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African Language Resources

Dictionaries, Glossaries and Lexicons

The Kamusi Project | The Internet Living Swahili Dictionary
The Internet Living Swahili Dictionary is a collaborative work by people all over the world. Together we are working to establish new dictionaries of the Swahili language. Kiswahili is the most widely spoken African language, with 50 million speakers in East Africa and Central Africa, particularly in Tanzania (including Zanzibar) and Kenya. In addition to Tanzania and Kenya, many people speak Swahili as a first or second language in Uganda, Somalia, Mozambique, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, and Congo (formerly Zaire). This site will do the search for you, simply enter the word in either English or Swahili and it will transliterate if possible. An alternate version is also available from Freedict and another from Babylon.

Useful Swahili and The Kenya Travel Guide
Two sites featuring basic Swahili lessons in conversational English-Swahili. featuring lists of essential Swahili words translated into English. These pages are only part of larger sites about the African countries of Kenya and Masi-Mara.
Comparative Bantu OnLine Dictionary
Online African Dictionary from UC Berkeley's Linguistics department site translates 100+ languages.
Also available are many downloadable glossaries.
Göteborg University's Department of Oriental and African languages
This Swedish university has many ongoing research projects including ALRI - African Languages Research Institute formerly The African Languages Lexicon Project (ALLEX) a joint research project between the Universities of Zimbabwe, Oslo and Gothenburg, with an aim to produce monolingual corpus-based dictionaries for Zimbabwean languages I.E. Shona (currently in print) and Sindebele (to be published in 2K).
Also under study are:
Iká is an Igboid language spoken in southern Nigeria. It thus belongs to that widespread language family commonly known as Niger-Congo (Niger-Kordofanian).
Mpiemo, classified as A86c in Malcolm Guthrie's classification, is a hitherto undescribed Bantu language spoken by a minority group with the same name, the largest part of whom live in the rainforests of western Central African Republic.
Kinyarwanda (Kinyarwanda-Swedish Dictionary is available for download) is Africa's largest Bantu mother tongue, spoken by approximately 9.3 million people. It is a national language in Rwanda.
An additional resource: Kinyarwanda-English Online Dictionary is being developed by another group of individuals.
LOGOS Dictionary
This Italian site permits you to search a very comprehensive and growing database of several languages.

Web-based Multilingual Dictionary from Majstro
Translate English and many other languages to the South African language of Afrikaans, Swahili, Zulu or vice versa. They offer an AFR/ENG and ENG/AFR simple interface and for the power user an advanced pair of interfaces AFR/ENG & ENG/AFR.

Source language Target language
English to Afrikaans to English Dictionary from Freedict
Yet another alternate is available from Travlang, for English to Afrikaans and Afrikaans to English. (They also apparently mirror Majstro who offers this as a service to webmasters.)
Dictionary dot com
Online English Dictionary, thesaurus and reference guide. Includes word games, online translator and Word of the Day. Similar offerings with links to many language dictionaries, also available from and Alpha Dictionary.

 Search:   for    
Rasta/Patois Dictionary.
Yes I, a Rasta-speak for the Bredren and Sistren.
African Language Sites
The African languages covered by this site are those which are taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison including: Arabic, Hausa, Kongo, Shona ( Introductory Shona Language or Shona Language, Culture and Society ), Swahili, Yoruba, and Zulu.
Multilingual Translation/Dictionary/Spelling Checker Software Digest Inc., Multilingual (commercial) Software (including some African tongues).
Your Dictionary dot com
" " formerly The Web of On-line Dictionaries , has the web's most authoritative collection with over 800 references, and deals with 180 languages several of which are African.
Babelfish dot org
"," has a most comprehensive collection of links to translation and online transliteration services.

"An encyclopedic reference work cataloging all of the world’s 6,912 known living languages."
Language Links from Rick Schellen (Massive)
Other Lang's
Languages from Nigeria
Mambila from Nigeria and Cameroon.
Tarok from Nigeria
Basa language as spoken near the Niger-Benue confluence in Nigeria.
Gbari as spoken in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria
Bura , a Chadic language spoken in NE Nigeria
Eggon a Benue-Congo language spoken in Central Nigeria

The Mande Languages

The Mande languages are mainly spoken in Mali, though stretching into the neighbouring West African countries. Greenberg classified the Mande languages as being a part of the Niger-Congo language family.

BAMBARA (Burkina Faso)
BAMBARA (Côte d'Ivoire)
BAMBARA (Gambia)
BAMBARA (Senegal)

The Bambara, are Mali's dominant group, as indicated by the name of that country's capital, Bamako. Bambaras occupy most of Mali's governmental positions and Bambara is the lingua-franche of Mali. Traditionally, the Bambara are farmers in the Niger River Valley. The Bambara language is closely related to Dioula (spoken widely in Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina-Faso) as well as Juxanke and Malinké of Guinea. The Bambara are the source of the chiwara, antelope-like masks which are widely known and traded.

The Bambara of Mali belongs to group of dialects or closely related languages that are collectively called ‘Manding’. Manding Dialects are found across most of western Africa, and Bambara (Manding) is one of the officially declared languages of Mali. A large part of the population uses Bambara as its mother tongue, and as secondary language it is employed to communicate nationwide.

BANDI ( Guinea )
BANDI ( Liberia )

BANKA (Mali)
BENG (Côte d'Ivoire)
BISSA (Côte d'Ivoire)
BISSA (Burkina Faso)
BISSA (Ghana)
BISSA (Togo)
BLÉ (Burkina Faso)
BOKO (Benin)
BOKO (Nigeria)
BOKOBARU (Nigeria)
BOLON (Burkina Faso)
BOSO, TIÉYAXO (Burkina Faso)
BUSA-BISÃ (Nigeria)
DAN (Côte d'Ivoire)
DAN (Guinea)
DAN (Liberia)
DZÙÙNGOO (Burkina Faso)
GAGU (Côte d'Ivoire)
GURO (Côte d'Ivoire)
JAHANKA (Gambia)
JAHANKA (Guinea)
JAHANKA (Guinea Bissau)
JAHANKA (Senegal)
JOLA-FOGNY (Senegal)
JULA (Burkina Faso)
JULA (Côte d'Ivoire)
KALANKE (Gambia)
KASSONKE (Senegal)
KONO (Sierra Leone)
KURANKO (Guinea)
KURANKO (Sierra Leone)
JULA (Mali)
LELE (Guinea)
LIGBI (Côte d'Ivoire)
LIGBI (Ghana)

LOKO (Sierra Leone)

LOMA (Liberia)
MALINKE (Guinea)
MALINKE (Senegal)

Malinké are the most populous ethnic group in Guinea, and spread into Senegal, Mali and Cote d'Ivoire. Their languange is closely related to Bambara. The Malinké Empire of the fourteeth century was a great period of Islamic learning in West Africa - a period which was noted by the historic growth of city of Timbouktou.

MANDINGO (Man·din·go n., pl. Man·din·gos or Man·din·goes)
1. A member of any of various peoples inhabiting a large area of the upper Niger River valley of western Africa.
2. A group of closely related Mande languages including Bambara, Malinke, and Maninka, widely spoken in western Africa. In this sense, also called Mandekan. [American Heritage Dictionary]

MANDINKA (Guinea Bissau)
MANDINKA (Senegal)

MANDINKA (MANDINGUE, MANDINGO, MANDINQUE, MANDING) [MNK] 350,000 in Gambia (1993 UBS) or 40.4% of the population; 445,500 in Senegal (1991); 119,500 in Guinea Bissau (1993); 914,500 in all countries. Central Gambia. Niger-Congo, Mande, Western, Northwestern, Northern, Greater Mandekan, Mandekan, Manding. Significantly different from Maninka of Guinea and Malinke of Senegal (Church). 79% lexical similarity with Kalanke, 75% with Jahanka, 70% with Kassonke, 59% with Malinke, 53% with Mori, 48% with Bambara. The main language of middle Gambia. About half the speakers are reported to be literate in Mandinka in Arabic script, but not Roman. Some related varieties may be distinct languages. Muslim. NT 1989. Bible portions 1837-1966.

MANINKA (Guinea)
MANINKA (Liberia)
MANINKA (Sierra Leone)

MANINKA belongs to the Mandebranch of the Niger-Congo family, spoken by 3,5 million people (over 6 million in all countries) and is used as lingua franca in West Africa. There are several varieties called with different names (Mandinka and Dioula, for instance). Maninka of Guinea is the same as that of Liberia; Bambara of Mali and Mandinka of Gambia and Senegal do not differ greatly. The Nko script is popular, created in 1948 by Sulemana Kante.

MANO (Guinea)
MANO (Liberia)
MAOU (Côte d'Ivoire)
MANYA (Liberia)
MARKA (Burkina Faso)

MENDE (Liberia)
MENDE (Sierra Leone)

MORI (Gambia)
MWAN (Côte d'Ivoire)
NOMAANDE (Cameroon)
SAMO (Burkina Faso)
SEEKU (Burkina Faso)
SIAMOU (Burkina Faso)
SHANGA (Nigeria)
SONINKE (Burkina Faso)
SONINKE (Côte d'Ivoire)
SONINKE (Gambia)
SONINKE (Guinea Bissau)
SONINKE (Mauritania)
SONINKE (Senegal)
SUSU (Guinea)
SUSU (Guinea Bissau)
SUSU (Sierra Leone)
TOMA (Guinea)
TOURA (Côte d'Ivoire)
TYENGA (Nigeria)
VAI (Liberia)
VAI (Sierra Leone)
YALUNKA (Guinea)
YALUNKA (Senegal)
YALUNKA (Sierra Leone)
YAOURÉ (Côte d'Ivoire)
WAN (Côte d'Ivoire)

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Copyright (c) 1998-2011  R. Clark - .
Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this publication ( and all children) provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.


This page linked to Discover Gambia as per their request, and we at SignaPhiNothing are honored to be of service to them. has rewarded my humble efforts on this page with their "3clix Seal of Excellence Award" (28 DEC 2K4). In their evaluation they write: "This is an independent site linking to good resources for most African language groups. Some of the links are purely academic, some are interactive such as the online Swahili dictionary which could be useful for travelers."

Babylon Translation Software


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