Soninke - Soninké - Soninkanxaane

1.  Classification / Classification

Soninke belongs to the Northern Branch of Mande. (Webbook)

Ethnologue lists the classification as: Niger-Congo, Mande, Western, Northwestern, Soninke-Bobo, Soninke-Boso, Soninke

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

It is spoken from the intersection of northeast Senegal, south central Mauritania, and west/southwest Mali, to a line running east roughly along the Mali-Mauritanian border. It is also spoken in parts of the Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau. (Webbook)

A set of maps showing the areas where Soninke is spoken can ba seen at

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to Ethnologue (accessed 2007):

  • 700,000 in Mali (1991)
  • 194,150 in Senegal (2002)
  • 100,000 in Côte d'Ivoire (1991 Vanderaa)
  • 66,175 in Gambia (2002)
  • 30,000 in Mauritania
  • 6,470 in Guinea-Bissau (2002)
  • Population total all countries: 1,096,795

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

According to Ethnologue:

  • Azer (Adjer, Aser)
  • Kinbakka
  • Xenqenna
  • Gadyaga
  • (Dialects in Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, and possibly Gambia are close enough to use the same literature)

5.  Usage / Utilisation

Soninke is a national language of Senegal and of Mali. Many Soninke speakers also speak Bambara, Mandinka or Fula as an additional language, depending on the location. (Webbook and Ethnologue)

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

Soninke has an orthography standardized by Senegalese government decree in l975 (see Bibliography), but these conventions have not been accepted in other areas where Soninke is spoken. (Webbook) [need more info, including on the orthography in Mali]

In general, it is Latin-based and includes extended characters. has a page on "Harmonisation de l'orthographe Soninké"

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

According to information reported by Hartell (1993) and presented in Systèmes alphabétiques, the orthographies of Soninke in Senegal and Mali seem to be the same except for the character used for the palatal n, and inclusion of the letter q in Senegal:

A sample text is shown on the "Language Museum" site (it may or may not be current orthography in either Mali or Senegal):

7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

Unicode: most Unicode fonts with extended Latin ranges would include the necessary extended characters (for example, DejaVu, Code 2000, Doulos SIL, Gentium, Lucida Sans Unicode, Arial Unicode MS).

8-bit (these fonts may have intercompatibility problems and also cannot be used for web content):

  • Mali Standard SIL Doulos
  • Mali Standard SIL Manuscript
  • Mali Standard SIL Sophia
The Mali Standard font package from SIL along with keyboard layouts for QWERTY and AZERTY
  • RCI Std Doulos
  • RCI Std Manuscript
  • RCI Std Sophia

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

The CNRS/LLACAN "AFRO" Tavultesoft Keyman keyboard (for AZERTY) is intended to support this language:

7.3  Content on computers & internet / Contenu en informatique et sur l'Internet

HAADAMA RENMUM TAQUN DORONDEN DANTAQIYE DUNA NOXO (Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Soninké Version)

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

Not aware of any software localisation efforts.

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue

  • ISO 639-1: -
  • ISO 639-2: snk
  • ISO 639-3: snk

7.6  Other / Autre

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile

9.  Comments / Remarques

10.  References / Références

Chanard, Christian (2006), Systèmes alphabétiques des langues africaines, LLACAN, CNRS,

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, (page on "Soninke," )

Hartell, Rhonda L., ed. (1993), The Alphabets of Africa. Dakar: UNESCO and SIL. (The French edition, published the same year, is entitled Alphabets de Langues Africaines).

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Soninke,"

SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables,"

U.S. Library of Congress, "ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages: Alpha-3 codes arranged alphabetically by the English name of language,"

Wikipedia, "Soninke language,"

______, "Soninké (langue),"é_langue

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Categories: Languages, Mali, Senegal, Southern Mauritania, Gambia, Eastern Guinea Bissau