Africa phrasebook

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This phrasebook aims to list phrases for the major languages in Africa, where English and French are the most important trade languages. After that it depends on which countries you're going to.

Afrikaans

Arabic

  1. Hello / Salam aleykum
  2. How are you? / Kaifa haluka(haluki for women, halukum plural)? or easier 'Kifak in Syria, Ezzayek? in Egypt, Anta (anti for women) labas? in Maghreb
  3. I don't have money. / Ana beela or beedoona floos
  4. yes. / na'am or ai in dialects
  5. no. / la
  6. thank you. / shookran lak
  7. what's your name? / masmuka? or ismak eh? (egiptian) shoosmak? (syrian)
  8. my name is ..../ ismi ...
  9. where is ...? / ayna or fein (dialects)...?


Bambara

Bambara is the main language spoken in Mali. It is also mutually intelligible with Jula (Cote d'Ivoire), Malinke (Guinea, Senegal, Mandinka (Gambia)) and other languages spoken all over West Africa. Many words don't exist in Bambara and when you don't know a word people might understand the word in French. It's also very common to mix French and Bambara, especially in Mali's capital, Bamako.

  1. How are you? / I ka kene?
  2. Can you take me in your car? /
  3. I don't have money. / wari...
  4. Do you speak ...? Could you speak slower, please? / French / English
  5. yes / no / no thanks / Awoh / ayi / ayi, i ni ce
  6. That’s good / bad / no problem A kay / a may / basi te
  7. I don't understand. / I don't know. N'ya famu / N'ta don
  8. I'm going to ... / Where are you going to? N'be taa .../ I be taa min?
  9. My name is... / What's your name? / I’m from... / Where are you from? '
  10. Here is all right. Yan ka di (not sure)
  11. Thank you! / Have a good night! I ni ce! / A ni ula
  12. Where can I find ...? ... min?
  13. the road to ... ...
  14. I'd like some water/food. / ji / dumuni
  15. I don't eat meat (and fish) n'te sogo (ani jege) dun
  16. I’m... / hungry / fine / cold / hot / sick Ne ... / kongo / ka di / suma / / banabaato
  17. yesterday / today / now / later, after kunu / bi / sisaan / soni
  18. one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten kelen / f'la / saba / naani / duurun / wooro / wolonfla / segi / kononto / tan
  19. eleven / twelve / twenty tan ni kelen / tan ni fla / mugan
  20. hour / day / week / month / kilometre heuri / don / dogokun / kalo /
  21. this / next
  22. How many kilometers is it (on foot)? / Where are we? / far / not far
  23. How much does it cost? / What time is it?
  24. I am looking for a place to sleep.
  25. Who? / What? / Where? / Why? / When? Min? / / Min? / Munna? /
  26. How? / How much? / Which?


English

  1. Hello
  2. Excuse me..
  3. Do you possibly drive in the direction of ...?
  4. Could I get a lift to...?
  5. - a gasstation / a service area / a parking place? / along the highway
  6. Is the lift free? / I can't pay.
  7. Do you speak ...? / any other languages / Could you speak slower, please?
  8. yes / no / maybe / no thanks /
  9. That’s great / perfect / bad / no problem
  10. I don't understand. / I don't know.
  11. I'm going to ... / Where are you going to?
  12. My name is... / What's your name? / I’m from... / Where are you from?
  13. I’m ... years old. / How old are you?
  14. I study.... / My subjects are... / I’m in my ... year. / I will become a ....
  15. I have a boy-friend/a girl-friend. / I'm married.
  16. I’m on holiday. / I visit friends in... / I'm hitchhiking around...
  17. I will stay for... / I’m going back...
  18. Don’t touch me! / Let me out! / Stop! / Help!
  19. Can you drop me off here?
  20. Thank you! / Have a nice day/trip!
  21. Where can I find ...?
  22. - the city centre / a map
  23. - a toilet / a supermarket / a pharmacy / a campsite
  24. - an internetcafe / a cashmachine / a bank
  25. - a metrostation / a busstation / a trainstation
  26. - the highway to ... / a good hitchhikingspot
  27. water / (herbal) tea / hot chocolate / coffee
  28. beer / (red, white) wine / juice
  29. vegetarian / diner / bread / a cheap restaurant
  30. Cheers! / Enjoy your meal!
  31. I’m hungry / thirsty / fine / cold / hot / sick
  32. north / east / south / west
  33. yesterday / today / tomorrow
  34. zero / one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten
  35. eleven / twelve / thirteen / fourteen / fifteen / sixteen / seventeen / eighteen / nineteen / twenty
  36. twenty-one / thirty
  37. hour / day / week / month / kilometre
  38. left / right / straight on / before/ after
  39. this / next / last /
  40. often / seldom / never / long / short
  41. up / down / over / under
  42. How far is it (on foot)? / Where are we?
  43. How much does it cost? / What time is it?
  44. We are looking for a place to sleep.
  45. Where can we buy a ticket?
  46. Who? / What? / Where? / Why? / When?
  47. How? / How much? / How long? / Which?


French

  1. Hello / Bonjour. Salut.
  2. Excuse me / Excusez-moi
  3. Do you possibly drive in the direction of ...? / Allez-vous en direction de ... ?
  4. Could I get a lift to...? / Pouvez-vous m'amener jusqu'à ... ?
  5. - a gasstation / a service area / a parking place? / along the highway / - une station service / / une aire de repos / / un parking / / le long de l'autoroute / /
  6. Is the lift free? / / I can't pay. / Le trajet est gratuit? / / Je ne peux pas payer / /
  7. Do you speak ...? / any other languages / Could you speak slower, please? Parlez-vous ...? / / une autre langue / / (Pouvez-vous parler) plus lentement, s'il vous plaît? / /
  8. yes / no / maybe / no thanks / Oui / non / peut-être / non merci
  9. That’s great / perfect / bad / no problem C'est bien / / parfait / / pas bon / / Pas de problème / /
  10. I don't understand. / I don't know. Je ne comprends pas // Je ne sais pas / /
  11. I'm going to ... / Where are you going to? Je vais à ... / / Où allez-vous? / /
  12. My name is... / What's your name? / I’m from... / Where are you from? Je m'appelle ... / / Comment vous appellez-vous ? / / Je viens de ... / / D'où venez-vous? / /
  13. I’m ... years old. / How old are you? J'ai ... ans / / Quel âge avez-vous? / /
  14. I study.... / My subjects are... / I’m in my ... year. / I will become a .... J'étudie ... / / Mes matières sont... / / Je suis en (4e,5e,6e) année / / Je veux devenir ... / /
  15. I have a boy-friend/a girl-friend. / I'm married. J'ai un petit ami/une petite amie / / Je suis marié
  16. I’m on holiday. / I visit friends in... / I'm hitchhiking around... Je suis en vacances / / Je vais voir des amis à ... / / je fais du stop autour de ... / /
  17. I will stay for... / I’m going back... Je vais rester pendant ... / / Je reviens le .../ /
  18. Don’t touch me! / Let me out! / Stop! / Help! Ne me touchez pas! / /Laissez-moi sortir! / /Stop! / / A l'aide ! / /
  19. Can you drop me off here? Pouvez-vous me déposer ici, s'il vous plaît? / /
  20. Thank you! / Have a nice day/trip! Merci! / / Bonne journée ! / / Bon voyage! / /
  21. Where can I find ...? Où puis-je trouver...?
  22. - a toilet / a supermarket / a pharmacy / a campsite - the city centre / a map - une toilette / / un supermarché / / une pharmacie / / un camping / / le centre-ville / / une carte / /
  23. - an internetcafe / a cashmachine / a bank - un cybercafé / / un distributeur de billets / / une banque / /
  24. - a metrostation / a busstation / a trainstation - une station de métro / / une station de bus / / une gare / /
  25. - the highway to ... / a good hitchhikingspot - l'autoroute pour ... / / un bon endroit pour faire du stop / /
  26. water / (herbal) tea / hot chocolate / coffee eau / / thé (aux herbes) / / chocolat chaud / / café/ /
  27. beer / (red, white) wine / juice bière / / vin (rouge, blanc) / / jus / /
  28. vegetarian / diner / bread / a cheap restaurant végétarien / / petit restaurant / /pain / / un restaurant pas cher / /
  29. Cheers! / Enjoy your meal! Bon appétit!
  30. I’m hungry / thirsty / fine / cold / hot / sick J'ai faim / / soif/ / bien / / froid / / chaud / / Je suis malade / /
  31. north / east / south / west nord/ / est / / sud / / ouest / /
  32. yesterday / today / tomorrow hier / / aujourd'hui / / demain / /
  33. zero / one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten zero / / un / / deux / / trois / / quatre / / cinq / / six / / sept / / huit / / neuf / / dix / /
  34. eleven / twelve / thirteen / fourteen / fifteen / sixteen / seventeen / eighteen / nineteen / twenty onze / / douze/ / treize/ / quatorze/ / quinze/ / seize/ / dix-sept/ / dix-huit/ / dix-neuf/ / vingt/ /,
  35. twenty-one / thirty vingt-et-un / / trente/ /
  36. hour / day / week / month / kilometre heure/ / jour/ / semaine/ / mois / / kilomètre / /
  37. left / right / straight on / before/ after gauche/ / droite/ / tout droit / / avant / / après/ /
  38. this / next / last ce/cette/ / prochain/prochaine/ / dernier/dernière/ /
  39. often / seldom / never / long / short souvent/ / rarement/ / jamais/ / long// court//
  40. up / down / over / under en haut/ / en bas/ / dessus/ / dessous//
  41. How far is it (on foot)? / Where are we? C'est loin comment (à pied) ?/ / Où sommes-nous ?//
  42. How much does it cost? / What time is it? Combien ça coûte ?/ / Quelle heure est-il ?//
  43. We are looking for a place to sleep. Nous cherchons un endroit où dormir.//
  44. Where can we buy a ticket? Où pouvons-nous acheter un billet ?//
  45. Who? / What? / Where? / Why? / When? Qui ?/ / Quoi ?/ / Où ?/ / Pourquoi ?// Quand ?//
  46. How? / How much? / How long? / Which? Comment ?/ / Combien ?/ / combien de temps ?/ / Lequel : Laquelle ?//

Peul

Portuguese

Hello – Olá

Excuse me.. – Desculpe..

Do you possibly drive in the direction of ...? – Vai na direcção de...?

Could I get a lift to...? – Podia-me dar boleia até...? (NOTE: if you are in Brazil, you should substitute the term "boleia" for "carona")

- a gasstation / a service area / a parking place? / along the highway – um posto de gasolina / uma estação de serviço / um parque de estacionamento / ao longo desta auto-estrada?

Is the lift free? / I can't pay. – a boleia é grátis? / não posso pagar.

Do you speak ...? / any other languages / Could you speak slower, please? – Você fala...? / outras línguas / Podia falar mais devagar, por favor?

yes / no / maybe / no thanks – sim / não / talvez / não, obrigado

That’s great / perfect / bad / no problem – Óptimo / perfeito / mau / não há problema

I don't understand. / I don't know – não compreendo / não sei

I'm going to ... / Where are you going to? – Eu vou para... / Para onde se dirige?

My name is... / What's your name? / I’m from... / Where are you from? – O meu nome é... / Como se chama? / Eu sou de... / De onde você é?

I’m ... years old. / How old are you? – Eu tenho(...) anos / Que idade você tem?

I study.... / My subjects are... / I’m in my ... year. / I will become a .... – Eu estudo... / A minha área é... / Estou no meu (...) ano / Serei um (Serei uma, if you are a woman)...

I have a boy-friend/a girl-friend. / I'm married. – Tenho um namorado/uma namorada / Sou casado (Sou casada, if you are a woman)

I’m on holiday. / I visit friends in... / I'm hitchhiking around... – Estou de férias / Visito amigos em... / Ando à boleia por...

I will stay for... / I’m going back... – Vou ficar por... / Vou voltar...

Don’t touch me! / Let me out! / Stop! / Help! – Não me toque! / Deixe-me sair! / Pare! / Socorro!

Can you drop me off here? – Pode-me deixar aqui?

Thank you! / Have a nice day/trip! – Obrigado! / Tenha um bom dia/viagem!

Where can I find ...? – Onde posso encontrar...?

- the city centre / a map – o centro da cidade / um mapa

- a toilet / a supermarket / a pharmacy / a campsite – uma casa de banho (in Brazil: um banheiro) / um supermercado / uma farmácia / um acampamento

- an internetcafe / a cashmachine / a bank – um café com internet (or "cibercafé") / um multibanco / um banco

- a metrostation / a busstation / a trainstation – uma estação de metro / uma estação de autocarro / uma estação de comboio

- the highway to ... / a good hitchhikingspot – a auto-estrada para... / um bom local para pedir boleia

water / (herbal) tea / hot chocolate / coffee – água / chá / chocolate quente / café

beer / (red, white) wine / juice – cerveja / vinho (tinto, branco) / sumo

vegetarian / diner / bread / a cheap restaurant – vegetariano (vegetariana if you are a woman) / jantar / pão / um restaurante barato

Cheers! / Enjoy your meal! – Felicidades! / Bom apetite!

I’m hungry / thirsty / fine / cold / hot / sick – tenho fome / tenho sede / estou bem / tenho frio / tenho calor / estou doente

north / east / south / west – norte / este / sul / oeste

yesterday / today / tomorrow – ontem / hoje / amanhã

zero / one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten – zero / um / dois / três / quatro / cinco / seis / sete / oito / nove / dez

eleven / twelve / thirteen / fourteen / fifteen / sixteen / seventeen / eighteen / nineteen / twenty – onze / doze / treze / catorze / quinze / dezasseis / dezassete / dezoito / dezanove / vinte

twenty-one / thirty – vinte e um / trinta

hour / day / week / month / kilometre – hora / dia / semana / mês / quilómetro

left / right / straight on / before/ after – esquerda / direita / em frente / antes / depois

this / next / last / - este / próximo / último

often / seldom / never / long / short – muitas vezes / raramente / nunca / longo / curto

up / down / over / under – cima / baixo / por cima / por baixo

How far is it (on foot)? / Where are we? – Fica a que distância (a pé)? / Onde estamos?

How much does it cost? / What time is it? – Quanto custa? / Que horas são?

I'm are looking for a place to sleep. – Procuro um sítio para dormir

Where can I buy a ticket? – Onde posso comprar um bilhete?

Who? / What? / Where? / Why? / When? – Quem? / O quê? / Onde? / Porque? / Quando?

How? / How much? / How long? / Which? – Como? / Quanto? / Por quanto tempo? / Qual?


Swahili

Wolof

Wolof is the unofficial national language of Senegal and The Gambia; it's also spoken in southern Mauritania. Having a basic knowledge will help you a lot as it will make people respect you much more - from police at checkpoints to potential drivers - and is especially useful in rural areas where people don't speak much English or French. Many words that have only been introduced into people's vocabulary after colonisation are actually French resp. English words, and so are some "hip" expressions among young people. In urban areas, it's quite common to mix Wolof with French or English to some extent.

x is pronounced like ch in Loch Ness.

  1. How are you? / Nanga def?
  2. Can you take me in your car? / Munna dem si sa otobi?
  3. I don't have money. / I have money. Auma xalis. / Amna Xalis
  4. Please (not very widely used) su la neexe
  5. Do you speak ...? / Could you speak slower, please? / French / English Dega nga... / Waxal ndanka su la neexe / faranse / angresi
  6. yes / no / no thanks / Wow / deedet / deedet, jerejef
  7. That’s good / bad / no problem baaxna / bahout / amul problem
  8. I don't understand. / I don't know. Man deguma / hauma
  9. I'm going to ... / Where are you going to? Mangi dem.../ Foi dem?
  10. My name is... / What's your name? / I’m from... / Where are you from? Mangi tudd... / Naka nga tuda? / Mangi joge... / Foi joge?
  11. Here is all right. Fii baaxna.
  12. Thank you! / Have a good night! Jerejef! / Fanaan Jama!
  13. Where can I find ...? Ana...?
  14. the road to ... yon la...
  15. I'd like some water/food. / dama buga ndox/leka
  16. I don't eat meat (and fish) duma deh leka japa ak jinn
  17. I’m... / hungry / fine / cold / hot / sick Mangi... / xiif / baaxna / seda / taanga / feebar
  18. yesterday / today / now / later, after demba / tey / legi / sekanam
  19. one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten bena / nyar / nyeta / nyenent / jorom / jorom bena / jorom nyar / jorom nyeta / jorom nyenent / fuka
  20. eleven / twelve / twenty fuka bena / fuka nyar / nyar fuka
  21. hour / day / week / month / kilometre wax / jour / semaine / wer / kilomètre
  22. this / nextbi / kenen (or was it benen?)
  23. How many kilometers is it (on foot)? / Where are we? / far / not far Nyata kilometre (taankabi)? / Fii fan? / sore / sore ut
  24. How much does it cost? / What time is it? Nyata la? / Ban wax?
  25. I am looking for a place to sleep. Dama buga fanaan
  26. Who? / What? / Where? / Why? / When? Kan? / Lan? / Fan?/ Lu tax? / Kan?
  27. How? / How much? / Which? Naka? / Nyata? / Ban?