West Africa French vs. France French
Replies: 26 - Last Post: Jul 15, 2012 11:45 PM Last Post By: Andreas_at_LP
Jul 11, 2012 5:12 PM
Apart from employing random words and phrases in French, the vast majority of the population in West Africa do not speak French to each other on a regular basis. An exception to this is in the army, certain intellectual circles, and the civil service. The local people do always speak to each other in a local lingua franca. Vous pigez, Chef?
Jul 11, 2012 7:00 PM
Jul 11, 2012 7:11 PM
Not every part of Francophone West Africa has a local lingua franca: the city of Conakry has no lingua franca, nor does Guinea's Forest Region. In such cases, people will use whatever languages they have - including French - to speak to each other. (the same happens with English in West Africa - Nigeria's Cross River State is a good example)
West Africans tend to move around quite a bit: people traveling from one Francophone country to another - and sometimes even from one region to another - won't be able to speak the local lingua franca (if one exists) and will only be able to communicate in French. If you travel in Senegal and Guinea, you'll hear a lot of conversations taking place in French, at least in the cities.
The other point of course is that virtually all schooling in Francophone West Africa takes place in French. Anyone who has attended any school - even out in the villages - will have sat through class after class in French: this means the majority of those living in Francophone West Africa will have significant exposure to French, even if they live in a village or town where almost all day-to-day conversation takes place in a given local language.
Jul 11, 2012 10:19 PM
Contrary to your assertion, in every West African country, including Guinea and its forest region, there are local linguas francas. Doesn`t mean that every group of people you encounter that are speaking French to each other are all from the same country! Guinea, for instance, hosts a lot of Africans from other African countries, which do not share Guinean languages, and in result, it`s logical that French becomes the lingua franca for such cross-country group. In the case of Senegal, their lingua franca is indisputably Wolof, particularly in Dakar.
Jul 12, 2012 12:19 AM
19By a lingua franca in this context I mean a language which is known by a clear majority of people in a region, and is the natural language for people to communicate in when they come across others who don't speak their mother tongue. If you wandered down to a busy market in the region, you'd expect to hear much of the discussions being held in the lingua franca.
Please tell me, in Guinea's forest region, what is this language?
Jul 12, 2012 1:07 AM
20#16 you seem to say everything and its opposite. In your first contribution you state that almost nobody speaks French.
MY experience is: i regularly heard LOCAL people speaking French between them in Mali, Burkina, Togo, Niger....
Not so much in Senegal though.
Oh, by the way, i AM French, so there's no chance that i confused French with Fula, Bambara, Haoussa or Tamasheq..... They DID indeed speak French. Why does that seem to bother you so much?
you remind me of Marocfan on the Moroccan branch: everything he has not seen or done cannot and does not exist. :)
The point of TT is to share experiences, not come here and claim than only you know the truth and that what other have encountered is either valueless or a lie....
Jul 12, 2012 1:29 AM
21Nicely put Skunkman, agreed, where the idea came that very few speak French I'm not sure, even in remote parts of Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina etc, it's RARE I've not been able to communicate with someone in French!
So I'm not the only one who wonders about Marocfan's 'knowledge' - he seems to have vanished from here of late - gone off to brush up on places outside Marrakech/Essouria?!
Jul 12, 2012 2:46 AM
22I live in Senegal and speak French pretty well, however, the French spoken in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, by average, working-class people is nearly incomprehensible to me. French is the main language of Abidjan, and the people there have made it 'their own' and given it an accent and a manner of speaking which I find very strange (kind of like people from Marseilles in France). Outside of Abidjan the French in West Africa is easy to understand. Senegalese in Dakar in particular are good with French, though if you meet someone who has not been to school in Senegal, you will note that they cannot pronounce the 'zh' or 'v' sounds because wolof does not have those sounds! "Voyager" becomes "woyasey". "Poivre" becomes "pobar"!
Jul 12, 2012 8:51 AM
Blame your poor command of English for not understanding my point.
No one can dispute that French is widely spoken across West Africa. But my point, as zfactor put it in a line, is:
“they will speak to each other in a local language other than French but to you as a visitor, they will usually address only in French.”
By-the-way, it is pretty shameful smearing someone (Marocfan) with BS in their absence.
Jul 12, 2012 10:03 AM
24Poor command of English? Skunkman's English has been excellent throughout his posts, I'm an native English speaker ...
Many Ivoirian friends address each other in French as well as local languages whether I'm in their presence or not!
Marocfan has also had a go at me in the past, don't worry about that! It's not BS & I have given credit to him when & where it's due too over the years!!
Jul 12, 2012 8:19 PM
25Please tell me, in Guinea's forest region, what is this language?
With due respect, the lingua franca in the Guinée Forestière region is Kpelle, which is also spoken in parts of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Ivory Coast. I lived in this area for many years during the past decade. And I went back there again in a professional capacity in the early of this year for 71 days, undertaking a robust systematic investigation (in the form of research) to establish some relevant and related facts of this region accordingly, commissioned by an international agency. However, this should not sound in any case that I`m the expert of this extended region.
Jul 15, 2012 11:45 PM
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