Soninke Ajami Manuscripts

An interview with Darya Ogorodnikova about West African manuscripts written in Arabic Script

Editor’s Note: One of the most promising, but understudied traditions of African manuscripts that include sub-Saharan African languages written in Arabic script is that of Soninke. To learn more about this, I recently addressed a number of questions to Darya Ogorodnikova who has been researching Soninke Ajami manuscripts as an Ajami Lab member since 2013. She will defend her PhD at the University of Hamburg in 2020. – CD

What are Soninke Ajami manuscripts?

By Ajami manuscripts, I mean manuscripts containing Ajami elements; that is, words and phrases in local West African languages written in Arabic script. Such writing may make up an entire text. Soninke Ajami elements in manuscripts, however, are mainly represented by annotations, written between the lines or in the margins. They typically serve to explain the phrases of primarily Arabic language texts.

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Intralinear Ajami (Type 2)

Manuscripts where Ajami phrases follow Arabic phrases on the same line.

This is the third post in a series on types of Ajami. Read the initial introduction here and find all of the posts here.

“Intralinear Ajami”, in the strictest sense, refers to African language phrases following Arabic ones written on the same line. Similarly to Type 1 (which I reviewed in my previous post), such Ajami, which I call Type 2, is written in a continuous act of writing.

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