marks in a three-ringed binder. You may be able to find a copy at your local university.

Ferry Transportation – Phrases & Breakdown


Ferries cross every day from Banjul to Barra, and to Dakar, the capital of Senegal. The accomodations range from basic to luxury. Schedules vary, but the ferries are quick and reliable. – Nyima Kantorek

Note that the source for these use an unusual orthography


Where is the ferry going? – Fern la ferry be de dem?
fern/fan = where (also: day/date), ferry = ferry (chalupe in Senegal), be/bi = the, dem = go

I want to go to… – Dama buga dem
dama = I would like, buga/bëgg = desire/like/need/want/intend/intent

How long would it take to get to…? – Fe behnyarta wahhtu lar jaile?
fe/fi = here, beh = until, nyarta/ñaata = amount/cost/many/much, wahhtu/waxtu = hour/time, jaile = take

How many passengers does the ferry take? – Ferry be nyarta nitt lar ebb?
nitt = person/people, ebb = load/pack

How long does the ferry stay in…? – Ferry be de na yarga…?
na/naka = how, yarga = last

What time is it returning? – Bern wahhtu lar lay dealusy?
bern/ban = which/what, dealusy = come back


Phrases and definitons from the Wolof Dictionary & Phrasebook by Nyima Kantorek, published by Hippocrene. The only Wolof/English dictionary in mass publication as far as I can tell; For that alone it makes the book a worthwhile purchase, however the book uses a very non-standard orthography that, although specially designed for English speakers, makes it more difficult to learn the language. Every Wolof speaker that I’ve shown it to, whether native or as a second language, did not recognize it as Wolof and even they had a hard time with it. The book is primarily Gambian dialect.


Online Collaborative Dictionary is different from other Wolof dictionaries because it’s not built by ‘experts’; instead it’s created by everyday users of the Wolof language (yes, including you). Firicat is an attempt to create a living lexicon of this beautiful language. (from the website) screenshot

Wolof Question Words w/Audio Pronunciation


Wolof / English / French 

Kan?   Who?   Qui?
Lan?   What?   Quoi?
Ban?   Which?   Quel?
Nan? Naka?   How?   Comment?
Ñaata?   How much?   Combien?
Fan? Ana?   Where?   ?
Kañ?   When?   Quand?
Mbaa…?   …?   Estce que…?
Lutax?   Why?   Pourquoi?
Mootax, Ndaxte…   Because…   Parce que


I got busted for not giving credit to the YouTuber’s whose videos I post (my bad, I thought since the videos are basically links that it’s all good?) So to be a good citizen of the blogosphere and of the Internet at large I will do my civic duty and give credit to Languages1001 for posting this on YouTube.



Today is “Wolof Wednesday” on Twitter! The idea is for all of your tweets to be in Wolof to help promote the language and to help those of us who are still learning the language to get practice speaking (or typing) only Wolof. If you have an account come on over and join in…just don’t forget to use the hashtag ‘WolofWednesday’ (#WolofWednesday) on all of your Wolof tweets!

Vendredi Française (French Friday); Essential Phrases

Hello.   Bonjour/Salut. pol/inf   bon-zhoor/sa-lew
Goodbye.   Au revoir.   o-rer-vwar (literally “To see again.”)
Please.   S’il vous plaît. seel voo play (literally “If you please.”)
Thank you.   Merci.   mair-see
You’re welcome.   Je vous en prie.   zher voo zom pree
Yes.   Oui.   wee
No.   Non.   non
Excuse me.   Excusez-moi.   ek-skew-zay-mwa
Sorry.   Pardon.   par-don
I understand.   Je comprends.   zher kom-pron
I don’t understand.   Je ne comprends pas.   zher ner kom-pron pa
One moment, please.   Un moment, s’il vous plaît.   um mo-mon seel voo play
Help!   Au secours!   o-skoor

From Lonely Planet’s French Phrasebook (which I highly recommend) available at

Languages of Senegal: Pulaar

Pulaar is a dialect of Fula, a major African language both in its geographical distribution and number of speakers. Fula is spoken in Western, Eastern and Central Africa by over 25 million speakers. In addition to Africa, major concentrations of Fula speakers can be found in Europe and America. At the African Language Conference held in 1979 in Michigan, Fula was not only ranked high following the priority criteria utilized (i.e. -number of speakers; -political, cultural and social importance; -importance for US national interests) but it was also included in Group A Languages (Highest Priority). – Dr. Mamadou Niang

The Pulaar dialect is not uniform and some sources cite three different subvarieties; Fuutankoore, Jeerinkoore & Southern Pulaar.

  • fanaa – midday
  • liggude – hang up; hang. Liggu wutte maa. Hang your gown.
  • naafki – armpit. Naafki ma ina sicci. Your underarm smells badly. naafde pl.
  • sayeede – be rabid. rawaandu sayaandu a rabid dog
  • talde – cut a big piece of raw meat (v.)/big piece of raw meat (n.)
Definitions from Hippocrene Standard Pulaar-English Dictionary by Dr. Mamadou Niang. Available at A very nicely laid out dictionary however as far as I can tell the specific subvariety of Pulaar is not specified.

‘Say It In Wolof!’ Phrasebook Review

Say It In Wolof!‘ by Ababacar Gueye. Translated by Sue Hall.

BSDA No. 8531150404 3rd Edition (English) – Also available in French. ©2005

As far as I know it is not available online or anywhere outside of Senegal. It might be possible to special order it from the contact info below:

Lakki Reew Mi Project 1
568 Av. Abebe Bikila Grd Dakar. SN.
Mobile phone: 571.59.92

My review:

It’s a very short book but has a lot of useful phrases for everyday life in Dakar. The one minor flaw of this book is that there are a few typos. There is even an omission of a letter in the pronunciation section – there’s a description of how to pronounce the letter but where the letter should be is blank.

Sample phrase from book:

Three. How much is that? Ñett. Ñaata la?

Book contents:

  • Introduction
  • Pronouncing and writing certain sounds
  • Greetings and basic chit-chat
  • Numbers
  • Money
  • Negotiating prices
  • Taxis
  • Restaurant
  • Family
  • Times of day
  • Telling the time
  • Remarks
  • Thanks
Wolof Phrasebook
Say It In Wolof! by Ababacar Gueye

Follow JW On Twitter!

I just made a Twitter profile for Janga Wolof. The idea is to tweet (that’s the term right?) Wolof words & phrases…I would like to do that daily but I can’t promise that! Tweet updates about this Janga Wolof blog and who knows what else?

If you would like to follow Janga Wolof on Twitter then here ya go…

Fallou Dieng at Fete de Marquette

I finally got around to posting Katie Krueger’s Fallou Dieng video! Ndank ndank 🙂

Read her blog about the concert here: 

While I was perusing her great blog I thought I would jack a few videos from her while I was at it 🙂

And be sure to buy one (or several!) of her wonderful postcards:

Oh, and she has a new book for sale…check it out:


Quick Reference

Girl holding globe





salaam alaikum

suh-lahm uh-lay-koom

malaikum salaam

muh-lay-koom suh-lahm

greeting a group of people or entering one’s house

nanga def

nahn-guh def

maangi fi

mahn-gee fee

greeting an individual

ça va

suh vah

ça va

suh vah

greeting an individual in passing

ba beneen

bah ben-nen

ba beneen

bah ben-nen

upon leaving an individual





please su la neexee soo luh neh-hee s’il vous plaît see voo play
thank you jërejëf jair-ree-jeff merci mair-see
you’re welcome amul sóló ah-mool so-loe je vous en prie zhe voo zom pree





yes waaw wow oui wee
no déedéet deh-deht non nohn
maybe xejna hej-nuh peut-être per-tet





sorry baal ma bahl mah désolé day-so-lay
excuse me baal ma bahl mah excusez-moi ek-skue-zay mwa





Do you understand? Dégg nga? dayg nguh Comprenez-vous? kom-pre-nay voo
I understand. Dégg naa. dayg nah Je comprends. zhe kom-pron
I don’t understand. Dégguma. day-goo-mah Je ne comprends pas. zhe nuh kom-pron pah

Wolof Number Conversion

How to convert English numbers to Wolof:

(This only works for numbers 21 & higher and not for numbers evenly divided by 10.)

Take the number you want to convert to Wolof & divide by 10.

Take the whole number before the decimal, convert to Wolof & put ‘fukk ak’ after it.

Multiply the number that you dropped the decimal from by 10 & subtract from original number you wish to convert.

Convert this remaining number to Wolof and place after the ‘fukk ak’ for the complete Wolof number.

All About Senegalese Money

In Senegal they use the franc CFA. But the traditional unit of currency is the dërëm which is counted by fives. Usually when dealing with money most people will deal strictly with the French terms for simplicity. If Wolof is used the dërëm is implied if not specifically said. So for example junni is 5000, not 1000, even though dërëm has been left off. The generic Wolof term for money is xaalis.

BASIC EXCHANGE RATES – This is just for a general idea, exchange rates fluctuate constantly, with the exception of the euro which has a fixed rate of 655.957 CFA to 1 euro.

Use for up to date currency exchange rates.

What is the exchange rate? Quel est le taux de change?

CONVERTING DËRËM TO CFA – When talking money, the number ñaari teemeeri (200) is the same as ñaari teemeeri dërëm (1000 CFA). To get the CFA equivalent of dërëm, take the number of dërëm and multiply it by 5, for example, teemeeri dërëm – 100 dërëm or 100 x 5, is 500 CFA.

Sometimes CFA is written as FCFA or just F.

A comma is often used to indicate decimals. For example – 1,5 is the same as 1.5.
Also, a period is often used to indicate thousands. For example – 10.000 is the same as 10,000.

Common French terms for money:
l’argent means money, bills/notes are called les billets or les factures and change/coinage is called pièces de monnaie.

What is the price? Quel est le prix?
How much does it cost? Combien est-ce là?

Text excerpt from the upcoming Janga Wolof produced Senegalese Phrasebook & Information Guide. Publish date TBA.

Going to Senegal?

Customs & Duties – Some items are not allowed into the country without proper clearance by Senegalese customs officials. Although the list includes computers and cameras it is unlikely that you won’t be allowed in the country or that your items will be confiscated if you have them. If you are concerned about anything you may wish to bring you should contact the Senegal Embassy in your country or visit the Senegal Tourism Authority’s official website.

Senegal Embassy, Canada +1 613 238 6392
Senegal Embassy, UK +44 (0)20 7937 7237
Senegal Embassy, USA +1 202 234 0540
Senegal Tourism Authority

Text excerpt from the upcoming Janga Wolof produced Senegalese Phrasebook & Information Guide. Publish date TBA.

New Wolof Dictionary

Dictionary Definition Of Learn

This looks like a great promising dictionary…the only thing is that it’s mostly all in French but on the other hand this can be very helpful in learning the French along with your Wolof as you Google Translate the French into English!

Oh, and the address for the website? It is

Do me a favor…

If you happen to be in Senegal and you happen to catch a young lady with a “beauty” product known as lightening or whitening cream please confiscate it, snatch it out of her hand if you have to, empty out the contents, rub it into the dirt rendering it unusable and toss out the empty container. This is a terrible product, for one because it does not work like intended but rather causes nasty patches of blemished skin on the face and body. I have seen women so addicted to this wicked product that even though their face has turned into a bright purple mess they continue to use it. These women need to realize that their darkness is not repulsive and that black is beautiful, even the darkest of chocolate midnight black.

What’s Her/His name? Dialog with Breakdown

Starsky: Kii naka la tudd?
Hutch: Kii Vera Green la tudd.
Hutch: Kii vera la tudd.
Starski: Kii naka la sant?
Hutch: Kii Green la sant. / Vera Green la sant.

Kii naka la tudd?

What’s his/her name?
(literally: This person here, how is he/she called?)

naka — the equivalent of “what” in this case
tudd — verb: to be called

This question is answered either by giving the person’s first name, or the person’s first and last names:

Kii Vera la tudd.
Her name is Vera.
(This person here Vera is called.)

Kii Vera Green la tudd.
Her name is Vera Green.

Kii naka la sant?
What’s his/her family name?

sant — verb: to be called (family name)

This question is answered by giving the person’s family name only:

Kii Green la sant.
Her family name is Green.
(lit.: This person here, Green is called.)

Do not use kii if you already know first name.
Ex. (Vera) naka la sant?

Who is This? Dialog with Breakdown

Beavis: Kii kan la?
Butthead: Kii Tapha la.
Butthead: Kii Mel la.
Butthead: Kii Vera la.

(Kii) kan la?

Who is this person?
(literally: (This person) who is?)

kii — word usually accompanied by a gesture meaning this person (here)
kan? — who?

(Kii) Vera la.
This (person) is Vera.

I am = la — Croff la sant
you are = nga — Sarr nga sant
he/she is = le — Cole le sant

Would you like a fork with your fries?

Another cultural tidbit I noticed in Senegal was that although they ate traditional dishes such as rice or couscous with meat, vegetables and sauce with their hands, something in the West we would generally use utensils to eat, they ate things such as french fries and pizza with a fork when we would just use our hands. Go figure…

Simple Greeting Dialog with Breakdown

Bert: Asalaa maalekum.
Ernie: Maalekum salaam.
Bert: Nanga def?
Ernie: Mangi fii rekk.
Bert: Ana waa ker ga?
Ernie: Nunga fa.
Bert: Alhamdulilaay!

Asalaa maalekum
Malekum salaam

Greetings / Hello

from Arabic: Peace to you, and to you peace.

USE when entering or arriving at a place or when approaching an already established group.

Naka nga def?
Na nga def?

How are you doing?
(literally: How you do?)

na = naka — how
nga — you
def — verb: to do

An informal greeting. DON’T USE to initiate greetings with a person to whom you want to show respect.

Maa ngi fi rekk.

I am fine
(lit: I am here only.)

maa ngi — here I am
maa — presentative pronoun first person singular
fi — here
rekk — only

Ana waa ker ga?

How’s the family?

ana — how is / how are / where is / where are

waa ker ga — the people of the house, “the family”
waa — the people of / the inhabitants of
ker — house
ker gi — this house
ker ga — the house (distance)

Nu nga fa.

They are fine.
(lit: They are there.)

nu nga — they are
fa — there

nu ngi fi — they are here
nu nga fa — they are there


Thank God.
(from Arabic)

Some Pulaar Words 3

aawasaagal roguishness

Some Pulaar words 2

Mind Your Manners

It is customary in Senegal to greet anyone you come into contact with. If you come across a group of people, enter a dwelling or are meeting elders the Arabic greeting asalaam alaikum is appropriate. When greeting individuals the French bonjour or cava is good and alternately the Wolof nangadef works as well. It is also customary to shake hands when greeting someone. Also when entering a home shaking everyone’s hand, including the children, is common practice. Be sure to only use your right hand. There are some people, however, who will not shake hands with members of the opposite sex. It is also common practice to remove your shoes when entering homes so you may want to wear a pair that you can easily slip on and off. Most Senegalese wear flip-flops.

Text excerpt from the upcoming Janga Wolof produced Senegalese Phrasebook & Information Guide. Publish date TBA.

J’apprends le Wolof #3

Translated from J’apprends le Wolof by Jean-Leopold Diouf et Marina Yaguello. This is the introduction to the book.


1. Design Manual / Conception du manuel

This book is a method of learning wolof, a language foreign to francophones. It is intended for residents, the cooperating, businessmen and tourists. It could also be useful for teachers in national languages, or any other person wishing to have a better knowledge of the language wolof.

The method is especially designed for a learning guide. However, it is possible to use individually. In one case as in others, can not be overemphasized recommend a learner’s most total immersion in environments requiring a practice wolof.

To accommodate the manifold needs of learners, we chose themes as diverse as family relationships, professional, social, friendly, commercial, civil, etc.., Containing an elementary lexicon, but enough to face a different situations communication.

In addition, we sought to ensure a balance between learning wolof by a communicative approach and learning wolof by an analytical approach.

The points of grammar that may fall in the manual have been carefully selected and should allow the learner to acquire the basic structures of wolof. All these points are explained in the units or they appear.

The written exercises are planned at the end of each unit. Their number varies from one unit to another depending on the difficulty of the grammar has acquired.

All exercises should be made and, as many times as a learning experience need.

For each exercise, a model is given. The learner must study the structure therein is made, before formulating are shown next to each segment of the year. A system cache that the learner is confectionnera prevent him throwing a glance the answer before he made the effort necessary.

2. The place of wolof in Senegal / La place du wolof au Sénégal

The wolof is part of the language group called west-Atlantic. It is mainly spoken in Senegal and Gambia, but also in Mauritania.

There are, in Senegal, six languages that have received the status of national languages: wolof, Serer, Pulaar, the Mandingo, soninke and Diola.

These languages were officially selected for communication in the media, and education. Moreover, the French remains the official language.

Of the six national languages, wolof is most spoken. It is the language of ethnic wolof who figure 2,285,000 people, representing 40% of the population of Senegal. The traditional Wolof area extends from north to south, from the delta of the atlantic coast of the desert Ferlo.

But it is also wolof language vehicle. About 80% of the population on the practice throughout the territory and this, mainly in urban areas.

The advantage that the wolof had on other national languages can not be explained both by the number of native wolof or by their geographical distribution (Walo, Cayor, Diolof, Baol, Saloum) and by the fact that the first contacts s’effectuèrent colonial powers with the Wolof and made the area wolof the pole of attraction for other ethnic groups. In mid wolof, the day saw the first counters and, with them, groundnut basin or develop a flourishing trade, crowned by the installation of railway Dakar – St. Louis.

In brief remarks on the language wolof / Brèves remarques sur la langue wolof

The wolof, as many African languages, is a language classes nominal. These classes (eight in number two in the singular and plural) play a role comparable to that grammatical gender in the Indo-European languages. Each class is marked by a [index class] is by a consonant. This consonant serves as a base for training all determinants and substitutes name (defined and indefinite articles concerning, interrogative, indefinite). These determinants or substitutes therefore differ for each class, the initial consonant, désinence remaining the same.

The city of Dakar is a melting pot or just blend all ethnic groups in Senegal and even neighbouring countries: wolof it undergoes a simplification because it is talking more and more by non-native speakers for whom it is a second or a third language. Thus, in its manifold vehicular and urban, a distinction of class indices is not always respected. The class – b (most productive) tends to absorb the other. In particular, it is in this class that fit all the words and borrowing new words needed presenter asked whether a learner is likely to hear in the streets. We opted ultimately for some sort of compromise, which reflects fairly well through the use wolophones native urbanized. The class indices are complied except for the numeral benn (one), serving also indefinite article, which tends to be used alone, regardless of class.

The identification in space and in particular the opposition near / distant plays a very important role in language. Where a great variability of adverbs of place. The notion of near / distant also in nominal determination (and, as defined in article owns several forms).

The system can record divert even more francophones. The integrate personal pronouns mode and the appearance of the verb. So the pronoun that varies and not the basis of the word, which remains unchanged. In addition, there is no [time] Strictly speaking, the tracking time out from a context and situation of enunciation. The different conjugations (by varying the pronoun) are introduced gradually in the units. For an overview of the system, we see a grammatical annex at the end of volume.

J’apprends le Wolof #2

Self Test – Can You Translate These Phrases? (A, 1-10)

These are from the book Junniy Leebuy Wolof by Mànsóor Xumma.

  1. Aat yaa ngi woy géwél yi.
  2. Ab jatang, loo bàcc bàcc mu xasawum saw.
  3. Ab loot, tàbbi na ba tàyyi bàyyi fa rew bu nyor.
  4. Ab sàmm a waral béy deewul.
  5. Ab ndóol, ku mu yàqal nyakk nga.
  6. Ag bóli, mbedd la; waaye kenn du ca wetal i béy.
  7. Alal du faj dee, gàcce lay faj.
  8. Alali golo, ca lex ba.
  9. Alali jàmbur, ba fa la sant.
  10. Alali jàmbur, ku ca banya kasara, leneen nga ca begg.

P.S. – I don’t have the answers for these…You’ll have to figure them out for yourself!

Keep it on the D.L.

Apparently in Senegalese culture they tend to keep some things secret such as trips and births until just before the time. I am told it is to “protect” the thing which is about to happen and at least for trips it is also so that people will not have time to burden you with things to take with you (to deliver to friends, family, etc.)

About the ACI (Baobab Center) Language Program

Africa Consultants International is a development-oriented consulting organization working in the fields of communication and training, primarily in Africa. Among its many activities, ACI offers courses in French, English and national languages (Wolof, Pulaar, Diola, Mandinka and Serer).

Courses range from intensive instruction (5 hours per day, five days a week) to less arduous schedules. Classes are organized based on requests, and class schedules are designed to respond to the specific professional needs of the students. From 1 to 6 students with comparable language levels can form a class. A limit of 6 students per class allows ACI instructors to provide greater individual attention and speaking practice for each participant.

Classes take place at ACI’s Baobab Training and Resource Center, a comfortable, homey setting conducive to serious study and friendly contact and communication. Emphasis is placed on oral-aural skills (speaking and comprehension) with reading and writing used as supports. Orientation to Africa and cross-cultural information and training are routinely integrated into the language program and more detailed orientations can be organized upon request.

The ACI Wolof Course is a one hundred hour introduction to the language for beginners. The course is divided into four 25 hour sessions.

Contact ACI:

Africa Consultants International
Baobab Training and Resource Center
509 SICAP Baobabs
B.P. 5270, Dakar
Telephone: 25.36.37
Fax: 24.07.41

Some Pulaar Words 2

Fula Jalon Girl

aan you
kufne hat
tefde calm

Some Pulaar Words 1

When Arriving at the DKR International Airport

After arriving in Senegal, as you make your way out of the airport you will need to have your passport and yellow fever certificate ready to show to the security officials. After you have collected your luggage and made your way past the security officials and outside to the front of the airport you will find yourself surrounded by people asking if you would like to exchange money, get a taxi, help carrying luggage, a tour guide, etc. It is best that you politely refuse all these offers and walk confidently to one of the many taxis waiting at the curb. Under no circumstance let anybody grab your luggage even if they seem to be doing so just to help out, they will expect that you pay them for their service and under the rare circumstance may even steal your luggage. Also a lot of these people work together so if you let someone carry your luggage chances are he will take your baggage directly to his guy’s taxi and “negotiate” the fare on “your behalf”.

Text excerpt from the upcoming Janga Wolof produced Senegalese Phrasebook & Information Guide. Publish date TBA.

J’apprends le Wolof #2

This post is the second in my weekly series of translating the book “J’apprends le Wolof” by Jean-Léopold Diouf & Marina Yaguello (published by Karthala) from French into English. For the original post click ICI. Following are the pages leading up to the introduction.

I’m learning wolof

© Editions Karthala, 1991
ISBN : 2-86537-287-1

Jean-Leopold Diouf and Marina Yaguello

I’m Learning Wolof

Damay Jàng Wolof (I’m Learning Wolof)

22-24, boulevard Arago
75013 Paris


Les mots et les femmes, Payot, 1978. (Words and women, Payot, 1978.)
Alice au pays du langage, Le Seuil, 1981. (Alice in language, Le Seuil, 1981.)
Les Fous du langage, Le Seuil, 1981. (Les Fous language, Le Seuil, 1981.)
Catalogue des idées reçues sur la langue, Le Seuil, 1988. (Catalogue of ideas about language, Le Seuil, 1988.)
Le sexe des mots, Belfond, 1989. (The words sex, Belfond, 1989.)
Histoire des lettres, Le Seuil, 1990. (History letters, Le Seuil, 1990.)
T’ar ta gueule à la récré !, Le Seuil, 1991. (T’ar your mouth to the playground!, Le Seuil, 1991.)
Grammaire exploratoire de l’anglais, Hachette, 1991. (Grammar exploratory English, Hachette, 1991.)
En écoutant parler la langue, Le Seuil, 1991. (Listening to speak the language, Le Seuil, 1991.)


We wish to thank all those who contributed to the achievement of this method of learning wolof. We are indebted in particular the Ministry of Cooperation french who kindly to finance the achievement.

Our thanks also go to Mr Jean-Charles Trorobas, an engineer with the language laboratory of the Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences at the University of Dakar, for its technical collaboration, Ms. Martha Coly Diédhiou of Computing Center at the University of Dakar who served before the first manuscript, and the director of CLAD for his willingness unreservedly.