Ethnologue: Areas: Africa

Mauritania

2,329,000 (1995). Islamic Republic of Mauritania. République Islamique de Mauritanie. Literacy rate 17% to 28%; 6.7% (1977 C. M. Brann). Also including Bambara, Korean, 60,000 Tuareg (Tamasheq), and people from Togo. Information mainly from Welmers 1971. There are many tribes, castes, or clans of whom little is known. Data accuracy estimate: B, C. Muslim. The number of languages listed for Mauritania is 8.

ARABIC, HASSANIYA (MAURE, MAURI, MOOR, SULAKA, HASANYA, HASSANI, HASSANIYYA) [MEY] 1,800,000 in Mauritania, 66% of the population (1991); 150,000 in Algeria (1995); 40,000 in Morocco (1995); 5,000 in Senegal (1993); 106,100 in Mali (1991); 127,400 in Niger (1991); 2,230,000 in all countries. Throughout the country. Also in Morocco. Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, South, Arabic. Not intelligible with other Arabic varieties. Speakers are called 'Maures' ('Moors'). Black Maure are called 'Haratine'. Pastoralists, traders. Muslim. Survey needed.

FRENCH [FRN] 72,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Romance. National language. Bible 1530-1986. NT 1474-1980. Bible portions 1483-1987.

FULFULDE, PULAAR (PEUL) [FUC] 150,000 in Mauritania; 214,000 in Gambia (1995); 1,946,000 in Senegal (1995); 175,000 in Mali (1995); 24,000 in Guinea (1991); 180,000 in Guinea Bissau (1991); 1,675,000 in all countries. Also in Burkina Faso, Nigeria. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Atlantic, Northern, Senegambian, Fula-Wolof, Fulani, Western. Dialect: TOUCOULEUR (TUKULOR, TUKULOR, PULAAR, HAALPULAAR). Fuuta Tooro (Fouta Toro) was a major Toucouleur geo-political state, which has its seat in northern Senegal and is also in Mauritania. Muslim. Bible portions 1982-1993. Work in progress.

IMERAGUEN (IMRAGUEN) [IME] 120 (1967 Gerteiny). Near Nouakchott, the region stretching from Cape Timiris to Nouadhibou. Unclassified. The language is reported to be a variety of Hassaniyya structured on an Azer (Soninke) base. Vassals to important Hassan tribes, especially the Oulad Bou Sba. Reported to be remnants of the Bafours. They use nets for fishing. Coastal. Fishermen, hunters. Survey needed.

NEMADI (NIMADI, NAMADI, NOMADI, IKOKU) [NED] 200 in all countries (1967 Gerteiny). El Djouf Desert, regions of Oualata, Agrejit (Akreijif), near Kiffa-Tichitt (Tichit) and Aguelt Namadi, at the wells along the edge of the Mréyyé, the heart of the Mauritanian Empty Quarter. Also in Mali. Unclassified. There is conflicting information about their language, skin color, and other factors. Nomadic. No camels or agriculture. They depend on their dogs for success in hunting. They live in symbiosis with black, settled Africans. Many claim to be Moors. Reported to speak their own language, "probably a mixture of Azer, Zenaga (Berber), and Hassaniyya, called Ikoku by the Moors" (Gerteiny). Monogamous. Desert. Hunter-gatherers, trade skins and dried meat for supplies. Reported to be non-Muslim or nominal Muslim. Survey needed.

SONINKE (MARKA, SARAKOLE, SARAWULE, TOUBAKAI, WAKORE, GADYAGA, SERAHULI, ASWANIK, SILABE) [SNN] 30,000 in Mauritania; 700,000 in Mali (1991); 150,000 in Senegal (1993); 51,000 in Gambia (1991); 90,000 in Burkina Faso (1991); 100,000 in Côte d'Ivoire (1991); 5,000 in Guinea Bissau (1993); 1,126,000 or more in all countries. Chamama region. Also in Guinea and possibly in Niger. Niger-Congo, Mande, Western, Soninke-Bozo. Dialect: AZER (ADJER, ASER). Muslim. Work in progress.

WOLOF (OUOLOF, YALLOF, WALAF, VOLOF) [WOL] 10,000 in Mauritania (1993 Johnstone); 2,700,000 in all countries. Also in Senegal, France. Possibly in Mali. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Atlantic, Northern, Senegambian, Fula-Wolof, Wolof. Dialects: BAOL, CAYOR, DYOLOF (DJOLOF, JOLOF), LEBOU, NDYANGER. Different from Wolof of Gambia. Language of wider communication. Muslim. NT 1988. Bible portions 1873-1982.

ZENAGA [ZEN] 25,000 (1993 Johnstone). Between Mederdra and the Atlantic coast, southern Mauritania. Afro-Asiatic, Berber, Zenaga. People are Arabicized bedouins, reported to travel mainly in caravans. Racially they are both white and black; the latter are descendants of slaves captured centuries ago. The language is related to other Berber languages in basic structure though specific features are quite different. One of the major Berber varieties. Pastoralists. Muslim. Survey needed.


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Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
Copyright © 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc. All rights reserved.

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