Learn more about Mande languages
The Mande languages are spoken in several countries in West Africa by the Mandé people and include Mandinka, Soninke, Bambara, Dioula, Kagoro, Bozo, Mende, Susu, Yacouba, Vai, and Ligbi. The population includes millions of speakers, chiefly in The Gambia, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Senegal. This linguistic group is a divergent branch of the Niger-Congo family.
The group was first recognized in 1854 by S. W. Koelle in his Polyglotta Africana. He mentioned 13 languages under the heading North-Western High-Sudan Family, or Mandéga Family of Languages. In 1901 Maurice Delafosse made a distinction of two groups in his Essai de manuel pratique de la langue mandé ou mandingue. He speaks of a northern group mandé-tan and a southern group mandé-fu. This distinction was basically done only because the languages in the north use the expression tan for ten whereas the southern group use fu. In 1924 L. Tauxier noted that this distinction is not well founded and there is at least a third subgroup he called mandé-bu. It is not until 1950 when A. Prost supports this view and gives further details. In 1958 Welmers published an article The Mande Languages where he divided the languages into three subgroups - North-West, South and East. His conclusion was based on lexicostatistic research. Greenberg followed this distinction in his The Languages of Africa (1963). Long (1971) and G. Galtier (1980) follow the distinction into three groups but with notable differences.
The N'Ko alphabet is a script for Mande languages developed by Souleymane Kante, which is mostly used in Guinea.
 See also
- Delafosse, Maurice (1901) Essai de manuel pratique de la langue mandé ou mandingue. Paris : Leroux. 304 p.
- Delafosse, Maurice (1904) Vocabulaires comparatifs de plus de soixante langues ou dialectes parlés à la Côte d'Ivoire et dans les régions limitrophes, avec des notes linguistiques et ethnologiques. Paris : Leroux. 285 p.
- Nazam HALAOUI, Kalilou TERA, Monique TRABI (1983) Atlas des langues mandé-sud de Côte d'Ivoire. Abidjan : ACCT-ILA.
- Welmers, William E.(1971) Niger-Congo, Mande . In Linguistics in Sub-Saharan Africa (Current Trends in Linguistics,7), Thomas A. Sebeok, Jade Berry, Joseph H. Greenberg et al. (eds.), 113–140. The Hague: Mouton.