7. How To Easily Converse in Wolof: Waxtaan – Conversations

Welcome to the LAST Wolof Class: Waxtaan – Conversation! Yesterday, I taught you how to count in Wolof. Today, we are going to continue and finish by talking about Waxtaan. Which means to discuss or to conversate. Today, I want to focus on a couple of expressions and the way we talk in Wolof. It has officially been a week since I started Kaay ñu jang Wolof! Before we get into the subject: don’t forget to join the SeneGambia Vibes Club on ClubHouse where we do a Wolof class each Saturday (TODAY)! Until today, I posted a Wolof class on YouTube, a blogpost with a download to the syllabus and some stories and posts on my Instagram. I have to say that I am SO proud of myself! Especially since I decided to do this at the last moment. Such a procrastinator. – Let’s get into the last class: Waxtaan – Conversation.

Waxtaan in Wolof

In Senegal we love to talk! Therefore waxtaan is an essential part of our lives. Everywhere you go, there is something to talk about. May it be the weather, something upsetting about the news or just innocent gossiping with the taxi driver. In the first class, Nuyoo – Greetings, we already talked about how to start a conversation and what is common to say. I think you should definitely take that in consideration when we continue today’s class. For example, remember to start with Salaam-Aleikum when you enter a place where there are people or when you greet people or want to ask something. I remember that almost everywhere, people will greet each other. When people enter a bus, enter the bank, a waiting room at the hospital, almost everywhere they would say Salaam-Aleikum. Which is so beautiful!

However, today, I do not want to talk about greeting, but about expressions we have and use in Wolof. I think that the more you spend time in Senegal, the more expressions you’ll come across. What is funny is that with Wolof you can get so creative and some words can be used to say a whole different thing. What is funny is that with Wolof you can get so creative and some words can be used to say a whole different thing. I think you may experience that when you watch Senegalese shows, as they exist for entertainment as well. I once heard this: Bo ma jalé baat, ma door la ba pan sa kaw. Literally, it says: if you interrupt me (again) I will slap you until I’ll breakdown. When I heard it, I laughed so hard because of the way it was said and the creativity of it.

Waxtaan – Conversation

So, what are some interesting expressions we use in Wolof? I remember in Podor, my grandmother would greet me every morning and ask me how I slept. Jàmm nga fanaane? would be her question, if I had slept in peace. The night before, she would always wish me a good night’s sleep as well. Fanaanal ak jàmm – Sleep peacefully. Afterwards, you can even add: Ba suba in Sha Allah, until tomorrow, In Sha Allah. Again, the presence of Islam is evident, but also beautifully represented or incorporated into Wolof. Another important one is when someone says thank you, jërëjëf, we reply with niofar. And you can interpret niofar as you’re welcome or we are together, on est ensemble.

If you check out the syllabus, I have included a wide range of questions and answers you can ask. I for example included how to ask the time, if someone can speak louder, repeat etc.. I know I haven’t been able to cover everything about the Wolof language such as conjugation. However, I did try to include the most used tenses within the different syllabi and hope it was helpful.

Ba beneen

Because this is the last class, I want to add this last expression ba beneen In Sha Allah – until next time, In Sha Allah. What I love about this expression is that whenever I (usually) say it, I shake my left hand with the people I say it to. Apparently, it is the only time you can use your left hand in greeting. I was told that when saying goodbye to someone who traveled from far, you can shake hands with your left. This is in the hopes of seeing each other again. Personally, it has always worked so far.

Don’t forget to watch the video and download the syllabus Waxtaan – Conversation for even more expressions! I specifically created it for this class. The idea was to only share a one-page stencil or worksheet. However, I was so consumed by creating this syllabus and this is the result! If you find it hard to listen to Wolof, definitely read the dialogue between me and Nafissa while watching my video. I know it is the last class, but don’t be sad! I’m not going anywhere, if you have any questions or feedback, let me know :). So, hereby I shake your left hand and say to you: Ba beneen, In Sha Allah.

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