Wolof is a language spoken in Senegal and Mauritania. It is a Senegambian language belonging to the Atlantic languages branch, a subgroup of the Niger-Congolese language family. Gambian Wolof is intelligible with it, but different enough to be classified separately.
Wolof has official language status in Senegal, Mauritania and the Gambia. It is understood by nearly 90% of the population in Senghor, while Wolof represent less than half of the country's inhabitants. It thus plays a role as an inter-ethnic lingua franca. 13% of speakers speak this language in the Gambia, three points more than the ethnic group of the same name. In Mauritania, about 22% of speakers are estimated to speak it, mainly in Nouakchott and the Senegal River region. Wolofon communities are established in other West African countries such as Guinea and Mali. In addition, Wolof is used as a language of communication in the diaspora in Europe and the United States. A 1975 statistical study showed that the vast majority of the population spoke it as a first, second or third language. Wolof has long been written with a completed Arabic alphabet called Wolofal. This script is still sometimes used in religious texts, but Wolof now uses the Latin alphabet with special conventions to respect the particular sounds of Wolof.