Languages in Mali

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Mali has a collection of indigenous vernaculars aside from its national language. This is attributed to the ethnic diversity prevalent in the country. In turn, there is as much number of dialects as much as the number of Malian tribes. Ethnologue has even recorded 50 Malian spoken dialects on its list which is way more than the 13 recognized ethnic tongues. All these are precious contribution of the nation to the affluent selection of the Mande Language Family.

French is the official language of the country which has been an influence from its colonial history. Declaration of official language was even stated into the 1982 decree although only 21% of the population was able to speak the language back in 1986. As a matter of fact, it has been considered merely as a second language learned as part of the school curriculum commonly used in formal settings.

Considered as the country’s second language is Bambara spoken by almost 80% of the people. This ethnic vernacular originated from the Kingdom of Segou centuries ago. In particular, the language is widely used in central and southern regions. Being familiar to most of the locals, it has been regarded as one trade language.

Malian language is basically characterized by French as the official language along with 13 dialects that comprise Malian national languages. These include Bambara, Bomu, Hasanya Arabic, Kita Maninkakan, Koyraboro Senni Songhay, Maasina Fulfulde, Mamara Senoufo, Soninke, Syenara Senoufo, Tamasheq, Toro So Dogon, Tieyaxo Bozo, and Xaasongaxango. These native dialects are significant part of the Manding language under the Niger-Congo category.

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