Dogon is a family of about 20 languages, spoken by the Dogon people of the Mopti Region of Mali.  Languages and dialects differ widely from commune to commune, though some are mutually intelligible and others bear significant resemblances to one another.  Some languages include Donno So, Tommo So, Toro So, Dogolu Dum, Jamsay, Mombo, Tengu-Kan, and many others.  For more information on Dogon languages, visit Dogon and Bangi Me Linguistics.  We focus on Tommo So, because it is the language of Wadouba Commune, where the majority of our work takes place.  Other than greetings, the rudimentary basics of Tommo So seem to be fairly well understood by speakers of Donno So (in and around Bandiagara), and Toro So (Sangha, and the eastern escarpment villages).  It is not understood in Yarou Plateau or Kori-Maounde.

On this page, we use our own (rather uninformed) spelling for ease of understanding by the nonlinguist.  For official orthography and more vocabulary, see the Tommo So Dictionary available at the Dogon and Bangi Me Linguistics site.  Hopefully, by listening to the audio pronunciations, you'll get the idea.  Knowing even a few phrases will make you popular in Wadouba!

As in most Malian languages, greetings are very important and lengthy in Tommo So.  It is important to ask multiple questions and respond with questions to someone who has greeted you.  Different greetings are used at different times of day.

Morning Greetings

Person arriving
 Person Responding
Aga yame    Morning greetings (Let's go into the morning)

Awoh  Acknowledgement (Indeed)
U yaa?
  Are you in peace?
Yaa  In peace
Anawumbe yaa?  Is your family in peace?
U yaa?
Anawumbe yaa?

Afternoon Greetings
Person arriving

Person Responding
Denemo    Afternoon greetings (We are going into afternoon)

Awoh  Acknowledgement (Indeed)
U denawuh?
  Are you in peace?
Denawuh  In peace

Anawumbe denawuh?  Is your family in peace?
U denawuh?

Anawumbe denawuh?


Additional Greetings for any time of day, often added to those above.
U jimile?  Are you without sickness?

Jimile  Without sickness (Conjugated for first person singular)
Anawumbe djanoui?  Is your family in peace?

Djanoui  In peace
These are often used interchangeably, for example:
U jimile?

Anawumbe djanoui?

Jimine. (Conjugated for third person plural)

Greetings, Goodbyes, and Thanks for any time of day.  These can be used individually and do not have to be part of a long sequence.
Person arriving

Person Responding
U li kal li!   [I salute] You and the work (to one person) or
Eh li kal li!
  (to multiple people) You and the work or
Kalpo  I salute the work

Awoh  Acknowledgement (Indeed)

Ambou djele!  Welcome (God grant you welcome)
Awoh  Acknowledgement (Indeed)
Guine do  Be at home (welcome)
Hayakwi  Okay

Daniye  Sit down or
Dombelen  Sit down
Hayakwi  Okay

Pinadi segueremo  See you later

Hayakwi  Okay
Bai yaga segueremo See you another day

Birepo  Thank you (for the deed or work)


Birepo bali  You're welcome
Dolopo  Thank you (for the gift)

Dolopo bali.  You're welcome
Gana  Thank you

Gana bali.  You're welcome

Basic Questions
U yaba gwai?  Where are you from (where did you leave)?

Mi amerikki gwai.  I'm from America.
Bui uwo yangene gede?  What's your name?

Bui mmo ____ gede.  My name is _____.
U anagudu ange yesu?  How old are you?

Mi anagudu ____  yesen.  I am ____ years old
U yabai yadew?  Where are you going?


Mi damakolo yaden.  I'm going in town.
Mi guine yaden.  I'm going home.
Mi ibe yaden.  I'm going to market.
Nje kandew?  What are you doing?


Kide kama kanilen Nothing
Bire bireksen  Working
Domu domieksen  Waiting
Toyn toynieksen  Writing
Digen kanaksen  Talking (making conversation)
Djangu djangaksen  Studying
Mbegew?  Do you like it?


Eh, mbegen.  Yes, I like it.
Ai, mbelen.  No, I don't like it.
Namagew?  Do you want it?


Eh, namagem.  Yes, I want it.
Ai, namalam. No, I don't want it.
Pamkanew?  Do you understand (particular words)?


Eh, pamkenen.  Yes, I understand.
Ai, pamkanalin.  No, I don't understand.
Dogo So egedew?  Do you understand Dogon language?

Galeh galeh egeden.  Litle by little, I understand.

Basic Vocabulary
Dagao  Good

Dagali  Bad

Sie Great

Esego Nice

Esele Not nice

Dama Village

Nde  Person

Ana  Man

Yana Woman

Di  Water
Djaa  Meal
Guine  House
Tene  Well
Soi  Clothing/cloth

Jon  A lot

Mene  A little

Blessings and Expressions
Amba sie kana  May God make it go great

Djan li do  Safe travels (arrive with peace)

Amba yesie obo  May God give us the future (used when parting until another day)

Amba yogo baitara  May God give us tomorrow (used when parting until the next day)

Amba ku elel obo  May God give you happiness (a sweet head)

Amba djan li eme denemo  May God let us go into the afternoon with peace

Amba din sie obo May God give you a good day (used when parting in the morning)

Amba djanli eme segueremo May God let us meet again in peace

Amba miene sugondo Bon apetit (May God let it go down smoothly)

Amina Amen (response to all blessings)
Amba birepo   Thanks be to God
Amba ire kana  May god heal you

Ire go ma?  Are you better (healthier)?
Eh, ire go  Yes, I'm better (healthier).
Amba sagu, u sagu. We count on God and we count on you.

Amba nan sagu.  We count on God.