It’s often heard that the only correct way of saying “I” is n, as in “a ka di n ye”, but when living in Bamako I think “ne” was used much more. Is it dialectal or are they pretty much interchangeable? I’ve heard “ne bɛ ta” a lot but can’t remember hearing “n’bɛ ta”
Aw ni ce ni aw ni bara kosɛbɛ!
Hi Vincent! Welcome to the Forum and thanks for posting this here
“N” and “Ne” are two different forms of the first person singular pronoun (“I; me” in English).
There is nothing dialectal about them. The distinction is actually a formal one that linguists call non-emphatic (
n) and emphatic (
ne). I made a full video about this on YouTube, but in short…
This distinction exists for all the pronouns: for example,
u/olu in standard Bambara.
They are close to interchangeable, but there a few grammatical situations where the emphatic form is required. For instance, here’s one:
– Jɔn don?
– Ne don! (
– Who is it?
– It’s me!
As such, they are neither free variants nor dialectal variants.