Wolof

I realized my neglect in explaining one of the integral parts of my stay in Sénégal, so here you go.  Thank you (or “jërëjëf” to use the Wolof term) Karen for pointing it out to me in an e-mail!!  I’m basically going to cut and paste my response, or maybe I’ll get fancy and “copier/coller” it…

Wolof is the dominant tribe of people in Sénégal.  The majority of people here are of Wolof descent, but there a bunch of other tribes as well.  (The Seerer, the Peuls, the Toucouleurs, etc…)  People here speak Wolof 90% of the time.  Many of the non-educated people don’t speak any French, which can be obnoxious if it’s your taxi driver. There are a few people who don’t speak Wolof, but that is rare.

Wolof sounds more like Spanish than French, but the primary sounds are different.  Also it is a spoken language, and the translation to a written form is quite recent. There is a generation of children now who are learning Wolof in the schools as well as French.  Perhaps they will switch over to Wolof as the official language of Sénégal??  It might as well be as things are now.

Wolof has been fairly easy for me to pick up, although there is one set of verbs that I think particularly describes one of the main forseeable problems.

Toog – To sit

Togg – To cook

Tox – To smoke

Pronounce those for me…

They are actually different.  I can here and pronounce the difference quite easily, but everyone speaks with a different accent.  When you are actually in conversation with someone it is not always as easy to determine what they are trying to say as when you are sitting down and learning it.

Not to-in any way-suggest that I am advanced enough to hold conversations in Wolof.  I’m pretty good at the greetings, and if I know a vocab word I can throw it out pretty readily.  I can even piece together some bad sentences if I really try, but if a Sénégalese person starts spouting out Wolof I get lost pretty quickly.  With that said, I understood my mother’s breakfast directions this morning!! (Bring the stool.  Sit.  Take the bread.  It’s too hot.  Etc…)

Apart from that, happy November everyone!!  November is one of my favorite months-particularly in Ann Arbor-and I miss it a lot.  This is my third November outside of Ann Arbor, and I must say that it’s also the record high for temperature overall.  I wonder why that could be.  ;D

I’m sure that there is still apple cider out there, and donuts, and changing leaves, and farmland backroads to be driven through, meaning that it’s all of your responsibility to take advantage of that for me.  In my turn, I promise to sunburn.

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