Kuranko Language vs Manding vs Susu

The Kuranko are an ethnic group inhabiting Sierra Leone and Guinea, they are related to the Mandingo tribe and are a Mande people, It is said that their language is Mutually intelligible with both susu and Manding, how true is this? Can a Manding speaker understand Kuranko? Thank you any information would be much appreciated.

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Hello!

I don’t specifically know much about the “Kuranko” variety. That said, this Wikipedia page says that it is a Manding variety that is similar to Eastern Maninka (the dominant variety of Manding spoken in Guinea, which is often simply referred to as “Maninka” or “Malinké”).

Based on this information, I would that it’s unlikely that it’s mutually intelligible with Susu. Susu is part of the broader Mande family of which Manding is but one part, but it’s not possible to understand for speakers of Manding varieties (i.e., Bambara, Jula, Maninka or Mandinka, etc) unless they grew up around it and/or have learned it.

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Hello Coleman, great to hear from you!

I did highly doubt the likelihood that kuranko is mutually intelligible with both susu and Manding as they are both highly divergent languages and even with the presence of many loanwords this still wouldn’t facilitate a mutual intelligibility with susu if it is truly a manding language. To my knowledge susu is related/derived from Soninke which diverged from Manding a very long time ago so for Kuranko to be mutually intelligible with both seemed extremely unlikely.

I ni ce!

One thing:

It’s not quite accurate to say that Soninke diverged from Manding. Similarly, I wouldn’t say that Susu derived from Soninke. They are all modern-day spoken languages that occupy different branches within the broader “Mande” language family. When they diverged from the same branch varies, but it goes back quite a while.

You might find this article helpful for your research:

  • Vydrin, Valentin. 2009. “On the Problem of the Proto-Mande Homeland.” Вопросы Языкового Родства–Journal of Language Relationship 1: 107–42.

It includes a tree with rough estimates of when various languages and protolanguages within it may have diverged in terms of years.