What language is "Mali"?

Anybody know what language might be meant by Mali, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prayer_Cycle

My searches are just turning up “languages of Mali” none of which are obviously called Mali.

Wikipedia and other sources give Bambara as the most common national language by a wide margin.

That looks like an interesting release.

I believe ‘Mali’ on that page references to Salif Keita.
He is from Mali, but Mali is not a language, it has French as official language, and at least ten other languages that are used depending on the region.
For as far as I know Salif Keita usually sings in Mande languages.
Yes, that’s plural. :wink:
So if you want it more specific, it’s further down the rabbit hole for you…


Mah Damba is also from Mali, just to complicate things further…

Well, that’s… interesting. The liner notes are clearly listing languages for other performers. Alanis Morissette, Linda Ronstadt, etc…

Salif Keita was born in a Mande speaking region.


But who knows, perhaps on this specific track he decided to sing in Dutch?

The liner notes for this release are here, though a little hard to read: https://beta.musicbrainz.org/release/37ea818a-698a-4357-beed-2247f1f40f75/cover-art

But here’s the annotation containing the complete track credits. And yes, it is Salif Keita and Mah Damba who are credited as “Mali”. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that there’s some inconsistency in what it means. Will have to dig deeper, as you say.

  1. Alanis Morissette (Hungarian); Salif Keita (Mali); The English Chamber Chorus (Swahili); Text and translation from Hungarian by Alanis Morissette
  2. Perry Farrell (Personal Chant); Richard Bona (Dwala); Yungchen Lhamo (Tibetan); Liz Constantine (Personal Chant); The American Boychoir (German); The English Chamber Chorus (German)
  3. Alanis Morissette (French); The American Boychoir featuring Devin Provenzano
  4. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Urdu); Mah Damba (Mali); The English Chamber Chorus (Latin)
  5. James Taylor (English); John Williams, Guitar; The English Chamber Chorus (Italian); Vocal Melody by: Michael Sherwood; Guitar Arrangement: Bill Kannengiser
  6. Salif Keita (Mali); Alanis Morissette (French); English Chamber Choir (French); Text and translation from French by Alanis Morissette
  7. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Urdu); Ofra Haza (Hebrew); Martin Tillman, Processed Cello; Ethan James, Hurdy Gurdy; The English Chamber Chorus (French)
  8. Linda Ronstadt (Spanish); Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Urdu); Martin Tillman, Processed Cello; The American Boychoir featuring Devin Provenzano; The English Chamber Chorus (German); Spanish Lyric Translation: Gustavo Santaolalla
  9. Alanis Morissette (Hungarian); Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Urdu); The English Chamber Chorus (German)

So in fact the liner notes for Salif Keita mention the country that he is from, and for all the others it mentions the language that they are singing in.

So I am guessing (but be aware that I have no editor skills/experience) either the language should be left blank or unknown for him, or some annotation “language erroneously referenced as ‘Mali’” could be entered.

But I believe ‘Mande’ would be a very safe bet.
But I have no idea how MB has categorized languages, and if Mande is a valid option though.


Parking this for reference because it mentions him singing in a particular dialect, although that might not apply to this release: http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/culture/keita.htm

Looks like Bambara is in the Mande language family, and so is Malinke, which is mentioned in the article I just posted. Manding appears to be the farthest up the language tree that MusicBrainz goes (although listed as Mandingo, which may be incorrect?)

No, it’s another language in the same family: Mandinka language - Wikipedia

Sigh. I think I’m gonna leave this one alone for now. May revisit when i have more time.

Putting this information in the annotation is probably the safest course of action. There is a chance these singers are multilingual too, considering they live in a country with so many different languages (and they might not be singing their own work either).

It’s really an annoying lack of respect by the people who made the booklet, isn’t it?


Yeah, I’m rolling my eyes pretty hard


Perhaps it is artist’s intent and a way to promote his motherland.

Also, if I see ‘Mali’ I have some idea about how the singing will sound.
If they would have written the exact language/dialect, I and most people wouldn’t have a clue where that came from or how it sounds.

So this is probably an example of a small clash between archiving librarians vs. the more creative human and less ‘digital’ world.
They don’t always play nice together…

(and smart librarians will figure it out anyway :wink: )

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We’ll just need to find a librarian who understands all languages spoken in Mali to give it a listen. :stuck_out_tongue:

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I’m sure there is a Google algorithm right around the corner for that…
Picard coders, be prepared to integrate…

I tried that once with a Senegalese artist and the African studies librarian where i worked at the time. But he was from Kenya, and could only offer a little more info than i already had.

(I didn’t expect him to actually know the language, but I did hope maybe he knew a little more about the dialects, etc)

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