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Wolof 101: Basic Phrases

Wolof is the local language spoken in much of Senegal, and particularly in Dakar. I remember before I came to Dakar, I spent some time trying to learn Wolof from YouTube videos. This didn't really work out as planned, but I have learned some great phrases since being here that have helped a lot! I've found that learning a few phrases in Wolof really opens up your world in Senegal. People appreciate your taking the time to learn their language, and it's a great conversation starter!

Something important to keep in mind is that exchanging greetings is very important in Senegalese culture. Greetings in Senegal go beyond the Western "Hi, How are you?" Many people will greet each other with several follow up questions, asking about your health, family, wellbeing and state of peace. Saying hello to your neighbors, security guards, and even strangers you pass is the norm and you can expect to make some friends by surprising Senegalese with your Wolof !

Note: The spelling is not correct on this list. This is a list I have put together to help myself, mostly on my iPhone Notes App, so I've recorded what I hear phonetically. Also, many phrases in Wolof do not translate directly to what you might expect their meaning to be. For example, the common answer to "How are you" is "Mangi Fi" which directly translates to "I am here" even though it's used to mean "I am well." In these examples, I've written their implied meaning as I understood it.


Asalaam aleykum: Hello

W alaykum asalam: Hello (in response)

Nanga def: How are you?

Mangi fi: I am fine

Yangi nos: are you good? 

Mangi nos: I am good

Naka mooh: what's up

Naka suba si: how is the morning

Suba sangi ni rek: the morning is good

Naka ngorn si: how is the evening

Naka journee bi: how is the day 

Naka wa keur gi: how is the home

Nanga yendou: how is the day

Naka tangay bi: how is the heat

Naka liggey bi: how is work

No to do: whats your name

Nicole la tod: Nicole is my name

Basic Conversation

Inshallah: hopefully

Al hamdullilah: Thank god

Fo juggey: where are you from

Etas uni la juggey: I’m from the US

Damay diangue wolof: I am learning wolof

Degeu na wolof: I speak wolof

Touti rek: a little bit

Tutti tutti: a little, or slowly

Kai ani: come eat lunch

Kai rare: come eat dinner

Sama kharit: you are my friend

Foy dem: where are you going

Mangi Dem : I'm going

Mangi Dem lek: I'm going to eat 

Mangi Dem ani: I'm going to eat lunch

Mangi Dem ged: I'm going to the beach

Mangi Dem Dowi: I'm going running

Mangi Dem nyibbi: I'm going home

Mangi Dem li gay: I'm going to work

Man American la: I am American 

Fan ga dekk: Where do you live

Almadies laa dekk: I live in Almadies 

Etas uni la juggey: I come from the US

Dama sonne: I am tired

Dama mar: I am thirsty 

Dama xiif: I am hungry

Dama tang: I am hot

Dama sedd: i am cold

Ama guma khaliss: I don't have money

Sama kass bokk: give me tea 

Beug nga nane ataya: do you like attaya

Beug na ataya: i like attaya 

Useful for Bargaining/Taxis

Daffa cher: it's expensive

Ba-khna: it's good (price) 

Am nga wechit dix mille: do you have change for 10 thousand 

Ay bulma sonal wai: stop tiring me (used like "give me a break!")

Duma watche bess: I’m not a beginner! (aka don't try to gip me!)

Saying Goodbye

Nou fanan ak jam: have a good night 

Yendu ak jam: have a good day

Ba benen yon: see you next time

Ba suba: see you tomorrow 

Leggey Leggey: see you soon (the same day) 

Ba chee kha nam: see you later

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