Soussou Language

Parts of the Human Body in Soussou

Objective: Learning parts of the human body is an important part of language learning. This can be especially true if you ever traveling and get hurt or fall ill. Knowing how to describe various parts of the body is also an interesting way to learn important vocabulary that can allow you to talk about other people and perhaps describe people who you met. This lesson will go over the important parts of the human body, and will also have some practice sentences to allow you to think about how these words are used in real interactions.


Key Vocabulary:

Mikhi / Adámadi – human being

Khougni – head

Khounsèhè – hair

Ya – eyes

Touli – ears

Dhè – mouth

Gnoè – nose

Yatagui – face

Tonqui – shoulder

Kongni – neck

Tabé – thigh

Khöri – bone

Khörè – backside

Kanké – chest

Fouri – stomach

Bèlèhè – hand

Bèlèhè solé – finger

Sangni – foot

Sangni sole – toe

Fari – back

Khèrè – cheek


Sample sentences and phrases:

M’khougni nan n’hönö fé – My head hurts

I khougnsèhè kouya – Your hair is long

N’ya nan n’hönö fé – My eye hurts

I (ya) ma to fé? – You didn’t see it (with your eyes)?

I touli rabi! – Open your years (Listen up!)

I mouna foura khi? – Are you doing well? (lit. Is there no sickness?)

I yalanhi? – Are you in good health?

I yatagui ma ha – Wash your face!

N’han yatagui ma ha fé – I am washing my face.



  • With your language mentor, talk through parts of the human body. Begin with the head and work your way down to your feet. Try to work on correct pronunciation.
    • Note here that in the “vrai Soussou” of the village, there are some differences in the words that are used to refer to various parts of the body for people who are respected. For example, the work for the head, mouth, or hand of your parents or elders would be different than the word you would use for yourself or a friend.
  • Try to come up with some example sentences. For example, when talking about hair color, you can practice with colors. You can talk about people being short or tall. You can talk about hands being large or smaller. This is a chance for you to explore some adjectives and try to pair them correctly.
  • Additionally, this could be a chance to practice personal pronouns (N’ha, I’ha, A’ha etc.) that we have come across already. Try to talk about “My eyes,” or “her hair.” This is a good way to practice using the pronouns we have already touched on.
  • Try working on role-playing scenarios as well. Imagine that you get sick when you’re out and you have to say what is wrong. Try to practice saying that you are not doing well, and then try to talk about which part of the body is feeling bad. For example, if you have a tooth ache, but you don’t know the exact word for that, how might you say your mouth hurts? How might you say your head hurts if you have a headache? Try to practice these basic phrases again with your language mentor.
    • If there are more specific words for such feelings, make sure that you ask your language mentor to give you the exact wording.


Feedback and Reflection

As you spend time working with your language mentor, try to notice patterns that might distinguish certain parts of the human body. For example, the relationship between the word for head (khougni) and the word for hair (khounsèhè). Make sure to make notes of these parallels and relationships as you move forward. If there are parts of the human body that you’re unsure about but want to ask about, make sure to consult with your language mentor.

As you work through especially the role-play section, write out the scenario by hand, and review it with your mentor both for spelling and for pronunciation. From there, you can record yourself, and then review the recording later down the line to track your own progress.


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Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.