The official language is French, although 80 percent of the population speaks Bambara (or Bamanakan in the language), as well as a variety of other African languages (Peulh/Fula, Dogon, and Tamashek, the Tuareg language). Outside of major cities, few people speak French, and Bambara is becoming more uncommon in certain areas. Only a few individuals are able to communicate in English.
It is important to greet individuals. You should learn how to welcome people in French or, better yet, in Bambara. Even if you just purchase fruit or bread, vendors should be treated with respect. It’s crucial to demonstrate an overall interest in the other person, so inquire about their family, job, children, and so on. “A va” (It’s all right) is the easy response. The interlocutor should not provide a negative response!
- “Bonjour. ça va?” (Good morning. Are you all right)?
- “Et votre famille?” (And your family?)
- “Et vos enfants?” (And your kids?)
- “Et votre travail?” (And your job?).