A language of Sierra Leone

Alternate Names
Boumpe, Hulo, “Kossa” (pej.), “Kosso” (pej.)
Mɛnde, Mɛnde yia

1,940,000 in Sierra Leone (2016). Total users in all countries: 1,976,000.


Eastern province: Kailahun, Kenema, and Pujehun districts; Northern province: Bombali and Moyamba districts’ border areas; along the coast and south and east; Southern province: most of interior.

Language Maps
Language Status

2 (Provincial). Statutory provincial working language in Eastern and Northern provinces; also in Southern province interior (2004, Local Government Act, Article 16(1)).


Kpa, Ko, Waanjama, Sewawa. Lexical similarity: 92%–98% among dialects.


SOV; postpositions; definite article suffix; 24 consonant and 7 vowel phonemes; tonal (2 tones: high, low); word-initial consonant mutation.

Language Use

Also use Krio [kri]. Used as L2 by Bom-Kim [bmf], Northern Kissi [kqs], Vai [vai].

Language Development

Taught as an elective from primary to college levels. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1959.


Latin script [Latn]. Mende Kikakui script [Mend], limited usage except for correspondence and record keeping, especially accounting.

Other Comments

Traditional religion, Christian, Muslim.

Also spoken in:

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