A language of Sierra Leone

Alternate Names
Boumpe, Hulo, Kossa, Kosso
Mende, Mɛnde‎ (Mende), Mɛnde yia‎ (Mende yia)

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


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

Language Maps
Language Status

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


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].

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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