Structure dataset 34: Casamancese Creole

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 34.

Casamancese Creole is the mother tongue of about 10,000 people living in or around the Senegalese city of Ziguinchor (Basse-Casamance, Southern Senegal). It is also spoken with various degrees of proficiency by several tens of thousands of second language speakers living in the same region. The language seems to be quite homogeneous. However, language variation exists and seems to be linked with several factors. First, there is a contrast between urban Casamancese (spoken in Ziguinchor), more exposed to the influence of Wolof, French and Guinea-Bissau Kriyol vs. rural Casamancese, generally more conservative and also more influenced by several local adstrates (mostly Ñun, Joola, and Mandinka). Second, there are differences between native and non-native varieties of Casamancese Creole. In the Casamancese-speaking sections of Ziguinchor and in some neighbouring villages (e.g. Sindone), Casamancese is spoken by many people as a first language whereas in other villages (e.g. Djifanghor), Casamancese is used on a daily basis but as a second language alongside with a native language (e.g. a local variety of Ñun in Djifanghor). As regards Djifanghor (and this surely applies to other bilingual communities), the Casamancese spoken by Ñun-speakers, although being very similar to native Casamancese, displays some idiosyncratic developments, e.g. it allows analogical synthetic causatives for mas ‘more’ > masintí ‘surpass, have a bigger share than’ or bas ‘underneath’ > basintí ‘surpass, be better than’, which are refused by native Casamancese speakers. Third, together with urban vs. rural and first vs. second language, there also exists diatopic variation (e.g. the word for ‘cloud’ is nuybu in some villages and nirbu/nírbu/nibu in other places). Unless otherwise specified, the default lect illustrated in APiCS is the variety of Casamancese Creole spoken in the village of Sindone (some 30 km East of Ziguinchor). This rural variety is the native lect of Noël Bernard Biagui, who co-authored this contribution and it is today the main vernacular (and also the first vehicular) language in Sindone.


« cet article a été réalisé grâce au soutien de l’ANR dans le cadre du projet Sénélangues Projet ANR-09-BLAN-0326 »

"this contribution was realised thanks to the support of the ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche) within the scope of the project Sénélangues (Projet ANR-09-BLAN-0326)"

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No. Feature Value Details Source
No. Feature Value Details Source


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p mp b mb t ⁿt d ⁿd c ɲc ɟ ɲɟ k ŋk g ŋg
Sibilant affricate
Non-sibilant affricate
Sibilant fricative s z ʃ
Non-sibilant fricative f v
Approximant l j
Flap or tap ɾ
Lateral affricate
Lateral fricative
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel ehigher mid front unrounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel ɛlower mid front unrounded vowel ɔlower mid back rounded vowel ɐnear-open central vowel alow central unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments
 w  voiced labial-velar glide


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value Details Source