Wolof Language Interpreters and Translators

Cal Interpreting & Translations (CIT) offers Wolof interpreters and translators with legal, medical, and specialty experience, including criminal and civil matters, employee meetings, engineering, patent cases, labor disputes, immigration, and more.

CIT offers comprehensive Wolof language services including interpretation, translation, and transcription, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, worldwide. Our interpreters and translators are native speakers who have been screened, certified, provided credentials, field tested, and kept up to date with developments in both English and Wolof languages through means such as lectures, conferences, and travel.  Cal Interpreting & Translations’ Wolof language interpreters and translators possess in depth knowledge of the Wolof language, as well as of the culture and history of the Wolof people, allowing them to provide informed and complete interpretation and translation.

 

Who speaks Wolof?

The Wolof people are a West African ethnic group located in Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauritania. The Wolof language belongs to the Senegambian branch of the Niger-Congo language family. Wolof is the most widely spoken Senegambian language, and the national language of Senegal. In Senegal, Wolof people are the largest ethnic group, at about 39% of the population. Outside of Senegal, the Wolof are a minority. Currently, there are over 4 million native Wolof speakers and millions who speak the language as a second tongue.

 

Wolof Versus Lebu Wolof, What’s the Difference?

Lebu Wolof is a language spoke in Senegal that is similar to but not mutually intelligible with Wolof. Lebu Wolof is actually the source of Standard Wolof, and all Lebu Wolof speakers can speak Wolof as well.

The Lebu, or Lebou, are an ethnic African people who live in Senegal, on a peninsula called Cap-Vert. The Lebu are mostly fishermen, but also provide modern construction supplies. The Lebu have a religious sect called Layene. Though the Lebu were historically conquered through the time of their founding in the 1400s to the 19th century, since 1815 they have been recognized legally as a “theocratic republic”.

 

A History of the Wolof People

The ancient history of the Wolof people is not totally clear. Some surviving oral traditions connect the early Wolof to the Almoravids, an 11th century Muslim dynasty centered in Morocco. However, the earliest documentation of the Wolof people is in 15th century records of an Italian traveler. The traveler noted the Islamic Wolof chiefs, and their Muslim advisors and spiritual diviners.

The pre-Islamic traditions of Wolof religion are largely unknown. Historical evidence counters oral traditions. Oral traditions claim the Wolof have been Muslim since the Wolof Kingdom (often called the  Kingdom of Jolof) was founded. For almost 200 years, from 1549-1875, the Wolof Kingdom of Jolof ruled what is today Senegal. After 1875, the area was absorbed into the French colony Dakar, then officially extinguished in 1900.

Historical evidence however, suggests that many Wolof warriors and rulers did not readily convert to Islam, but did rely on Muslim counselors. In the 18th century, internal conflict arose within the Wolof people regarding Islam. In the 19th century, French colonists began aggressive wars against the Wolof. To resist the French, the Wolof converted to Islam. Most modern-day Wolof are Sufi Muslims. The Wolof people today are also referred to as Chelofes, Galofes, Lolof, Jolof, Olof, Volof, Wolluf and Yolof.

 

Wolof Dialects

Wolof dialects differ based on geography, as well as between rural and urban areas. A commonly spoken dialect is “Dakar-Wolof”, an urban mixture of Wolof, French, and Arabic. Senegalese/Mauritanian Wolof and Gambian Wolof are distinct national standards. They both use different languages (French vs English) as their source for loanwords. Still, both the spoken and written languages are mutually intelligible. Lebu Wolof, however, mentioned above, is unintelligible with standard Wolof.

 

 

Wolof and English

English is thought to have adopted some Wolof words, including banana, via either the  Spanish or Portuguese. The phrase “yum” or “yummy” comes from the Wolof nyam: “to taste”.