Bambara, or Bamanankan is a language in West Africa, mostly in Mali, where it is mother tongue of the Bambara people (30% of the population), and where 80% of the population can communicate in the language. Bambara will also be useful in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, and Gambia. Together with Dioulé and Malinké it belongs to the Mandekan dialect family, which itself part of the Mande group, which is a Niger-Congo language subgroup.
The language is heavily influenced by
French, and even the slightest knowledge of French will make it easier to remember words. If you don't remember a word you can try to use the French word.
[ edit] Pronunciation guide
[ edit] Vowels
a like 'a' in "father"
e like 'e' in "prey"
ε like 'e' in "met"
i like 'i' in "police"
o like 'o' in "so"
ɔ like 'ough' in "bought"
u like 'u' in "clue"
There are also long vowels:
and nasal vowels:
[ edit] Consonants
j like 'j' in "jay"
ɲ like 'ny' in "canyon"
ŋ like 'nw'
c like 'ch' in "chair"
g like 'g' in "get"
h like 'h' in "hard"
s like 'ss' in "pass" or 'sh' in "shake" (varies by region)
[ edit] Blends
sh like 'sh' in "shore"
[ edit] Phrase list
[ edit] Basics
Hello (any time of day) i ni ce
How are you? (Are you well?) ( to one person) i ka kεnε wa?
How are you? (Are you well?) ( to more than one person) Aw ka kεnε (wa)?
Fine, thank you. kεnε, tɔɔrɔ te, ko tε, tana tε
What is your first name? i tɔgɔ?
What is your last name? i jamu?
My name is ______ . ne tɔgɔ ___
Thank you. i ni ce
You're welcome. basi tε (literally 'no problem')
Excuse me. ( getting attention / begging pardon) (aw ye) hakε to!
I'm sorry. a yafa n ma
Goodbye k'an bεn
Goodbye ( informal) n taara
I can't speak name of language [well]. N te se "name of language" kan na kosεbε. eg. N te se angilekan na kosεbε
I don't speak Bambara very well, but I understand a little Ne tε se bamanankan na kosεbε, nka ne b'a men dɔɔnin dɔɔnin.
Do you speak English? i bε angilekan men wa?
Is there someone here who speaks English? Mogo do min bε angilekan men be yan, wa?
Help! N deme!
Look out! I farati!
Good morning. aw ni sɔgɔma (several persons around), i ni sɔgɔma (1 person)
Good afternoon aw ni tile, i ni tile
Good evening. aw ni wula, i ni wula
Good night. aw ni su, i ni su
Good night ( to sleep) ka su hεεrε
I don't understand. n m'a faamu
Where is the toilet? ɲεgεn bε min?
[ edit] Problems
Leave me alone. N bila sa!
Don't touch me! I kana magan n na!
I'll call the police. N bε polisiw wele.
Stop! Thief! A yi zon (or son) minE)
I need your help. N mago bε i ka deme na.
It's an emergency. koo teliman do.
I'm lost. N tununen don.
I lost my bag. N ka saki tununa.
I lost my wallet. N ka wari tununa.
I'm sick. Bana bε na.
I've been injured. N joki na
I need a doctor. N mago bε dogotoro la.
Can I use your phone? N bε se ka weleli kε ni i ka telephone ye wa?
[ edit] Numbers
11 tan ni kelen
12 tan ni fla
13 tan ni saba
14 tan ni naani
15 tan ni duurun
16 tan ni wooro
17 tan ni wolonfla
18 tan ni segi
19 tan ni kononto
21 mugan ni kelen
22 mugan ni fla
23 mugan ni saaba
30 bi saba
40 bi naani
50 bi duurun
60 bi wooro
70 bi wolonfla
80 bi segi
90 bi kononto
200 keme fla
300 keme saba
1000 wa (baa) kelen
2000 wa fla
3451 wa saba ani keme naani ani biduru ani kelen
1,000,000 million kelen
1,000,000,000 milliard kelen
number _____ ( train, bus, etc.)
a lot caman
a few do / doonin
right this instant sisan sisan
[ edit] Clock time
one o'clock AM une heure waati or nεgε kan ɲε kelen
two o'clock AM deux heure waati or
noon midi waati
one o'clock PM treize heure waati
two o'clock PM quatorze heure waati
midnight minuit waati
[ edit] Prayer times
sunrise fajiri waati
approx 2 pm selifana waati
approx 4 pm lansara waati
sunset fitiri waati
nightfall safo waati
[ edit] Duration
_____ minute(s) minuti _____
_____ hour(s) heuri _____
_____ day(s) don _____
_____ week(s) dɔgɔkun _____
_____ month(s) kalo _____
_____ year(s) san _____
the day before yesterday kuna sini
the day after tomorrow sinin kene
this week dogukun nin na
last week dogukun temena
next week dogukun nata / wεrε
[ edit] Months
January Zanwuyé (kalo)
February Feburuyé (kalo)
March Marsi (kalo)
April Awirili (kalo)
June Zuwen (kalo)
July Zuluyé (kalo)
August Uti (kalo)
September Sεtamburu (kalo)
October Oktɔburu (kalo)
November Nɔwanburu (kalo)
December Desanburu (kalo)
[ edit] Writing time and date
The month is always stated first in a date, then the day of the month. For example, January 25, 2008 would be "
janvier kalo tile mugan ni duru san baa fila ni segi". A literal translation would be "January month day twenty-five year two thousand and eight." When written with digits, the French tradition of day, month, year is generally followed.
[ edit] Colors
[ edit] Transportation
[ edit] Bus and train
How much is a ticket to _____? Ka taa ____ ye joli ye?
One ticket to _____, please. Billetti kelen ka taa ____.
Where does this train/bus go? Mobili / train nin bε taa min?
Where is the train/bus to _____? Mobili / train min bε taa _____ bε sɔrɔ min?
Does this train/bus stop in _____? Mobili /train nin bε jo _____ wa?
When does the train/bus for _____ leave? Mobili / train min bε taa _____ waati jumen?
When will this train/bus arrive in _____? Mobili / train nin bε se _____ waati jumen?
[ edit] Directions
How do I get to _____ ? ____ bε sɔrɔ fan jumεn fε?
...the train station? gare de train
...the bus station? autogare
...the airport? aeroport
...the youth hostel? siyɔrɔ / hotel
...the _____ hotel? siyɔrɔ / hotel
...the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate? Ameriki / Canadien / Australien / Anglezi ambassade / jamanasigiyoro
Where are there a lot of... _____ caman bε sɔrɔ min?
...sites to see?
Can you show me on the map? I bε se ka jira n na carti la wa?
Turn left. kaa fara numanbolo fε
Turn right. kaa fara kinibolo fε
left numanbolo (nose hand)
right kinibolo (rice hand)
straight ahead ɲε fε
towards the _____ _____ fan fε
past the _____ _____ kɔ fε
before the _____ _____ ɲε
Watch for the _____. _____ ɲini
north saheli / kokodugu fε (sahel / salt land way)
south worodugu fε (kola land way)
east seli fε (prayer way)
west tilebin fε (sunset way)
uphill san fε
downhill duguma fε
Take me to _____, please. N b'a fe ka taa _____ (la).
How much does it cost to get to _____? Ka taa _____ (la) ye joli ye?
Take me there, please. An ka taa yen.
[ edit] Lodging
Do you have any rooms available? Siyɔrɔ bε wa?
How much is a room for one person/two people? Siyɔrɔ kelenta / filata ye joli ye?
Does the room come with... _____ bε sɔrɔ siyɔrɔ la wa?
...a bathroom? ...tualet / nyegen?
...a telephone? ...telephone?
...a TV? ...television?
May I see the room first? N bε se ka Siyɔrɔ laje folo wa?
Do you have anything quieter? Siyɔrɔ do bε sɔrɔ min ...hεrε ka ca nin ye wa?
...bigger? ...ka bon nin ye wa?
...cleaner? ...ka sani nin ye wa?
...cheaper? ...da ka nogon nin ye wa?
OK, I'll take it. A ka nyi, n b'a ta.
I will stay for _____ night(s). N bε na su ____ kε yan.
Can you suggest another hotel? Hotel were bε sɔrɔ? I bε se ka n bila o sira la?
Do you have a safe? Coffru bε wa?
Is breakfast/supper included? Daraka / surofana b'a la wa?
What time is breakfast/supper? Daraka / surofana bε dun waati jumen?
Please clean my room. N ka siyoro furan.
Can you wake me at _____? I bε se kan n lawuli _____ heuri la wa?
I want to check out. N b'a fe ka wari sara ka taa.
Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian/British currency? N bε se k'a sara ni Ameriki / Australien / Canadien / Anglezi wari ye wa?
Do you accept credit cards? N bε se ka sara ni carti ye wa?
Can you change money for me? I bε se ka wari falen n ye wa?
Where can I get money changed? Wari bε falen min?
Can you change a traveler's check for me? I bε se ka sheki falen wa?
Where can I get a traveler's check changed? Sheki nin bε falen min?
What is the exchange rate? A falen ye joli ye?
How much for one _____? _____ kelen kelen ye joli ye?
Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)? Machine d'argent / warimachine bε sɔrɔ? min?
[ edit] Eating
A table for one person/two people, please.
Can I look at the menu, please? N bε se ka menu laje wa, sa?
Can I look in the kitchen? N bε se ka gwa laje wa?
Is there a house specialty?
Is there a local specialty?
I'm a vegetarian. n te sogo dun
I don't eat pork. n te lesogo dun
I don't eat beef. n te misisogo dun
Can you make it "lite", please? ( less oil/butter/lard) aw kana tulu caman k'a la [don't put a lot of oil on it]
à la carte
lunch tilela fana, tilerɔ
tea ( meal)
supper sula fana, surɔfana
I want _____. ne bε _____ fε
I want a dish containing _____. N bε dumuni min fe, ____ b'o la.
salad, lettuce saladi
(fresh) vegetable nako fen (garden things)
(fresh) fruit yiri den (tree children)
bread buru, nbuuru
noodles macaroni (yes, just like english, but applies to nearly all pasta)
rice malo (uncooked), kini (cooked)
orange lemru-ba, lenburuba
lemon, lime lenburu
plantain baranda, loko
May I have a glass of _____?
May I have a cup of _____?
May I have a bottle of _____? ... galama ...
coffee kafe, kafe-ji
tea ( drink) te
_____ juice ____ ji
May I have some _____? ne bε se ka ____ soro wa?
Excuse me, waiter? ( getting attention of server) terike!
I'm finished. n fara (I'm full)
It was delicious. a djarra, aw ni gwa
Please clear the plates. aw ka assiettiw ta.
The check, please. aw ka na ni addition ye.
Do you serve alcohol? eska dolo bε wa?
Is there table service? Is there table service?
A beer/two beers, please. castel bilibili ba, castel bilibiliba fila, sil vous plais.
A glass of red/white wine, please. A glass of red/white wine, please.
A pint, please. A pint, please.
A bottle, please. A bottle, please.
_____ ( hard liquor) and _____ ( mixer), please. _____ and _____, please.
club soda club soda
tonic water tonic water
orange juice orange juice
Coke ( soda) Coke
Do you have any bar snacks? Do you have any bar snacks?
One more, please. One more, please.
Another round, please. Another round, please.
When is closing time? When is closing time?
[ edit] Shopping
Do you have this in my size? Do you have this in my size?
How much is this? Nin ye joli ye?
That's too expensive. abadika, O ka cha. Do bo a la [cheaper please]
Would you take _____? Would you take _____?
expensive ka gelen (literally - too hard)
cheap ma gelen (literally - not hard)
I can't afford it. wardi tε n'bolo. (literally - the money is not in my hand)
I don't want it. N t'a fε. [note: once you have made an offer you are obligated to purchase]
You're cheating me. Namara ka cha.
I'm not interested. N ma se a ma.
OK, I'll take it. Awo, n ba taa. or Awo, n bε fε k'a san. (literally - I want to buy it)
Can I have a bag? mahnah bε wa? (literally - do you have plastic)
Do you ship (overseas)? Do you ship (overseas)?
I need... N'mago be ______ la
...toothpaste. ...pahtay de dent. (French)
...a toothbrush. ...brassay de dent (French)
...pain reliever. ( e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen) ...Kungaloo fura Keesay. (literally head-seed)or Kungaloo fura
...cold medicine. ...moora fooroo.
...stomach medicine. ...kono baara fooroo.
...a razor. ...lamu. (French)
...an umbrella. ...para pluie. (French)
...sunblock lotion. ...sunblock lotion.
...a postcard. ...a postcard.
...postage stamps. ...tambaru. (French)
...writing paper. ...papieri ka seben.
...a pen. ...biki.
...English-language books. ...anglakan livuru.
...English-language magazines. ...English-language magazines.
...an English-language newspaper. ...an English-language newspaper.
...an English-English dictionary. ...anglikan dickshow.
[ edit] Driving
I want to rent a car. N be feka mobili cinga
Can I get insurance? Can I get insurance?
stop ( on a street sign) a to
one way sira kelen
no parking jo yoro te yan
speed limit teliya hake
gas ( petrol) station gas station
[ edit] Authority
I haven't done anything wrong. N ma foi ke
It was a misunderstanding. An ma nyogon famu
Where are you taking me? Aw be n taa fo min?
Am I under arrest? Aw bena n mina wa?
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen. Ne be bo Ameriki/Australi/Angaleter/Canada
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate. I need to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate.
I want to talk to a lawyer. I want to talk to a lawyer.
Can I just pay a fine now? Can I just pay a fine now?
[ edit] Learning more
This is a
phrasebook. It explains pronunciation and the bare essentials of travel communication. An adventurous person could use it to get by, but please usable plunge forward and help it grow!