Non-translated and Loan Words

Localized term vs. English term

The preferred language in the computer world is English. Therefore, a translator frequently has to decide whether to use the (correct, but obsolete) translation or simply the English word.


The examples below show how English loanwords inflect for number in.

English example Bambara examples
Websites siti wɛbu
Proxys proxiw

Singular & Plural

In Bambara, when the letter w is placed at the end of a word, it marks the plural of the word and is pronounced ou.

English Bambara, singular Bambara, plural Signification
Tool minɛn minɛnw Minein’ou
name tɔgɔ tɔgɔw Togo’ou

Verbs and Verb Forms

The auxiliary to be and to have often translate the same word in Bambara language . The negative form of the auxiliary is the word .

In Bambara, the word ye can also be translated translation of auxiliary be and have.

Auxiliary have also often results in Bambara with the word MA in negative phrases. These various cases cited above should be taken into account by the translator.

The use of French loans in the translation

Considering that the Bambara language is relatively weak in the field of new technology, and seeing as Mali is a Francophone country and that most of the new words in technology are adapted from French (and some uneducated people learning these terms will learn what’s spoken commonly every day, i.e. French), the use of French loanwoards is an acceptable thing. If the word has no meaning in Bambara, or if a Bambara neologism would mean a complicated translation that will not be understood by the majority of the people, French loan words should be used.


English French Bambara
Internet Internet Ɛntɛrinɛti
computer ordinateur ɔridinatɛri

Note: There are words which have several types of translation Bambara and in this case, the translator will select the translation most commonly used by the population.


English French Bambara
calendar calendrier kalandiriye / donjati
telephone téléphone telefɔni / nɛgɛjuru

Respect of Bambara orthography The French words that end with tion or xion take siyon at the end should be adapted as follows.


English French Bambara
connection connexion konɛkisiyon
geolocation géolocalisation jewolokalijasiyon

The French words that end with ier take iyɛ at the end should be adapted as follows.


English French Bambara
keypad clavier kilaviyɛ
integer entier anciyɛ

Note: In Bambara, words that contain a <š> are better replaced it with s unless it forms a minimal pair. In this case we will use sh.

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