Universiteit Leiden

nl en


Sillanka: A Soninke Dialect in a Moore-Fulfulde Environment

  • Anna Marie Diagne
Tuesday 13 November 2018
This Time for Africa!
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Sillanka is one of the Mande minority languages of Burkina Faso, a country with a majority of Gur languages. It has so far been little studied and is considered by UNESCO to be in danger of extinction.

The minority character  of Sillanka - in terms of number of speakers - certainly played a role in its decline; but the upheavals due to French colonization have affected its current situation even more. The Sillanke population is linguistically divided according to a line of demarcation which follows that of the castes: The Nobles totally lost the language, while the Slaves preserved it. Listed as a separate language in the Ethnologue (http://www.ethnologue.com/language/skq), it turns out that Sillanka is a variant of Soninke. For comparative purpose, Sillanka turns out to be an interesting opportunity. It’s insulated situation opens up the possibility that ancient states of the grammar or vocabulary have not evolved as in the varieties documented for Bakel (Senegal) or Kaedi (Mauriatania). On the other hand, there may be some variation due to borrowing from surrounding languages: Moore and Fulfulde for Sillanka, Pulaar (Fulfulde) and Wolof/Arabic for the dialects of Senegal and Mauritania.

This website uses cookies.  More information.