Does anyone know the word for “flamingo” in any of the Manding languages?


I have never seen or heard of people talking about flamingos in Manding-speaking West Africa.

I looked up where one might find the bird in West Africa and it appears that there is, in fact, some rare variety of the bird, the “lesser flamingo” (Phoeniconaias minor), but it appears to only potentially exist along the coastline, which is not a historically Manding-speaking area really.

Here’s the map (from Vicpeters, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons):

As such, there might not be a historically rooted name. Perhaps there is a borrowing from another West African language that is used. Or perhaps there is a descriptive name (e.g., “kɔnɔwulen” or “kɔnɔbilen”; lit. ‘red bird’) that is created by people when they need a term. Or maybe they borrow the French flamant (rouge).

I will let you know if I am able to dig more into it! :slight_smile: But maybe someone else like @Kamaradeni has some idea? Or maybe @Christy can show a picture and ask friends in Mali if they know of a name?

I ni ce e jaabi ye! (Thank you for your response!)

Sorry if my syntax is off.
I thought it might be a long shot.
I’m working on a calligram design using words for “flamingo” and as always wanted to include as many languages (and scripts) as I can.
The map I found on Wikipedia for distribution of all flamingoes seemed to go a bit farther inland in West Africa, but I can understand if they are not actually seen enough across that whole area for there to be a native word for it.
Thanks again for your response!

Hɛɛrɛ, Martin

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I asked on TikTok with a picture and got lots of responses in the comments.

Most of them are some variant of the following (or I think – it’s hard to follow people’s ad hoc spelling):

  • Baninkɔnɔ = which is a kind of stork (Ciconia abdimii)
  • Sakunu = which is a kind of heron (Ardea goliath)
  • Kɔnɔsogonin = which is a kind of ostrich (Struthio camelus)

I think the prevalence of these responses which are actually other birds points to the rarety of the bird or the fact that it’s not a relevant bird in Manding-speaking West Africa. It’s also worth noting that people often took issue with these names in comment replies (e.g., “That’s not right”).

There are some other forms that come up a few times though. I don’t have any information or leads for them at this time:

  • Names using the word ja : kɔnɔ kaja, ja, Kunaja, Kɔnɔnin seja
  • Kalakala or kakilakaa

Then there are others that seem to be one off in the comments:

  • sakulaka [specifically listed as Gambian Mandinka]
  • solenkɔnɔ [specifically flagged as Maninkakan]

And finally in the N’ko Kanjamadi dictionary, I found this listed specifically under ‘flamingo’ (but no one brought it up or suggested it):

  • Kɔnɔconkan

Thank you so much for all this research!
I think I will probably use the N’ko Kanjamadi dictionary and convert it to N’ko as I like using different script when possible.
I’ve found references from other sources the lists kɔnɔ as a common word for ‘bird’ and conkan as a word for ‘red ground nuts’, which looks like an interesting way of describing flamingos.

Aw ni ce tuguni!

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