Bambara 101

Since the seventies Bambara has mostly been written in the Latin alphabet, using some additional phonetic characters. The vowels are a, e, ɛ (formerly è ), i, o, ɔ (formerly ò ), u ; accents can be used to indicate tonality. The former digraph ny is now written ɲ or ñ (Senegal). The ambiguous digraph "ng" represented both the[ŋɡ] sound of English "fi ng er" and the[ŋ] of "si ng er". The 1966 Bamako spelling conventions render the latter sound as "ŋ".

The N'Ko alphabet is a script devised by Solomana Kante in 1949 as a writing system for the Mande languages of West Africa; N’Ko means 'I say' in all Mande languages. Kante created N’Ko in response to what he felt were beliefs that Africans were a "cultureless people" since prior to this time there had been no indigenous African writing system for his language. N'ko came first into use in Kankan, Guinea as a Maninka alphabet and disseminated from there into other Mande-speaking parts of West Africa. The script is still in use for Bambara, although the Latin alphabet is much more common.