Mixing all 3 languages (Bambara, Dioula and Mandinka)

Hi…I’,m malian, guinea, and Ivorian. I speak bambara, dioula, and mandinka… At some times i just mix them all and it kind of sounds rocky… When i speak t my extended family they seem confused.

Is this normal to mix all the languages into one ?? What are your thoughts on this?

Best, Kadija (malienden)


Hi Kadija! Welcome to the Forum and thanks for posting.

Given that Bambara, Jula and Mandinka are all varieties of Manding that vary between 100% to pretty mutually intelligible, I don’t think that it is weird at all that your speech would potential include elements from each.

I’m not a native speaker or a heritage speaker, but since I have worked/lived/studied in Burkina, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Guinea, I also have some competency in Bambara, Jula and Maninka.

I often find myself mixing different words, sayings and grammatical structures from each variety. I do this for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it just comes out. Sometimes, it’s a stylistic choice.

Reactions vary. Some people that have traveled and/or come from families that are spread across the varieties (like you, it sounds), recognize the differences and just roll with it. Others with less exposure sometimes tell me, “You can’t say it like that.” Sometimes they are right because I made a mistake. Sometimes though, it’s just that the particular turn of phrase isn’t used where they are from, even if it’s perfectly acceptable elsewhere in the Manding-speaking world.

This isn’t so different from what I find with the English either. American English, British English, Nigerian English, etc — it’s all English and when people spend time between them, they end up mixing them as they like, need or want for their communicative goals :slight_smile:

Hope that hearing about my experience helps a bit!

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Thank you so much!