“Sabali” in N’Ko

Ive been searching the internet on how to write Sabali in N’Ko. I found the youtube channel that ultimately led me here. Any help would be appreciated.


Hi, loffir! Thanks for posting in the Forum.

The exact form depends on the context (e.g., is sabali being used as verb or a noun). This is because N’ko orthography requires marking tone and tone plays a role in grammar and parts of speech in Manding.

Let’s assume that you want to write it as a noun in citation form. In this case, you would typically see the following:



Note that I have used curly brackets ({}) to transliterate the N’ko script one-to-one. I have also ignored tone. The lack of a written a between the first s and b is related to an orthographic convention of N’ko known as the “gbarali” rule.

All that aside, you can see that the typical written form equivalent to sabali (in Latin-based Bambara orthography) is actually equivalent to sabari (with an r).

Both forms, sabali and sabari, are possible in Manding. The form “sabali” is more typical in Bambara. The form “sabari” is more typical in Jula and Maninka. (You can hear this, for instance, in episode 4 of Na baro kè.)

This variability between R/L is common (and sometimes non-contrastive) across Manding varieties and is often considered to be a question of what laypeople simply call “accent” (e.g., “an American accent”, “a London accent”, etc).

In any case, ߛߓߊߙߌ (sabari [ignoring tone and expanding out the vowels of the gbarali convention]) is the accepted written form on the noun in citation form in N’ko orthography.

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Wow. First of all, Thanks. For clarification, would it be spelled differently if using ‘sabali’ (would the ‘r’ be replaced with the ‘l’?); or is it that the word is spelled the same but depending on the ‘accent’ will affect how it’s pronounced?

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Written traditions and orthographies have conventions and, in my experience, in the case of Manding written in N’ko, people write it with the “r” character unless they need to do “phonetic spelling” for special purposes.

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