Survival language-learning: check

Salaam alikum. That’s Wolof for ‘hello,’ literally meaning “peace be with you.” Now you respond. Malikum salaam (‘with you be peace’). Back to me: Nangadef? (‘how are you?’) And your reponse: Mangi fi. (‘I’m fine’, literally saying “I am here.”)

Our team going to West Africa has been doing crash course learning of survival phrases in Wolof, the main trade language of the region where we’ll be. It’s been fun to try the language on with my tongue. And of course there’s extra motivation since I’ll be needing it in exactly 3 weeks from today!

Mangi tudda Kyria. (‘My name is Kyria’) Mangi dek Etas Unis. (‘I live in the United States’) Noo tudda? (‘What is your name?’)

We’re also learning some Sereer, the language that is the mother-tongue for many of the people we’ll be with.

Ngiropo. That’s Serer-Sine for ‘good evening.’ You respond with: Yare jam (‘the evening is passing in peace’). Now I say: Nam fio koy? (‘how are you?’) And back to you: Mexe mene (‘I am fine’).

Making an effort to use one of their languages rather than the official language of French can mean the difference between being viewed as a rich, uncaring tourist and being received as a potential friend.

Kyria ne em. (‘My name is Kyria’) Amerik refum. (‘I’m from America’) Nam ne ee? (‘What is your name?’)

For me, learning these languages will not be a classroom exercise or preparation for this trip only. Now it’s real. Now I’m learning languages that I’ll possibly be operating in, Lord willing, for the foreseeable future. You’ve got to start somewhere, so I’ll start with the simple greetings.

Oh and the very essential Degguma (in Wolof) and Nanim (in Serer-Sine), meaning ‘I don’t understand.’

1 comment
  1. Marc Pulfer said:

    Hi Kyria, Am I allowed to know which country you are going to? I have a good friend here from near Dakar who speaks, among other languages, Wolof. Sorry for poor sentence construction, I am in a rush!!:-)

    love you and praying for you


    Le 7 juin 2013 06:01, Kyria, liaison a crit :

    > >

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