This blog represents my views, and not those of the Peace Corps, the government of Mali, or anyone else.


Here are definitions of many terms I may use that are Peace Corps-ian, Malian, or simply me-ian slang. Please let me know if you need anything else defined!

Administratively Separated - what happens when you do something really bad and against the rules. This is like being fired, essentially.
American Club
A recreation facility run by Americans in Bamako where PCVs can go to swim in the pool, play tennis, and eat cheeseburgers
Bambara for America
Ane Dembele
My Malian name at my site. Pronounced as if all the 'e's were accented (é) (the sound is 'ay' in English)
Bamako (Bko)
The capital city in Mali. While it's not exactly NYC, it is a large city with some shiny sky-scraper type buildings and the like. Being shy of cities, I avoid it, although there is real ice cream to be had in there.
The main language spoken in Mali. Although it is not universal, it tends to be the most useful language for getting around in. This is the language I studied during training. In Bambara, it is called Bamanankan
Basi tε
No trouble
This is short for a village near my home stay village that is slightly larger than Soundougouba
bff / nbf
best friends forever / new best friends
Boukari Diarra
My original Malian name from my home stay village. The name of my cat.  While this is a girl's name, Babi as he has come to be known is very much a male cat.
Concession is the word for the whole of someone's 'house' including any buildings and the courtyard. This is typically walled in. People don't necessarily spend much time inside the buildings, but instead treat the whole courtyard as their home, eating and socializing primarily out of doors.
Close of Service, which I will probably do in September of 2011 or near to then.
Both man and husband. Also used in relationship words like older and younger brother.
Donni donni (dɔɔni dɔɔni)
Bambara for small small which means everything from 'slow down!' to 'little by little'
The chief of the village
One of the boys who lived in my concession in my home stay village, and the one that I spent the most time chatting and practicing Bambara with. Also, Doura's little brother
Someone from my home stay village who speaks English
Early Termination, what it is called when someone leaves the Peace Corps without completing their two years of service without an extenuating circumstance.
Bambara for donkey - both a common means of transport and an insult
"Is here" or "look at this thing I just said" when preceded by a noun
This is an important social activity for Malians, consisting of asking repeatedly after one's health, the health of one's whole family (by name if you know them), and the peacefulness of the preceding time. If someone is ill, has been or is about to travel, has had some kind of life change, or possibly just for the heck of it, you bless them several times.
This includes many wall-less structures that might be called gazebos, sheds, pavilions, or something else entirely that serve to keep sun and rain off of us without slowing down any breezes (or any bugs)
Hehreh (Hεrε, ka su hεrε caya)
Peace / May you have a peaceful night
Home stay
The small village about an 40 minutes outside of Bamako where I lived during some of training.
The person I will work with on just about everything all of the time. He is my go-to person for cultural questions, job questions, and every-day life questions.
I ni tile!
Good day, roughly
My host-father, a rather gruff man who sometimes looks at me as if he has no idea what the hell I'm doing wherever I am, even though I am starting to get into the Malian habit of announcing really obvious actions (like when I carry my empty bucket toward the pump, I tell people I'm going to get water).
Jelly shoes. They're all the rage here. For men. Yup.
The people of wherever precedes it, for example, I grew up as part of Orange County Kaw, even though my house was in Ulster County
kɔrɔba (cεkɔrɔba & musɔkɔrɔba)
Very old (very old man & very old woman) and therefore deserving of respect and deference
The city nearest my site. I go there for my bank, the post office, the gendarme station, to see other volunteers, to use the internet, and to buy cheese.
med unit
The Medical Unit in Bamako, where PCVs go to get patched up or to do regular check-ups with the PCMOs
Medically Separated - what happens when someone has a long-term health issue that can not be dealt with in country, of which there are many
This is the first language of most people in my village. I don't know very much (read: any!) of it yet, but I hope to learn some. The fact that my villagers don't speak Bambara as their mother tongue makes their Bambara very deliberate and slang-free, which I appreciate thoroughly
Bambara for head-scarf, I've really taken to this head-wrapping thing
Both woman and wife. Also used in relationship words like female friend and sister.
My home stay village little sister. She makes delicious food!
Nyegen (ŋεgεn)
This is Bambara for latrine. Basically this means a pit with a slab over it behind a wall. You do your business into the hole in the slab, although often urine simply runs out of the nyegen into the streets. This is called nyegen-ji or latrine-water. This is why soak-pits are so important
Oral Re-hydration Salts - basically water, sugar, and salt. Period. Ick. However, with the heat and basically any kind of disease, it's very easy to get dehydrated and end up needing some.
Peace Corps
Peace Corps Medical Officers
One of my best friends in village, who is unfortunately not actually in village any more, as she has gone off to work in a school 50km outside Koutiala in another direction.
Risky Business
The name of my stage, or the sixty-something people I swore in as a volunteer with
Basically, a salidaga is a plastic teapot filled with water that is the basic sanitation method used instead of toilet paper here. This is why washing ones hands with soap is such an essential thing to do.
My homologue (see homologue), who has 4 kids, an awesome wife, and a really nice old mother who blesses me rapidly every time I visit.
The small village, 30 kilometers outside of Koutiala when I live and work.
A telephone-through-internet service that I use. If you should need to get in touch with me urgently, I recommend using Skype to text-message my Malian cell phone with a call-back number, which I will respond to within 24 hours, probably. Also, we can video chat when I am in Koutiala, if you need to see me to believe that I'm still ok.
Soak Pit
Soak pits are basically 2 cubic meter covered holes filled with big rocks (bigger than your head) where water is piped in and allowed to infiltrate slowly without puddling in the street or providing mosquito breeding grounds. In my training facebook album I have a few pictures of soak-pit construction.
The name of my home stay village
A 'class' of volunteers. This is a French word pronounced staaj. Each year the previous year's volunteers give the new stage a name. I am in the 2009 stage, and we are called Risky Business.
Stage House
Someplace to sleep when I go to my banking town, also to get internet, talk to another volunteer, get a real shower, and use a real stove/oven.
Bambara for a wrap skirt. Also called a pagne.
Someone with the same name as you. I chose my jatigimusɔ's name when I moved to my village so my host mom is my tɔgɔma's (Ane also). She's the sort of little old woman who doesn't put up with nonsense, but is easy to please with little gestures of appreciation.
The boss of whatever precedes it (for example, I am often considered he Excel-tigi… I even keep this glossary in Excel)
What Malians call white people, especially French people, the French language is even called Toubabakan sometimes
The training center Peace Corps uses. It is extremely similar to summer camp with huts for sleeping in (although no bunk-beds), a dining hall (called the refectoire, usually), a medical office, classrooms, a small library, and many hangars for learning under.
w is added at the end of words to make them plural the way we add s
Waari (tan, mugan, bi-naani, kεmε, mille)
Money. They use a base-5 system that means a kεmε is 500 cfa and worth about one USD. The thing is that kεmε means '100'. Don't think too much about it, because you'll get a headache. I certainly do.
West African Invitational Softball Tournament - Many PCVs from all over West Africa go to this event in Senegal every February. Since I haven't been here for one yet, that's all I really know.
Water and Sanitation, my Peace Corps Sector, basically consisting of soak pit building and teaching people about hand washing
My permanent site, a village of around 1000 people with one India-Mali pump and a lot of sketchy wells, two dams, very very few soak pits, a few solar panels, a really big church, and zillions of mango trees