Soussou Language

Sources for Learning Soussou

Below, find a number of key resources that can be used to learn Soussou. Note well that most of these resources are in French, and will require competency in French to make use of. Also, I have also made small notes where the works are not fully accurate. Finally, given the fact that there is a real dearth of Soussou language resources, I will make sure that I note that most of these have certain flaws, and a more comprehensive book remains to be seen (and likely exists but is not to be found in major Western academic libraries–at least at this point).

  1. Bah, Fory. Sosoxui: Corps de La Paix (Xarandi Xa Buki). Conakry: Peace Corps, 2014.


Bah’s work, according to my own personal research, is perhaps the most comprehensive guide to conversational Soussou available, especially to learners who are seeking to learn about Soussou in English. The “Student Handbook” (Kharandi kha Booki) provides extensive dialogue examples. The biggest shortcoming is that there is a confusing orthography that is used when writing that can make the book very difficult for people who do not have a teacher or a mentor. Rather than taking advantage of previous language study conventions in Soussou, the book opts for its own rules. This can be confusing. For example, gnari (cat) in the manual becomes “¯ari.” Sossokhui becomes “sosoxui,” with the “x” replacing the more commonly written “kh” and sometimes being used interchangeably with the “h” (these are, in fact, different aspirations).

  1. Sangster, Linda W., and Emmanuel Faber. Susu: Intermediate Course. Bloomington: Indiana University, 1969.


Sangster and Faber’s approach is generally quite similar to that of Bah, and I think is somewhat more dated in terms of the language that is used. Orthographically, they use a similar version as Bah, which I tend to think, again, is a disadvantage. The biggest struggle with this orthography, which I have a sense was somewhat systematized for English learners of Soussou with Sangster and Faber’s contribution, is that it is completely different than what is used in Guinée. So if you were to update the book for the present, and understand that in fact communication in Soussou is not simply spoken but also written (especially via social media when abroad) there must be a clear understanding of what it takes to be made intelligible. Two strengths of Sangster and Faber are as follows. First, their book is in fact in a series, with an Beginner Course as well. However, the Beginner Course is harder to find, so I have chosen to evaluate this one because it is the one I had on hand. Additionally, if you were to be self-studying Soussou, there are language resource tapes, which have been usefully uploaded online. These are listed here on the Indiana website: .


  1. Lacan, Père Ph. Grammaire et Dictionnaire Français-Soussou et Soussou-Français. Bordeaux: Procure des PP. du Saint-Esprit, 1942.


Although a dated learning resource, this is perhaps one of the most comprehensive resource available from the library. It is one of the only French-Soussou dictionaries that I have been able to find. The advantage of this is that it has some grammatical tips at the beginning of the book, and generally can serve as a useful support. However, likely because it is an older work compiled by a French missionary, there are errors in some of the entries, although many are fine. Often times, certain words have sample usage as well, which makes this a great resource to have around.


  1. Houis, Maurice. Étude Descriptive de la Langue Susu. Mémoires de l’Institut Français d’Afrique Noire, No. 67. Dakar: Institut Français d’Afrique Noire (IFAN), 1963.


This important study was produced in the early 1960s at IFAN: the Institut Français d’Afrique Noire. IFAN was an important institution founded by the French colonial government in the mid-1930s to essentially enhance the French colonization of Africa through increased concentration of academic research methods to the history and contemporary cultures of France’s African colonies. They employed, amongst others, a large cadre of French and French-trained anthropologists, historians, and linguists to study much of West African society. Maurice Houis was a French ethnographer and linguist who worked extensively in West Africa during the postwar period. Additionally, he was well known for his work on the Pular (Peul/Fulani) language.

This book was part of IFAN’s extensive series of localized studies, much of which covered the study of the languages of West Africa. As a study produced in the early 1960s, and as part of the French colonial establishment, it bears many markers that make it quite similar to other grammatical and linguistic studies at the time. Much of the book is organized into specialized dissection of the grammar and rules of Soussou, making it a sharp departure from the first two books on this list. However, for the intrepid Soussou learner who wants to take full advantage of the French resources available on this list, this is an excellent book. From Chapter VI and onward, there are extensive practice sentences that a language learner would find quite helpful.


  1. Guinée Service Alphabétisation. Grammaire Pratique Soussou. Conakry: République de Guinée, Haut Commissariat à la Jeunesse et à la Culture Populaire, 1970.


This piece is included as a small representation held in the UCLA library collections of the type of academic materials that were produced during Guinea’s First Republic (1958-1984) that were used to promote the education and training in the “national languages” of Guinea, such as Soussou. Although there were numerous resources that were created in this period, few of them reached circulation outside of Guinea. However, they represent a key history of language learning, educational materials, and pedagogy regarding the teaching of languages such as Soussou.

One small note about this text is that it is not as accessible to primarily English-speaking learners. As the vast majority of the materials produced in Guinea, this text is in French and Soussou only. Furthermore, it actually takes a similar approach to the IFAN work, and largely focuses on grammar. To the best of my understanding, it was a means of teaching grammar and how language works to native Soussou speakers. However, there are countless examples of language use that can be found throughout the book, which makes it an excellent resource.


  1. Breyo, Alexandre. Je me Débrouille en Soussou: Parler Soussou Tout de Suite. Independently published, 2018.


This book is included not as a recommendation but more as a caveat for potential Soussou language learners. When searching online, especially on websites such as Amazon, this book comes us. Breyo seems to be a publisher of numerous “self-study” guides that are used widely. However, the reviews and what is publicly available about Breyo is somewhat dubious, at least. Try to avoid this book.


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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.