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Documentation of Bedik


Language Bedik, Medik
Depositor Adjaratou Oumar Sall
Affiliation Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire Cheikh Anta Diop, University of Dakar, Senegal
Location Senegal
Collection ID 0141
Grant ID IPF0139
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

This collection contains the first description and documentation of Bedik, a highly endangered language. The Bedik community would like to preserve and document their language and culture, so a collection of annotated texts based on recordings of speech in various genres and cultural contexts, and a first dictionary of around 3000 entries have been created.


Group represented

Bedik are a small ethnic minority, comprised of about 3500 individuals living in villages located in the mountains of eastern Senegal. The group represented here are the Bedik individuals of the rural community Bandafassi. Along with the Bassaris, the Napens and the Konyagi, they comprise the Tenda group.

The Bediks speak other languages to the point that some Bediks use the Bedik language as a second language and others completely lost the practice of this language. Some people still speak it by mixing it with many words from Peul, Bassari, and other languages, which is why it is sometimes considered as a Creole language.

The youth is the main demographic of the Bedik population and, as Bedik people are forced to move to big cities to survive and to help those who cannot move and stay in the villages, they come in touch with other languages and other cultures which leads to the tendency to drop their language and many aspect of their culture. Elders in the village regret this fact as they cannot find young people willing to receive the knowledge and the secrets of their culture. Furthermore the youth, forced by the poverty and mobilized to secure material means, has no time to collect and preserve the Bedik traditions and customs.


Language information

Bedik is a language belonging to the Mande group of the Niger-Congo language family. Bedik is called Mënik by its speakers, which are an ethnic minority in Senegal. The Bedik language has been codified since September, 2004, therefore there are conventional norms governing the spelling of this language. The Bedik alphabet contains 29 letters, constituted of 23 consonants and 6 vowels. It is a tone language. It is also nominal-class language as many languages of the West Atlantic group. Although still spoken by the community, it is a highly endangered language; Bediks often express themselves in Pulaar, their adoptive language, and French, the school language.


Collection contents

The collection consists of a corpus of texts and images on the traditions and the customs of the Bedik people (tales, riddles, stories, songs, proverbs, praises, ritual ceremonies, games, discussions). The recording and (partial) transcription and annotation of these texts provide access to the sounds of the language and to narrative, as well as others types of oral discourse. There is also access to the first bilingual dictionary Bedik-Français.


Collection history

Apart from some linguists who worked on it to establish the (orthographic) codification, the main works on this language were done by Prof. Mary Paule Ferry of the National Centre for Scientific Research (France) and his team. Apart from this, the depositor Adjaratou Oumar Sall carried out two fieldtrips to the area, and carried out surveys for six months. As a result of this preparatory work, the depositor had a good overview of the sociolinguistic situation, and knew where fluent speakers would still be found.


Acknowledgement and citation

Users of any part of the collection should acknowledge Adjaratou Oumar Sall as the principal investigator. Users should also acknowledge the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme as the funder of the project. Individual speakers whose words and/or images are used should be acknowledged by name. Any other contributor who has collected, transcribed or translated the data or was involved in any other way should be acknowledged by name. All information on contributors is available in the metadata.

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Oumar Sall, Adjaratou. 2017. Documentation of Bedik. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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