Amen [alternative to "amiina"]

Does anyone know how to say “amen” in Bambara/Manding? Would it be something like:

A ka kɛ o ye!
So be it!

I’m fully aware of ‘amiina’ however, it is a loanword from Arabic.


Hi Christy!

First of all, yes, it’s true that amiina originally comes from Arabic. But I wouldn’t necessarily say that the word isn’t Bambara/Manding just because it can be traced back to that language.

Pinning down what words are authentically part of a language is a slippery slope. If you step back far enough, you can argue that almost any word is loanword from another existing or dead language. “Amen”, for instance, is arguably “not English” since it is originally Hebrew.

All of that to say that I would generally tell someone that “amen” is said amiina in Bambara/Manding because that’s what one generally hears people say.

But if I was looking for an alternative, I might use the following which one sometimes hears and reads in N’ko circles:

  • Ala ka à kɛ ten
    ‘May God make it thus’

In Sulemaana Kantè’s French-N’ko dictionary he also lists another option which I say seen once or twice in texts:

  • Nbàrin

The first option, of course, is transparent to anyone who speaks Bambara. The second one, I am not sure.

Hey Coleman! :raising_hand_woman:t5::blush:

Thanks for responding! First let me make it clear that my question is not one concerning religion. Pointing that out because you brought focus on ‘amen’ being Hebrew… Which I get but when people read this I don’t want them to get the wrong idea about why I posted the question.

I posted because while I was studying some vocabulary I came across a sentence structure that had three Arabic loanwords in it. Usually when I come across a loanword, even the French ones, I look at the synonyms and ask a native about those as replacement options if they’re not also loanwords.

For instance, a few years back when I understood that ‘pɔn’ was a loanword from French I asked about the Bambara word for bridge and was told ‘babili’. So I do this in any case when I understand it’s a loanword.

Same with the time… do you know how many natives I come across that can tell me the time in French but not in Bambara? And when I say “Nɛgɛ kanɲɛ…” how many times I’ve heard that I’m speaking Bambara yɛrɛyɛrɛ?

Just to say that it’s a common effort of mine. And because I couldn’t find any other options concerning ‘benediction’ or ‘amiina’ in the dictionary I was forced to ask about it elsewhere. So that’s what led me here.

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I ni sɔgɔma, Christy!

That’s helpful context for better understanding your question! Truth be told, I do something similar – I am always on the lookout for various synonyms, especially when I suspect or know that a particular word come from French originally. And in general, I am always curious to learn of alternatives/synonyms, whether they have different etymologies or not! Which I did here so i ni ce! :slight_smile:

Nse! I ni tile, Coleman! :blush:

Except for the loanword ‘Ala’. I mean, I get why one uses ‘Ala’ but it’s still, all in all, a loanword from Arabic. And out of all of the names listed for God in the Bamadaba dictionary (“Dieu” français) ‘Ala’ is the only loanword.

And just to also make this known, I asked how to say “amen” in Bambara a few years back and “A ka kɛ o ye” was the response I got to what is to say/mean: “So be it” Then today, just a little bit ago, an elder was asked about it and she agreed that “A ka kɛ o ye” can be said in place of ‘amiina’ as Bambara vs. just settling for the Arabic loanword ‘amiina’.

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