A language of Mali

Alternate Names
Bamanakan, Bambara

14,000,000 in Mali, all users. L1 users: 4,000,000 in Mali (2012 V. Vydrin), increasing. 75,000 Ganadugu (Vanderaa 1991), 164,000 Wasulu (2009 census). L2 users: 10,000,000 (2012 V. Vydrine). Total users in all countries: 14,102,320 (as L1: 4,102,320; as L2: 10,000,000).


Widespread. Kayes, Koulikoro, and Ségou regions; Sikasso: north, middle Niger river watershed.

Language Status

4 (Educational). Recognized language (1982, Decree No. 159 of 19 July, Article 1).


Standard Bambara, Somono (Kombye), Segou, San, Beledugu, Ganadugu, Sikasso, Wasulunkakan (Maninkakan, Eastern, Wassulu, Wassulunka, Wassulunke, Wasulu, Wasuu). Many local dialects. The main division is standard Bambara, influenced heavily by Eastern Maninkakan [emk], and rural dialects. Bamanankan dialects are spoken in varying degrees by 80% of the Mali population. In Mali, Wasulunkakan is shared by both Bamanankan and Eastern Maninkakan, but in Guinea it is only a dialect of Eastern Maninkakan.


SOV; postpositions; passives; tense; causatives; 21 consonant and 14 vowel phonemes; tonal (2 tones: high, low).

Language Use

Growing. All domains. Used by all. Positive attitudes. Used as L2 by Bankagooma [bxw], Bunoge Dogon [dgb], Duungooma [dux], Jenaama Bozo [bze], Jowulu [jow], Kagoro [xkg], Kelengaxo Bozo [bzx], Konabéré [bbo], Koyra Chiini Songhay [khq], Koyraboro Senni Songhay [ses], Maasina Fulfulde [ffm], Malian Sign Language [bog], Mamara Sénoufo [myk], Soninke [snk], Supyire Sénoufo [spp], Syenara Sénoufo [shz], Tieyaxo Bozo [boz].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 15%. Taught in primary schools. Literature. Newspapers. Radio. TV. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1961–1987.


Latin script [Latn]. N’Ko script [Nkoo], used in Mali.

Other Comments

Wasulu are former Fulbe. Muslim, traditional religion.

Also spoken in:

Expand All
Collapse All
Page Views Left: