A family of language
s in West Africa
, spread from Guinea to Nigeria. The main national languages in the Mande family are the Manding (Mandingo
) languages Bambara
; and Soninke
in Mali, Vai
in Liberia and Guinea, and Mende
in Sierra Leone
The Vai language developed a native script in the nineteenth century, one of the few for sub-Sahel African languages.
Westermann had called the family Mandingo in 1927. Mande was used by Joseph Greenberg as the name of one of the six branches of the Niger-Congo superbranch of the Niger-Kordofanian phylum. But the (over-precise) Ethnologue database, which distinguishes 58 Mande languages, elevates it to a primary subdivision of the phylum, alongside Kordofanian. This reflects more recent study suggesting it broke off early from the main Niger-Congo line, as did Kordofanian. Evidence is the fact that the Mande branch has completely lost noun class marking.
Typology: SOV, prepositions or postpositions, GN, NA.