Greetings are very important in the Wolof culture and can be quite lengthy. For those reasons and to make their study a little less cumbersome, we will spread them throughout the first two chapters.
A key to a successful language learning experience, is the ability of the student to accept and learn the target language structures as they are. DO NOT TRY TO TRANSLATE EVERYTHING INTO ENGLISH AND FRENCH. Languages around the world use different concepts to express ideas. For example:
I have a headache.
|my||head||emphasis marker||to hurt|
There will be grammar explanation furnished (In Section III) and you may always refer to them. In this section pay close attention to the following points:
|Asalaa-maalekum||Greetings!||From Arabic this expression translates into English 'I greet you all.'|
|Maalekum-salaam||Greetings!||This is the response to the above.|
This form of salutation is usually the first in the sequence of greetings. It is used when you are approaching a group of people, and is used as a means of announcing oneself upon entering a home. This greeting is a direct borrowing from Arabic and should be considered as the standard beginning of the greeting procedure.
How are you (doing)?
Note that Naka ngë def? is almost all the time rendered as Nanga def? This form of greeting is rather casual and should only be used with peers, friends, and people you know very well.
Naka ngë fanaane? How did you spend the night?
Naka ngë yéndóó? How did you spend the day?
The answer to these expressions is Mangi fi rekk. But notice the use of Maa-ngi sant. in rural areas.
How 's everybody at the house?
Ñunga fë. (They are there) > They are fine.
This form of greeting shows the importance of inquiring about relatives and town or village friends. Inquiring about as many members as you can will be a nice way of showing consideration and closeness to your interlocutor. This is particularly true in rural areas and if that is your destined post or area of interest, take the time to memorize some or all of the following expressions:
sa baay your father
sa ndey, sa yaay your mother
boroom kër husband
kilifë head of household
maam grandparents or blood relatives of grandparents' generation
waa dëkk bë people of the village/town
pronounced : Jàmm ngaam?
|Peace||you||have?||Do you have peace?|
|Peace||only,||thanks to God||Peace only, thanks be to God.|
The expression mbaa² which can be roughly translated into English be 'I hope' is often put at the beginning of questions yielding:
Mbaa² jàmm ngë am?
Notice the importance of the use of the word jàmm = peace as in the leave taking expression Jàmm ag jàmm.
1 In the answer Jàmm rekk, the expression la am is implied. This structure will be discussed in more detail in Chapter III.
² With mbaa one expects a positive answer.
|This||what||is?||What is this?|
|This||book||is.||This is a book.|
|This (human)||who||is?||Who is this?|
|This||Bill||is.||This is Bill.|
|This (human)||what||is?||What is he/she?|
|This||American||is.||He/She is American.|
These cycles are designed to allow you to be able to use them to acquire vocabulary. They are particularly useful when your language informant does not speak your language. Use them outside of class to learn new vocabulary or learn the right pronunciation of words.
PRACTICAL COURSE IN WOLOF
by Pape Amadou Gaye