|Region||central southern Mali and neighboring areas|
2.8 million (1995)|
Spoken to varying degrees by 80% of the population of Mali
Bambara is a language from Mali. More than 6 000 000 people (including second language users) speak it. It is called Bamanankan in Bambara. Bambara is very similar to Dioula. Dioula is not spoken by as many people, but it is used in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, and Gambia. The Bambara language is spoken mainly by people in the Bambara racial group. About 2,700,000 people are in this group, but Bambara is also used by other racial groups in Mali.
Bambara is in the Manding language family. These languages are similar to each other. This family of languages is in a larger language group. This group is called the Mandé group. It is an SOV language (Subject-Object-Verb) and it has two tones (pitches).
There are seven vowels: a, e, ɛ, i, o, ɔ and u.
Writing started during the period of French rule. There is not much written work, but there is a lot of oral literature, which is often stories about kings and heroes. The people who tell these stories are called Griot. They also sing religious songs. Many of their songs are very old and some people think the songs are as old as the old Mali Empire.