Category Archives: Phrases/Dialogs

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

English
Wolof / Français
pro·nun·ci·a·tion
[Pulaar / Mandinka]

 

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

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

Please.
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.]

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

No.
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.]

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

Continue reading Basic Wolof Phrases

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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 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)

Alhumdulilah.
Praise God. (said to thank God)

Bismilah.
In God’s name. (said before meals)

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

Mash’Allah.
What God wishes. (indicates a good omen)

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?

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; Firicat.com

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.
   Dégguma.

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

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: Omniglot.com, David P. Gamble dictionary, Firicat.com

 

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

 

Greetings:

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.

 

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 www.xe.com 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.

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

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

Alhamdulilay.

Thank God.
(from Arabic)

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.

Introduction

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!

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)

Editions KARTHALA
22-24, boulevard Arago
75013 Paris

WORKS OF MARINA YAGUELLO

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.)

THANKS

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.

J’apprends le Wolof / I’m Learning Wolof

I am in the process of translating the Wolof lesson book “J’apprends le Wolof” by Jean-Léopold Diouf & Marina Yaguello (published by Karthala) from French into English. I will try to post a page here every week. I am leaving for Senegal in a few weeks so I don’t know how often I will be able to post while I am gone. I will start here with the cover. Note: I am not a French speaker so many of my translations may not be perfect, however I am using the many materials I have at my disposal to make the best translations possible.

FROM THE BACK COVER: The wolof is a language spoken mainly in Senegal and Gambia, but also in Mauritania. This is one of the six languages used officially in Senegal for communication in the media and education.

About 40% of Senegalese speak wolof as their mother language and 40% use wolof as a lingua franca. Hence the importance for anyone who wants to know Senegal, whether resident, cooperating, businessman or tourist, to learn wolof.

The book may also be useful for teachers in national languages, which will find many exercises drafted on the basis of official spelling.

This method allows learning to acquire alone or with a guide a variety of wolof which reflects fairly well through the use wolophones native urbanized.

Jean-Leopold Diouf holds a Ph. D. in African linguistics. He is a researcher at the Center of Applied Linguistics of Dakar and professor of wolof at the Alliance Francaise.

Marina Yaguello is an aggregate Doctor of Letters and lecturer at the University of Paris VII. She has taught linguistics at the University of Dakar and is the author of numerous books.

men and societies

Cover: Photo Vivant Univers “Living Universe”

General Greetings / Salutations Général (Dialog)

Omar: Salaamaaleekum. Peace be upon you.
Moodu: Maaleekum salaam. Peace return to you.
Omar: Jaama ngaam? Do you have peace?
Moodu: Jaama rek. Peace only. (I’m fine.)
Omar: Naka nga def? How are you?
Moodu: Maangi fi rek. I am here only. (I’m fine.)
Omar: Sa yaram jaama? Is your body in peace? (How is your health?)
Moodu: Jaama rek. Peace only.
Omar: Ana waa ker gi? Where are the people of the house? (How is your family?)
Moodu: Nunga fa. They are there. (They’re fine.)
Omar: Mbaa defunu dara. I hope nothing is wrong with them.
Moodu: Deedeet, defunu dara. No, nothing is wrong with them.
Omar: Naka ligeey bi? How is the work? (How is work?)
Moodu: Maangi si kowam ndanka, ndanka. I am on it slowly, slowly. (I’m taking it easy.)

French – Getting Around

A quelle heure part … ? – What time does the … leave?

le bateau – the boat

le bus – the bus

le bac – ferry

l’avion – the plane

le train – the train

le tramway – the tram

Le … bus passe a quelle heure? – What time’s the … bus?

premier – first

dernier – last

prochain – next

Combien d’arrers jusqu’a … ? – How many stops to … ?

Est-ce que cette place est occupee? – Is this seat taken?

C’est ma place. – That’s my seat.

Pouvez-vous me dire quand nous arrivons a … ? – Can you tell me when we get to … ?

Je veux descendre … – I want to get off …

a …  – at …

ici – here

Ay Baatu Waxtaan

More time & directions…

Phrases To Practice / Phrases à la pratique

Ban waxtu moo jot?What time is it?

Minwi jotna.It is midnight.

Fukki waxtu ak ñaar jotna.It is noon.

Naka laa fay demee?How do I get there?

Ci wetu jumaa ji.Next to the mosque.

Toppal yoon wi.Follow this road.

Xam nga fan la?Do you know where it is?

Kan ngay ñew?When are we arriving?

Time & Directions

Midi Jotna.It is noon.

Netti waxtu ci ngoon jotna.It is three in the afternoon.

Jubelal ci biir dekk ba.Keep going straight through the town.

Ci ñaari waxtu la nuy egg.We are arriving at two o’clock.

Da ngay tallal ci kanam. Straight ahead.

Naari waxtu ci suba jotna.It is two in the morning.

Kan ngay dem?When are we going?

Ci kanamu jumaa ji.Across from the mosque.

Fukki waxtu teg na ñeent fukki i simili ak juroóm.It is ten forty five.

Religious Terms 2

Words & phrases with religious significance starting with the letter B.

Many of these terms may actually be Arabic or Wolofized Arabic. Many Wolof speakers practice Islam which uses the Arabic language.

baakaar, bakaarsin, evil
baawaanreligious ceremony to pray for rain
Baay Faal a type of Mourit (Mouride) follower, characterized by long hair (dreadlocks), etc.
barakablessing
baraka Alla, barak’Allah fikwith God’s blessing, may the blessings of Allah be upon you (used to thank someone)
barkeblessing
barkeelto benefit from a blessing
bataaaxal, bataxelletter, circular letter (generally prophesying the future)
bayerea charm for happiness; to be popular
biddaabelief, superstition
billaay, billaxiby God
bisimilaay, bisimilayi, bisimilaahiin the name of God
bismillah ar rahman ar rahimin Allah’s name most gracious most merciful
bootalman in charge of newly circumcised boys
boroom daarahead of a religious school
bu soobee Yallaif it pleases God

See Religious Terms 1.

Religious Terms

Words & phrases with religious significance starting with the letter A. 

Many of these terms may actually be Arabic or Wolofized Arabic. Many Wolof speakers practice Islam which uses the Arabic language.

ajaratutitle given to a woman who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca
aji Makkato go to Mecca
aj githe pilgrimage
Ajititle given to a woman who has made the pilgrimage
ajjana, aljana, arjanaheaven, paradise
allaaji, alxaajititle of a man who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca
allaaxirathe next world
alla-akubaar, allahu-akbarGod is great
alxamdulillaapraise be to God
alxuraanthe Koran
amiinamen
astafurlaamay God forgive, God help us. (an exclamation of astonishment)
atte Yalla lait is the judgement of God, it is fate

Wolof mots de vocabulaire

Wolof vocabulary words

bennen, benen – another
bennen u xarit am – another of his friends

doonte – if it were
doonte man … – if it were me …

garab g (garap) – tree; medicine
ci kow garab gi – up the tree

jappa – to seize, catch ; to suit
jappa biir – to become pregnant

lu – whatever
lu dul – unless

munga, munge, mungi – he is …
munga fa – he is over there (remote)

ñeppa – all
ñun ñeppa xam nañu – we all know them

raxas – to wash (clothes, utensils, etc.)
mu raxas leket bi be mu set – she washed the calabash until it was clean

suma – my
suma xaalis ak sa xaalis – my money and your money

tollo – to measure height
tollo ak … – to be the same size as …

waññi – to lower a price, reduce
waññi ko waay – please lower it

yobbu – to carry, to take away
soo demee, yobbaale ma – when you go, take me with you

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!


Arabic/Islamic Phrases

Assalamu alaykum.Peace be upon you.
Wa alaikumus salam.And peace be upon you. (reply to above)
Allahu akbar.Allah is greater. (takbir)
Al hamdu lilah wa shukru lillah.Praise belongs to Allah and all thanks to Allah.
Bismillah ar rahman ar rahim.In Allah’s name, most gracious, most merciful.
Insh’Allah.If Allah wills. (referring to a future action)
Mash’Allah.What Allah wishes. (indicates good omen)

You got the time?

What time is it? Ban waxtoo jot?
Et maintenant en français; Quelle heure est-il?

Do you have a watch? Am nga montar?
Et en français;
Avez-vous une montre?

   Yes, I have a watch. Waaw am naa montar.
Et maintenant en français; Oui, j’ai une montre.

   No, I don’t have a watch. Amuma montar.
Et en français; Non, je n’ai pas de montre.