Located in West Africa, Senegal is home to 39 languages according to the Ethnologue. English speakers who recall the book “Roots” or Sinéad O’Connor‘s songs might recognize the language Mandinka (mnk), and the language Wolof (wol) might be familiar to some as well. Otherwise, French is the only Senegalese language likely familiar to most English speakers.
Among the many offerings at the upcoming 42nd Annual Conference on African Linguistics is a poster session on Menik or Bedik (tnr). According to the abstract “Menik: an endangered language between two big languages,” the Menik people live among two other languages: the macrolanguage Peul or Fula (ful), which probably refers to Pulaar (fuc), and Malinké (noted as Mandinka above).
The abstract notes two levels of language use of the Menik people:
- That of Peul and Malinké alongside Menik
- That of French for classrooms and government
- Obliging/encouraging young speakers to use Menik in the village
- The use of Menik in sacred festivals
- The threat of expulsion from the community