Garay script for Wolof

Ian James
© March 2012

script name

The Garay script was invented by Assane Faye of Senegāl in 1961, for writing the Wolof language. It runs right-to-left like Arabic, and some of the shapes are reminiscent of Arabic. The name refers to “the whiteness of cotton flower”.


The consonants are written as standalone letters and are not joined as in Arabic. There is a mark above some to show pre-nasalization. The letter labeled alif is used like its counterpart in Arabic, coming before an initial vowel. Extra to the standard Wolof set is /ħ/, available for Arabic loan words. Lacking is /q/, but /k/ may suffice for that. Also lacking is /nk/, but that may easily be formed with a mark above, like /mb/ etc. For each consonant there is also a “capital” letter, which has a large loop coming from the left or right side of the form shown here. Examples of D and N can be seen in the sample text below; they are usually sentence-initial only.

consonants of Garay

Vowels & other marks

Garay is unusual with respect to the writing of vowels. Four of the ten vowels are written with a single mark, the others are written as various combinations of those with alif. Vowel // is schwa, and those transliterated with acute are closed vowels. There are no diphthongs.

vowels of Garay

To show that a consonant is to be doubled, a circumflex mark is put upon it (working like the shadda of Arabic). In ambiguous cases (such as final /nd/ in the sample text below), it is necessary to show that no vowel follows; then a mark like Arabic sukun is written after. To show that a vowel is to be long, a horizontal is written after it.

other marks of Garay


numerals of Garay


This is a Wolof translation of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written with the Garay script (Wolof text from Omniglot):

Doomi aadama ypp danuy juddu,
yam ci tawfeex ci sag ak sa-sa.
Nekk na it ku xam dgg te nd na ak
xelam, te war naa jflante ak nawleen,
te teg ko ci wllu mbokk.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

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All material on this page © Ian James, unless otherwise stated.
Last modified Jun.11,2013