Mande Languages

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mande Languages


languages related to the Congo-Kordofanian language group of the Niger-Congolese branch. The Mande languages are divided into two groups: Mande-tan (northern), and Mande-fu (southern). Mande-tan includes the Mandingo languages, Soninke, Kasonke, Aser, Konyanke, Koranko, and Vai. The Mande-fu languages include Kpelle, Mende, Toma, Shanga, and Busy. The Mande languages are spoken by 5.3 million people in Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Upper Volta, and the Ivory Coast.

Distinctive phonetic features of the Mande languages include the labiovelars kp and gb and the velar fricative x (Mande-fu). Tones are used to distinguish meaning; for example, pu “to put,” “England,” “cave,” and “ten” (Mende). Most stems are disyllabic. Words are formed with the use of suffixes.


Rowlands, E. C. A Grammar of Gambian Mandinka. London, 1959.
Innes, G. A Mende Grammar. London, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Their topics include tono-genesis and tonal alternations in Khaling, tonal inflection in Mande languages: the cases of Bamana and Dan-Gweetaa, tone and inflection in Zenzontepec Chatino, tonal overwriting and inflectional exponence in Amuzgo, abstract and concrete tonal classes in Itunyoso Triqui person morphology, and verbal inflection in Yolox chitl Mixtec.
The criteria distinguishing core NPs from oblique NPs are language-specific, and some criteria that are particularly useful is some languages or language families quite obviously do not lend themselves to any generalization (for example, the distinction found in Mande languages between core NPs obligatorily preceding the verb and oblique NPs obligatorily following the verb), but the following cross-linguistic tendencies can be observed:
arguments adjuncts core syntactic terms obliques For example, as mentioned above, Mande languages have a particularly clear-cut distinction between syntactic core terms and obliques.
Mande Languages and Linguistics: proceedings (reprint, 2008)
International Conference on Mande Languages and Linguistics (2nd: 2008: St.