Bantu languages
Overview
 
The Bantu languages constitute a traditional sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages
Niger–Congo languages
The Niger–Congo languages constitute one of the world's major language families, and Africa's largest in terms of geographical area, number of speakers, and number of distinct languages. They may constitute the world's largest language family in terms of distinct languages, although this question...

. There are about 250 Bantu languages by the criterion of mutual intelligibility
Mutual intelligibility
In linguistics, mutual intelligibility is recognized as a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related languages can readily understand each other without intentional study or extraordinary effort...

, though the distinction between language and dialect is often unclear, and Ethnologue
Ethnologue
Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web and print publication of SIL International , a Christian linguistic service organization, which studies lesser-known languages, to provide the speakers with Bibles in their native language and support their efforts in language development.The Ethnologue...

counts 535 languages. Bantu languages are spoken largely east and south of the present day country of Cameroon
Cameroon
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

; i.e., in the regions commonly known as central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

, east Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

, and southern Africa
Southern Africa
Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa ; nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.-UN...

. Parts of the Bantu area include languages from other language families (see map).

According to Ethnologue
Ethnologue
Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web and print publication of SIL International , a Christian linguistic service organization, which studies lesser-known languages, to provide the speakers with Bibles in their native language and support their efforts in language development.The Ethnologue...

, several Bantu languages are among the most widely-spoken languages in Africa, including Shona
Shona language
Shona is a Bantu language, native to the Shona people of Zimbabwe and southern Zambia; the term is also used to identify peoples who speak one of the Shona language dialects: Zezuru, Karanga, Manyika, Ndau and Korekore...

, and Zulu
Zulu language
Zulu is the language of the Zulu people with about 10 million speakers, the vast majority of whom live in South Africa. Zulu is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa as well as being understood by over 50% of the population...

.
Encyclopedia
The Bantu languages constitute a traditional sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages
Niger–Congo languages
The Niger–Congo languages constitute one of the world's major language families, and Africa's largest in terms of geographical area, number of speakers, and number of distinct languages. They may constitute the world's largest language family in terms of distinct languages, although this question...

. There are about 250 Bantu languages by the criterion of mutual intelligibility
Mutual intelligibility
In linguistics, mutual intelligibility is recognized as a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related languages can readily understand each other without intentional study or extraordinary effort...

, though the distinction between language and dialect is often unclear, and Ethnologue
Ethnologue
Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web and print publication of SIL International , a Christian linguistic service organization, which studies lesser-known languages, to provide the speakers with Bibles in their native language and support their efforts in language development.The Ethnologue...

counts 535 languages. Bantu languages are spoken largely east and south of the present day country of Cameroon
Cameroon
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

; i.e., in the regions commonly known as central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

, east Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

, and southern Africa
Southern Africa
Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa ; nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.-UN...

. Parts of the Bantu area include languages from other language families (see map).

According to Ethnologue
Ethnologue
Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web and print publication of SIL International , a Christian linguistic service organization, which studies lesser-known languages, to provide the speakers with Bibles in their native language and support their efforts in language development.The Ethnologue...

, several Bantu languages are among the most widely-spoken languages in Africa, including Shona
Shona language
Shona is a Bantu language, native to the Shona people of Zimbabwe and southern Zambia; the term is also used to identify peoples who speak one of the Shona language dialects: Zezuru, Karanga, Manyika, Ndau and Korekore...

, and Zulu
Zulu language
Zulu is the language of the Zulu people with about 10 million speakers, the vast majority of whom live in South Africa. Zulu is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa as well as being understood by over 50% of the population...

. The Bantu language with the largest total number of speakers is Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

. It has over 80 million speakers across eight countries and this number is growing. Shona alone has an estimated 10.8 million speakers in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

. Zulu comes second with 10.3 million speakers. Ethnologue lists Manyika and Ndau as separate languages, though Shona speakers consider them to be two of the five main dialects of Shona. If the 3.4 million Manyika and Ndau speakers are included among the Shona, then Shona totals 14.2 million first-language speakers.

Bantu languages are believed to have originated in the general Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 and Cameroon
Cameroon
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

 area of West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

. Between 2500–3000 years ago, speakers of the original proto-Bantu language group began a millennia-long series of migrations eastward and southward. This agricultural Bantu expansion
Bantu expansion
The Bantu expansion or the Bantu Migration was a millennia-long series of migrations of speakers of the original proto-Bantu language group...

 is suggested to have played a significant role in populating the Sub-Saharan region, an area where Bantu peoples now constitute a dominant population element.

The technical term Bantu, simply meaning "people", was first used by Wilhelm Heinrich Immanuel Bleek (1827–1875), as this is reflected in many of the languages of this group. A common characteristic of Bantu languages is that they use words such as muntu or mutu for "person", and the plural prefix for human nouns starting with mu- (class 1) in most languages is ba- (class 2), thus giving bantu for "people". Bleek, and later Carl Meinhof
Carl Meinhof
Carl Friedrich Michael Meinhof was a German linguist and one of the first linguists to study African languages.-Early years and career:...

, pursued extensive studies comparing the grammatical structures of Bantu languages.

Classification

The term 'narrow Bantu' was coined by the Benue–Congo Working Group to distinguish Bantu as recognized by Malcolm Guthrie
Malcolm Guthrie
Malcolm Guthrie , professor of Bantu languages, is known primarily for his classification of Bantu languages...

 in his seminal 1948 classification of the Bantu languages from Bantoid languages
Bantoid languages
In the classification of African languages, Bantoid is a branch of the Benue–Congo subfamily of the Niger–Congo phylum. The term 'Bantoid' was first used by Krause in 1895 for languages that showed resemblances in vocabulary to Bantu...

 not recognized as Bantu by Guthrie (1948). In recent times, the distinctness of Narrow Bantu as opposed to the other Southern Bantoid groups has been called into doubt (cf. Piron 1995, Williamson & Blench 2000, Blench 2011), but the term is still widely used. A coherent classification of Narrow Bantu will likely need to exclude many of the Zone A and perhaps Zone B languages.

There is no genealogical classification of the (Narrow) Bantu languages. The most widely used system, the alphanumeric coding system developed by Guthrie, is mainly geographic. However, based on reflexes of proto-Bantu tone patterns, zones A–C and part of D are grouped together as Northwest Bantu
Northwest Bantu
The Northwest Bantu or Forest Bantu languages are those Narrow Bantu languages which fall outside Central Savannah Bantu. They are the most diverse group of Bantu languages...

 (or Forest Bantu), and zones D–S as Central Bantu (or Savanna Bantu). Northwest Bantu is more divergent internally than Central Bantu, and perhaps less conservative
Conservative (language)
In linguistics, a conservative form, variety, or modality is one that has changed relatively little over its history, or which is relatively resistant to change...

 due to contact with non-Bantu Niger–Congo languages; however, Central Bantu is likely the innovative line cladistically, with Northwest being the non-Central languages, not a family in their own right. Most attempted classifications are problematic as they consider only languages which happen to fall within traditional Narrow Bantu, rather than South Bantoid, which has been established, as a whole.

The only attempt at a detailed genetic classification to replace the Guthrie system is the 1999 "Tervuren" proposal of Bastin, Coupez, and Mann. However, it relies on lexicostatistics
Lexicostatistics
Lexicostatistics is an approach to comparative linguistics that involves quantitative comparison of lexical cognates. Lexicostatistics is related to the comparative method but does not reconstruct a proto-language...

, which, because it relies on similarity, rather than shared innovations
Synapomorphy
In cladistics, a synapomorphy or synapomorphic character is a trait that is shared by two or more taxa and their most recent common ancestor, whose ancestor in turn does not possess the trait. A synapomorphy is thus an apomorphy visible in multiple taxa, where the trait in question originates in...

, can lead to grouping together conservative languages which are not closely related
Polyphyly
A polyphyletic group is one whose members' last common ancestor is not a member of the group.For example, the group consisting of warm-blooded animals is polyphyletic, because it contains both mammals and birds, but the most recent common ancestor of mammals and birds was cold-blooded...

. Meanwhile, Ethnologue
Ethnologue
Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web and print publication of SIL International , a Christian linguistic service organization, which studies lesser-known languages, to provide the speakers with Bibles in their native language and support their efforts in language development.The Ethnologue...

has added languages to the Guthrie classification that Guthrie overlooked, while removing the Mbam languages
Mbam languages
The Mbam languages are a group of erstwhile zone-A Bantu languages which some lexicostatistical studies suggest are not actually Bantu, but related Southern Bantoid languages. Janssens posited that they are all of Guthrie's zone A.60 languages, half of his A.40 languages, and perhaps Bube...

 (much of zone A), and shifting some languages between groups (much of zones D and E to a new zone J, for example, and part of zone L to K, and part of M to F) in an apparent effort at a semi-genetic, or at least semi-areal, classification. However, zone S (Southern Bantu) does appear to be a coherent group. The languages which share Dahl's Law
Dahl's Law
Dahl's Law is a sound rule of Northeast Bantu languages, a case of voicing dissimilation. In the history of these languages, a voiceless stop, such as , became voiced when immediately followed by a syllable with another voiceless stop...

 may also form a valid group, Northeast Bantu
Northeast Bantu
The Northeast Bantu languages are a group of Bantu languages of East African which share a phonological innovation called Dahl's Law that is unlikely to be borrowed...

. The development of a rigorous genealogical classification of many subdivisions of Niger–Congo, not just Bantu, is hampered by insufficient data. Production of publications on all African languages has been spasmodic and many have never been documented at all, although no doubt used, valued, and celebrated as a mark of identity by those who speak them.

Language structure

Guthrie reconstructed both the phonemic inventory and the core vocabulary of Proto-Bantu.

The most prominent grammatical
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

 characteristic of Bantu languages is the extensive use of affix
Affix
An affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes...

es (see Sotho grammar
Sesotho grammar
This article presents a brief overview of the grammar of the Sesotho language and provides links to more detailed articles.-Typology:The Sesotho language may be described in several ways depending on the aspect being considered....

 and Ganda noun classes for detailed discussions of these affixes). Each noun belongs to a class
Noun class
In linguistics, the term noun class refers to a system of categorizing nouns. A noun may belong to a given class because of characteristic features of its referent, such as sex, animacy, shape, but counting a given noun among nouns of such or another class is often clearly conventional...

, and each language may have several numbered classes, somewhat like genders in European languages. The class is indicated by a prefix that's part of the noun, as well as agreement markers on verb and qualificative roots connected with the noun. Plural is indicated by a change of class, with a resulting change of prefix.

The verb has a number of prefixes, though in the western languages these are often treated as independent words. In Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

, for example, Mtoto mdogo amekisoma, (also Kamwana kadoko kariverenga in Shona language
Shona language
Shona is a Bantu language, native to the Shona people of Zimbabwe and southern Zambia; the term is also used to identify peoples who speak one of the Shona language dialects: Zezuru, Karanga, Manyika, Ndau and Korekore...

) means 'The small child has read it [a book]'. Mtoto 'child' governs the adjective prefix m- and the verb subject prefix a-. Then comes perfect tense -me- and an object marker -ki- agreeing with implicit kitabu 'book'. Pluralizing to 'children' gives Watoto wadogo wamekisoma (Vana vadoko variverenga in Shona), and plural
Plural
In linguistics, plurality or [a] plural is a concept of quantity representing a value of more-than-one. Typically applied to nouns, a plural word or marker is used to distinguish a value other than the default quantity of a noun, which is typically one...

izing to 'books' (vitabu) gives Watoto wadogo wamevisoma.

Bantu words are typically made up of open syllables of the type CV (consonant-vowel) with most languages having syllables exclusively of this type. The Bushong language
Bushong language
Bushong is a Bantu language of the Kasai region of Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was the language of the Kuba Kingdom.Alternative names are Bushongo, Busoong, Shongo, Ganga, Kuba, Mbale, Bamongo, Mongo....

 recorded by Vansina, however, has final consonants, while slurring of the final syllable (though written) is reported as common among the Tonga
Tonga language
Tonga refers to four different languages:*Tonga language – a Bantu language spoken in Zambia and Zimbabwe*Tonga language – a Bantu language spoken in Malawi...

 of Malawi. The morphological shape of Bantu words is typically CV, VCV, CVCV, VCVCV, etc.; that is, any combination of CV (with possibly a V- syllable at the start). In other words, a strong claim for this language family is that almost all words end in a vowel, precisely because closed syllables (CVC) are not permissible in most of the documented languages, as far as we are aware. This tendency to avoid consonant cluster
Consonant cluster
In linguistics, a consonant cluster is a group of consonants which have no intervening vowel. In English, for example, the groups and are consonant clusters in the word splits....

s is some positions is important when words are imported from English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 or other non-Bantu languages. An example from Chichewa: the word "school", borrowed from English, and then transformed to fit the sound patterns of this language, is sukulu. That is, sk- has been broken up by inserting an epenthetic
Epenthesis
In phonology, epenthesis is the addition of one or more sounds to a word, especially to the interior of a word. Epenthesis may be divided into two types: excrescence, for the addition of a consonant, and anaptyxis for the addition of a vowel....

 -u-; -u has also been added at the end of the word. Another example is buledi for "bread". Similar effects are seen in loanwords for other non-African CV languages like Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

. However, a clustering of sounds at the beginning of a syllable can be readily observed in such languages as Shona, and the Makhuwa variants.

Reduplication

Reduplication
Reduplication
Reduplication in linguistics is a morphological process in which the root or stem of a word is repeated exactly or with a slight change....

 is a common morphological phenomenon in Bantu languages and is usually used to indicate frequency or intensity of the action signalled by the (unreduplicated) verb stem http://www.african.gu.se/aa/pdfs/aa02004.pdf
  • Example: in Swahili piga means "strike", pigapiga means "strike repeatedly".


Well-known words and names that have reduplication include
  • Bafana Bafana
  • Chipolopolo
  • Eric Djemba-Djemba
    Eric Djemba-Djemba
    Eric Daniel Djemba-Djemba is a Cameroonian footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder for Danish side Odense BK and the Cameroon national football team. He has previously played club football in France, England and Qatar.-Nantes:...

  • Lualua
    Lomana LuaLua
    Lomana Trésor LuaLua is a Congolese footballer who plays for Blackpool, and the Congo DR national football team.LuaLua was born in Kinshasa, but moved to England at a young age. After impressing in a college football match, he signed for Colchester United. There, he scored a total of 21 goals in...

  • Ngorongoro
  • Polepole (Swahili for slowly, or slowly-slowly). – In swahili pole means sorry, to express sympathy.
  • Haraka-haraka (Swahili for quickly, or quickly-quickly, compare with vite-vite in French, that has the approximate meaning to 'fast-fast' in English).

Repetition emphasizes the repeated word in the context that it is used. For instance, "Mwenda pole hajikwai," while, "Pole pole ndio mwendo," has two to emphasize the consistency of slowness of the pace. The meaning of the former in translation is, "He who goes slowly doesn't trip," and that of the latter is, "A slow but steady pace wins the race." Haraka haraka would mean hurrying just for the sake of hurrying, reckless hurry, as in "Njoo! Haraka haraka" [come here! Hurry, hurry].

On the contrary to the above definition, there are some words in some of the languages in which reduplication has the opposite meaning. It usually denotes short durations, and or lower intensity of the action and also means a few repetitions or a little bit more.
  • Example 1: in isiZulu and SiSwati hamba means "go", hambahamba means "go-go meaning go a little bit, but not much".

  • Example 2: in both of the above languages shaya means "strike", shayashaya means "strike-strike, meaning strike a few more times lightly, but not heavy strikes and not too many times"

Notable Bantu languages

Following are the principal Bantu languages of each country. Included are those languages that constitute at least 1% of the population and have at least 10% the number of speakers of the largest Bantu language in the country.

Most languages are best known in English without the class prefix (Swahili, Tswana, Ndebele), but are sometimes seen with the (language-specific) prefix (Kiswahili, Setswana, Sindebele). In a few cases prefixes are used to distinguish languages with the same root in their name, such as Tshiluba and Kiluba (both Luba), Umbundu
Umbundu
South Mbundu, or Umbundu, is a language spoken by the Southern Mbundu people - now generally referred to by the way they call themselves, Ovimbundu - in the central highlands of Angola. Umbundu is the most widespread Bantu language in Angola. About one third of Angola is represented by Ovimbundu...

 and Kimbundu
Kimbundu
North Mbundu, or Kimbundu, one of two Bantu languages called Mbundu is one of the most widely spoken Bantu languages in Angola, concentrated in the north-west of the country, notably in the Luanda Province, the Bengo Province and the Malanje Province...

 (both Mbundu). The bare (prefixless) form typically does not occur in the language itself, but is the basis for other words based on the ethnicity. So, in the country of Botswana
Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

 the people are the Batswana, one person is a Motswana, and the language is Setswana; and in Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

, centred on the kingdom of Buganda
Buganda
Buganda is a subnational kingdom within Uganda. The kingdom of the Ganda people, Buganda is the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda, comprising all of Uganda's Central Region, including the Ugandan capital Kampala, with the exception of the disputed eastern Kayunga District...

, the dominant ethnicity are the Baganda
Baganda
The Ganda are an ethnic group native to Buganda, a subnational kingdom within Uganda. Traditionally comprising 52 tribes the Ganda have a rich history and culture...

(sg. Muganda), whose language is Luganda.
Lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

  • Swahili
    Swahili language
    Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

     (Kiswahili) (350,000; tens of millions as L2)


Angola
  • South Mbundu (Umbundu) (4 million)
  • North Mbundu
    North Mbundu language
    North Mbundu, or Kimbundu, one of two Bantu languages called Mbundu is one of the most widely spoken Bantu languages in Angola, concentrated in the north-west of the country, notably in the Luanda Province, the Bengo Province and the Malanje Province...

     (Kimbundu) (3 million)
  • Ovambo (Ambo) (Oshiwambo) (500,000)
  • Luvale
    Luvale language
    Luvale is a Bantu language spoken by the Lovale people of Angola and Zambia. It is recognized as a regional language for educational and administrative purposes in Zambia, where about 168,000 people speak it.Luvale is closely related to Chokwe.-External links:**...

     (Chiluvale) (500,000)
  • Chokwe
    Chokwe language
    Chokwe is the Bantu language spoken by the Chokwe people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola and Zambia. It is recognized as a national language of Angola, where about 456,000 people spoke it as of 1991. Another half a million speakers lived in the Congo in 1990, and some 44,200 in...

     (Chichokwe) (500,000)


Botswana
  • Tswana
    Tswana language
    Tswana or Setswana is a language spoken in Southern Africa by about 4.5 million people. It is a Bantu language belonging to the Niger–Congo language family within the Sotho languages branch of Zone S , and is closely related to the Northern- and Southern Sotho languages, as well as the Kgalagadi...

     (Setswana) (1 million)
  • Kalanga (Ikalanga) (150,000)


Burundi
  • Kirundi
    Kirundi
    Kirundi, also known as Rundi, is a dialect of the Rwanda-Rundi language spoken by some 8.7 million people in Burundi and adjacent parts of Tanzania and Congo-Kinshasa, as well as in Uganda. It is the official language of Burundi...

     (5 million)


Cameroon
  • Beti
    Beti language
    Beti is a language, or group of Bantu languages, spoken by the Beti-Pahuin group of people, who inhabit the rain forest regions of Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and São Tomé and Príncipe....

     (1.7 million: 900,000 Bulu
    Bulu language
    Bulu is the language of the Bulu people of Cameroon. The language had 174,000 native speakers in 1982, with some 800,000 second language speakers in 1991. Colonial and missionary groups formerly used Bulu as a lingua franca in the region for commercial, educational, and religious purposes, though...

    , 600,000 Ewondo
    Ewondo language
    Ewondo is the language of the Ewondo people of Cameroon. The language had 577,700 native speakers in 1982. Ewondo is a trade language. Dialects include Badjia , Bafeuk, Bamvele , Bane, Beti, Enoah, Evouzok, Fong, Mbida-Bani, Mvete, Mvog-Niengue, Omvang, Yabekolo , Yabeka, and Yabekanga...

    , 120,000 Fang
    Fang language
    Fang is the dominant Bantu language of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. It is related to the Bulu and Ewondo languages of southern Cameroon. Fang is spoken in northern Gabon, southern Cameroon, and throughout Equatorial Guinea. Shakira used this language in her song, "Waka Waka .".There are many...

    , 60,000 Eton
    Eton language
    Eton, or Iton, is a Bantu language spoken by the Eton people of Cameroon. The exact number of Eton speakers is unknown, although Ethnologue cites 52,000 speakers based on a 1982 estimate by SIL...

    , 30,000 Bebele)
  • Basaa
    Basaa language
    Basaa is a Bantu language spoken in Cameroon. It is spoken by about 230,000 people in Centre and Littoral provinces.-Vowels:-Consonants:...

     (230,000)
  • Duala
    Duala language
    Duala is the language spoken by the Duala people of Cameroon. The language belonges to the Bantu language family, and a subgroup of it called the Duala languages...

     (350,000)


Central African Republic
  • Mbati
    Mbati language
    Mbati, also known as Songo, is the principal Bantu language spoken in the Central African Republic, along the Ubangi River in the extreme south of the country.-External links:**...

     (60,000)


Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa)
  • Lingala (Ngala)
    Lingala language
    Lingala, or Ngala, is a Bantu language spoken throughout the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a large part of the Republic of the Congo , as well as to some degree in Angola and the Central African Republic. It has over 10 million speakers...

     (2 million; 7 million with L2 speakers)
  • Luba-Kasai (Tshiluba) (6.5 million)
  • Kituba
    Kituba
    Kituba is a widely used lingua franca in Central Africa. It is a creole language based on Kikongo, a family of closely related Bantu languages. It is an official language in Congo-Brazzaville and Congo-Kinshasa....

     (4.5 million), a Bantu creole
  • Kongo
    Kongo language
    The Kongo language, or Kikongo, is the Bantu language spoken by the Bakongo and Bandundu people living in the tropical forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Angola. It is a tonal language and formed the base for Kituba, a Bantu creole and lingua franca...

     (Kikongo) (3.5 million)
  • Luba-Katanga
    Luba-Katanga language
    Luba-Katanga, also known as Luba-Shaba and Kiluba, is one of two major Bantu language spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo called "Luba". It is spoken mostly in the south-east area of the country by the Luba people....

     (Kiluba) (1.5+ million)
  • Songe
    Songe language
    Songe, also known as Songye, Lusonge, Yembe, and Northeast Luba, is a Bantu language spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo....

     (Lusonge) (1+ million)
  • Nande
    Nande language
    Nande, also known as Ndandi and Yira, is a Bantu language spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.The Nande of Congo and the Konjo people of Uganda are a single ethnic group, which they call Yira . They trace their origins to the Ruwenzori Mountains between the two countries. The languages...

     (Orundandi) (1 million)
  • Tetela
    Tetela language
    Tetela , also Sungu, is a Bantu language of northern Kasai-Oriental Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is a member of the Tetela family of Bantu languages and is closely related to Nkutu, Kusu, and Yela....

     (Otetela) (800,000)
  • Yaka
    Yaka language
    Yaka, also spelled Iaca and Iyaka, is a Bantu language spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola. There are two dialects, Yaka proper and Ngoongo.- External links:* *...

     (Iyaka) (700,000+)
  • Shi (700,000)
  • Yombe (Kiyombe) (670,000)


Equatorial Guinea
  • Beti
    Beti language
    Beti is a language, or group of Bantu languages, spoken by the Beti-Pahuin group of people, who inhabit the rain forest regions of Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and São Tomé and Príncipe....

     (Fang
    Fang language
    Fang is the dominant Bantu language of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. It is related to the Bulu and Ewondo languages of southern Cameroon. Fang is spoken in northern Gabon, southern Cameroon, and throughout Equatorial Guinea. Shakira used this language in her song, "Waka Waka .".There are many...

    ) (300,000)
  • Bube (40,000)


Kenya
  • Gikuyu
    Gikuyu language
    Gikuyu or Kikuyu is a language of the Bantu family spoken primarily by the Kikuyu people of Kenya. Numbering about 6 million , they are the largest ethnic group in Kenya. Gikuyu is spoken in the area between Nyeri and Nairobi. Gikuyu is one of the five languages of the Thagichu subgroup of the...

     (7 million)
  • Luhya (5.4 million)
  • Kamba (4 million)
  • Meru
    Meru language
    Meru is the language spoken by the Meru people who live on the Eastern and Northern slopes of Mount Kenya, Kenya, Africa and on the Nyambene ranges. They settled in this area after centuries of migration from the north.-Tradition:...

     (Kimeru) (2.7 million)
  • Gusii
    Gusii language
    The Gusii language is a Bantu language spoken in the Kisii district in western Kenya,whose head-quarters is Kisii town, . It is spoken by the Gusii people, numbering about 1.5 million...

     (2 million)


Lesotho
  • Sotho (Sesotho) (1.8 million)
  • Zulu
    Zulu language
    Zulu is the language of the Zulu people with about 10 million speakers, the vast majority of whom live in South Africa. Zulu is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa as well as being understood by over 50% of the population...

     (Isizulu) (300,000)


Malawi
  • Chewa (Nyanja) (Chichewa) (7 million)
  • Tumbuka
    Tumbuka language
    The Tumbuka language is a Bantu language which is spoken in parts of Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania.The language of the Tumbuka people is called chiTumbuka — the chi- marker in front of Tumbuka means “thing”, “concept”, and is understood in this case “the language of ”...

     (1 million)
  • Yao (1 million)


Mozambique
  • Makhuwa (3 million; 5.5 million all Makua
    Makua languages
    The Makhuwa or Makua languages are a branch of Bantu languages spoken primarily in Mozambique.-Name:The name Makua , more accurately Makhuwa, is used on three levels. Some sources distinguish these with differences in spelling 'Makua' vs...

    )
  • Tsonga
    Tsonga language
    The Tsonga or Xitsonga language is spoken in southern Africa by the Tsonga people, also known as the Shangaan.- Classification :Tsonga belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger–Congo languages...

     (Xitsonga) (1.7 million)
  • Shona (Ndau)
    Ndau language
    Ndau is one of the Shona dialects. It is spoken by people from the region of Chipinge...

     (1.6 million)
  • Lomwe
    Lomwe language
    Lomwe is a mixed language spoken in southeastern Malawi.-Background:The Mozambique Lomwe are one of the four largest ethnic groups living in Malawi and have history of migration to the Mozambique–Malawi border zone. Many Lomwe moved into Malawi, where they mixed with the Nyanja, in the 1930s due to...

     (1.5 million)
  • Sena
    Sena language
    The Sena language is spoken in the four provinces of central Mozambique : Tete, Sofala, Zambezia and Manica.There were an estimated 900,000 native Sena speakers in Mozambique in 1997, with at least 1.5 million including those who speak it as second language.Sena is spoken in several dialects, of...

     (1.3 million)
  • Tswa (1.2 million)
  • Chuwabu
    Chuwabu language
    Chuwabo, also known as Cuabo and Txuwabo, is a Bantu language spoken along the central coast of Mozambique.Maindo , though customarily considered a separate language, is close enough to be a dialect of Chuwabo....

     (1.0 million)
  • Chopi
    Chopi language
    Chopi, also spelled Copi, Tschopi, and Txopi, is a Bantu language spoken along the southern coast of Mozambique....

     (800,000)
  • Ronga (700,000)
  • Chewa (Nyanja) (Chichewa) (600,000)
  • Yao (Chiyao) (500,000)
  • Nyungwe
    Nyungwe language
    Nyungwe is a Bantu language of Mozambique. It is used as a trade language....

     (400,000)
  • Tonga
    Tonga language (Zambia)
    The Tonga language of Zambia and Zimbabwe is a Bantu Language primarily spoken by the Tonga people in those countries who live mainly in the Southern and Western provinces of Zambia, and in northern Zimbabwe, with a few in Mozambique. The language is also spoken by the Tonga, Ila, Iwe, Toka and...

     (400,000)
  • Makonde
    Makonde language
    Makonde is the language spoken by the Makonde, an ethnic group in southeast Tanzania and northern Mozambique. Makonde is a central Bantu language closely related to Yao...

     (400,000)


Namibia
  • Ovambo (Ambo, Oshiwambo) (800,000, incl. Kwanyama, Ndongo, Kwambi)
  • Herero
    Herero language
    The Herero language is a language of the Bantu family . It is spoken by the Herero people in Namibia and Botswana...

     (200,000)

Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville)
  • Kituba
    Kituba
    Kituba is a widely used lingua franca in Central Africa. It is a creole language based on Kikongo, a family of closely related Bantu languages. It is an official language in Congo-Brazzaville and Congo-Kinshasa....

     (1.2+ million) [a Bantu creole]
  • Kongo
    Kongo language
    The Kongo language, or Kikongo, is the Bantu language spoken by the Bakongo and Bandundu people living in the tropical forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Angola. It is a tonal language and formed the base for Kituba, a Bantu creole and lingua franca...

     (Kikongo) (1.0 million)
  • Teke languages
    Teke languages
    The Teke languages are a series of Bantu languages spoken by the Teke people in the western Congo and in Gabon. They are coded Zone B.70 in Guthrie's classification...

     (500,000)
  • Yombe (350,000)
  • Suundi (120,000)
  • Mbosi (110,000)
  • Lingala
    Lingala language
    Lingala, or Ngala, is a Bantu language spoken throughout the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a large part of the Republic of the Congo , as well as to some degree in Angola and the Central African Republic. It has over 10 million speakers...

     (100,000; ? L2 speakers)


Rwanda
  • Kinyarwanda (Kinyarwanda) (7 million)


South Africa
  • Zulu
    Zulu language
    Zulu is the language of the Zulu people with about 10 million speakers, the vast majority of whom live in South Africa. Zulu is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa as well as being understood by over 50% of the population...

     (Isizulu) (10 million)
  • Xhosa
    Xhosa language
    Xhosa is one of the official languages of South Africa. Xhosa is spoken by approximately 7.9 million people, or about 18% of the South African population. Like most Bantu languages, Xhosa is a tonal language, that is, the same sequence of consonants and vowels can have different meanings when said...

     (Isixhosa) (8 million)
  • Sotho (Sesotho) (4 million)
  • Pedi (Sepedi) (4 million)
  • Tswana
    Tswana language
    Tswana or Setswana is a language spoken in Southern Africa by about 4.5 million people. It is a Bantu language belonging to the Niger–Congo language family within the Sotho languages branch of Zone S , and is closely related to the Northern- and Southern Sotho languages, as well as the Kgalagadi...

     (Setswana) (3.5 million)
  • Tsonga
    Tsonga language
    The Tsonga or Xitsonga language is spoken in southern Africa by the Tsonga people, also known as the Shangaan.- Classification :Tsonga belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger–Congo languages...

     (Xitsonga) (2 million)
  • Swazi
    Swati language
    The Swazi or Swati language is a Bantu language of the Nguni group spoken in Swaziland and South Africa by the Swazi people. The number of speakers is estimated to be in the region of 3 million. The language is taught in Swaziland and some South African schools in Mpumalanga and KaNgwane areas...

     (Siswati) (1 million)
  • Venda
    Venda language
    Venda, also known as or , is a Bantu language and an official language of South Africa. The majority of Venda speakers live in the northern part of South Africa's Limpopo Province, but about 10% of speakers live in Zimbabwe. The Venda language is related to Kalanga which is spoken in Botswana...

     (Tshivenda) (1 million)


Swaziland
  • Swazi
    Swati language
    The Swazi or Swati language is a Bantu language of the Nguni group spoken in Swaziland and South Africa by the Swazi people. The number of speakers is estimated to be in the region of 3 million. The language is taught in Swaziland and some South African schools in Mpumalanga and KaNgwane areas...

     (Siswati) (1 million)


Tanzania
Swahili is the national language
  • Sukuma
    Sukuma language
    Sukuma is a Bantu language spoken by over five million people in central Tanzania. It forms a dialect continuum with Nyamwezi, but is more distinct from other neighboring languages....

     (5.5 million)
  • Gogo
    Gogo language
    Gogo is a Bantu language spoken by the Gogo people of Dodoma Region in Tanzania. The language is spoken throughout Dodoma Region and into the neighbouring district of Manyoni...

     (1.5 million)
  • Haya
    Haya language
    Haya is a Niger–Congo language spoken by the Haya people of Tanzania, in the south and southwest coast of Lake Victoria. In 1991, the population of Haya speakers was estimated at 1,200,000 people .-References:...

     (Kihaya) (1.3 million)
  • Chaga (Kichaga) (1.2+ million : 600,000 Mochi, 300,000+ Machame, 300,000+ Vunjo)
  • Nyamwezi
    Nyamwezi language
    Nyamwezi is a major Bantu language of central Tanzania. It forms a dialect continuum with Sukuma, but is more distinct from other neighboring languages....

     (1.0 million)
  • Makonde
    Makonde language
    Makonde is the language spoken by the Makonde, an ethnic group in southeast Tanzania and northern Mozambique. Makonde is a central Bantu language closely related to Yao...

     (1.0 million)
  • Ha
    Ha language
    Ha, also known with the Bantu language prefix as Giha, Ikiha, or Kiha, is a Bantu language spoken by the Ha people of the Kigoma region of Tanzania which is closely related to the languages of Rwanda and Burundi; neighboring dialects are mutually intelligible with Kirundi.-External links:* * *...

     (1.0 million)
  • Nyakyusa
    Nyakyusa language
    Nyakyusa, or Nyakyusa–Ngonde, is a Bantu language of Tanzania and Malawi spoken by the Nyakyusa people around the northern end of Lake Malawi. There is no single name for the language as a whole; dialects are Nyakyusa, Ngonde, and Sukwa of Tanzania and Malawi, plus Kukwe, Mwamba , and Selya of...

     (800,000)
  • Hehe
    Hehe language
    Hehe is a Bantu language spoken by the Hehe people of the Iringa region of Tanzania. It was reported to have "Ngoni" features, that is, words of a Zulu-like language introduced when conquered by a Nguni or Zulu-like people in the early 19th century...

     (800,000)
  • Luguru
    Luguru language
    Luguru is a Bantu language spoken by the Luguru people of the Morogoro region of Tanzania. The name is also spelled Lughuru, Lugulu, Ruguru. It is closely related to Gogo and Zaramo, but is not intelligible with other languages....

     (700,000)
  • Bena
    Bena language
    Bena is a Bantu language spoken by the Bena people of the Iringa region of Tanzania....

     (600,000)
  • Shambala (650,000)
  • Nyaturu
    Nyaturu language
    The Turu or Nyaturu language, Kinyaturu, also known as Rimi Kirimi, is a Bantu language of spoken by the Wanyaturu Arimi of the Singida region of Tanzania. Excluding the Bantu language prefixes Ke- and Ki-, other spellings of the language are Limi and Remi...

     (600,000)


Uganda
  • Ganda
    Luganda language
    Ganda, or Luganda , is the major language of Uganda, spoken by over sixteen million Ganda and other people mainly in Southern Uganda, including the capital Kampala. It belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger–Congo language family...

     (Luganda) (7.5 million)
  • Nkore-Kiga (3.5 million : 2.3 million Nyankore, 1.2 million Kiga (Chiga))
  • Soga (Lusoga) (2 million)
  • Masaba
    Masaba language
    Masaba , sometimes known as Gisu after one of its dialects, is a Bantu language spoken by about 1,500,000 people in eastern Uganda in the administrative region of Bugisu on the border to Kenya. The language is closely related to, and mutually intelligible with Bukusu, spoken in western Kenya...

     (Lumasaba) (1.1 million)
  • Nyoro
    Nyoro language
    The Nyoro language is a local language of the Nyoro people of Uganda. It belongs to the Niger–Congo family, Benue–Congo subgroup, Bantu branch . Its Ethnologue code is NYR, ISO 639-2: nyo. It probably has two dialects: Orunyoro and Rutagwenda. A standardized orthography was established in 1947....

    -Tooro (1.1 million)
  • Kinyarwanda (Kinyarwanda) (750,000)
  • Konjo (600,000)
  • Gwere (400,000)


Zambia
  • Bemba
    Bemba language
    The Bemba language, ChiBemba , is a major Bantu language spoken primarily in north-eastern Zambia by the Bemba people and as a lingua franca by about 18 related ethnic groups, including the Bisa people of Mpika and Lake Bangweulu, and to a lesser extent in Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the...

     (3.3 million)
  • Tonga
    Tonga language (Zambia)
    The Tonga language of Zambia and Zimbabwe is a Bantu Language primarily spoken by the Tonga people in those countries who live mainly in the Southern and Western provinces of Zambia, and in northern Zimbabwe, with a few in Mozambique. The language is also spoken by the Tonga, Ila, Iwe, Toka and...

     (1.0 million)
  • Chewa (Nyanja) (Chichewa) (800,000)
  • Lozi
    Lozi language
    Lozi, also known as siLozi and Rozi, is a Bantu language of the Niger–Congo language family within the Sotho languages branch of Zone S , that is spoken by the Lozi people, primarily in southwestern Zambia and in surrounding countries...

     (Silozi) (600,000)
  • Lala-Bisa
    Lala-Bisa language
    Lala-Bisa is a Bantu language of Zambia that is closely related to Bemba....

     (600,000)
  • Nsenga
    Nsenga language
    Nsenga, also known as Senga, is a Bantu language of Zambia and Mozambique....

     (550,000)
  • Tumbuka
    Tumbuka language
    The Tumbuka language is a Bantu language which is spoken in parts of Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania.The language of the Tumbuka people is called chiTumbuka — the chi- marker in front of Tumbuka means “thing”, “concept”, and is understood in this case “the language of ”...

     (Chitumbuka) (500,000)
  • Lunda
    Lunda language
    Lunda, also known as Chilunda, is a Bantu language spoken in Zambia, Angola and, to a lesser extent, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lunda and its dialects are spoken and understood by perhaps 2.6% of Zambians , and the language is used mainly in the northern part of that...

     (450,000)
  • Nyiha
    Nyiha language
    Nyiha is a Bantu language primarily spoken in Tanzania and Zambia. The language of the 10,000 speakers in Malawi is different enough to sometimes be considered a distinct language....

     (400,000+)
  • Mambwe (Lungu) (400,000)


Zimbabwe
  • Shona language
    Shona language
    Shona is a Bantu language, native to the Shona people of Zimbabwe and southern Zambia; the term is also used to identify peoples who speak one of the Shona language dialects: Zezuru, Karanga, Manyika, Ndau and Korekore...

    s (8.5 million incl. Karanga, Zezuru, Kalanga, Korekore, Ndau, Manyika)
  • Ndebele
    Northern Ndebele language
    The Northern Ndebele language, isiNdebele, or Ndebele is an African language belonging to the Nguni group of Bantu languages, and spoken by the Ndebele or Matabele people of Zimbabwe. It is commonly known as Sindebele....

     (2 million)
  • Tonga
    Tonga language (Zambia)
    The Tonga language of Zambia and Zimbabwe is a Bantu Language primarily spoken by the Tonga people in those countries who live mainly in the Southern and Western provinces of Zambia, and in northern Zimbabwe, with a few in Mozambique. The language is also spoken by the Tonga, Ila, Iwe, Toka and...

  • Venda
    Venda language
    Venda, also known as or , is a Bantu language and an official language of South Africa. The majority of Venda speakers live in the northern part of South Africa's Limpopo Province, but about 10% of speakers live in Zimbabwe. The Venda language is related to Kalanga which is spoken in Botswana...


This list is incomplete; an attempt at a full list of Bantu languages (with various conflations and a puzzlingly diverse nomenclature) was found in The Bantu Languages of Africa, 1959.

Bantu words popularised in western cultures

Some words from various Bantu languages have been borrowed into western languages. These include:
  • Bongos
    Bongo drum
    Bongo or bongos are a Cuban percussion instrument consisting of a pair of single-headed, open-ended drums attached to each other. The drums are of different size: the larger drum is called in Spanish the hembra and the smaller the macho...

  • Bomba
    Bomba (Ecuador)
    Bomba or Bomba del Chota is an Afro-Ecuadorian musical form from the Chota Valley area of Ecuador in the province of Imbabura and Carchi. Its origins can be traced back to Africa via the middle passage and the use of African slave labor during the country's colonial period...

  • Bwana
  • Candombe
    Candombe
    Candombe is a musical genre that has its roots in the African Bantu, and is proper of Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil .Uruguayan Candombe is the most practiced and spread internationally and has been recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity...

  • Chimpanzee
    Chimpanzee
    Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

  • Conga
    Conga
    The conga, or more properly the tumbadora, is a tall, narrow, single-headed Cuban drum with African antecedents. It is thought to be derived from the Makuta drums or similar drums associated with Afro-Cubans of Central African descent. A person who plays conga is called a conguero...

  • Gumbo
    Gumbo
    Gumbo is a stew or soup that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers, and onions...

  • Hakuna matata
    Hakuna Matata
    Hakuna matata is a Swahili phrase that is literally translated as "There are no worries." It is sometimes translated as "no worries", although is more commonly used similarly to the American English phrase "no problem".-Jambo Bwana:...

  • Impala
    Impala
    An impala is a medium-sized African antelope. The name impala comes from the Zulu language meaning "gazelle"...

  • Jenga
    Jenga
    Jenga is a game of physical and mental skill created by Leslie Scott, and currently marketed by Parker Brothers, a division of Hasbro. During the game, players take turns to remove a block from a tower and balance it on top, creating a taller and increasingly unstable structure as the game...

  • Jumbo
    Jumbo (disambiguation)
    Jumbo was a famous 19th-century circus elephant, and "jumbo" is now an adjective for big or huge.Jumbo may also refer to:*Jumbo, Zimbabwe, a village*Jumbo , a Dutch supermarket chain...

  • Kalimba
  • Kwanzaa
    Kwanzaa
    Kwanzaa is a week long celebration held in the United States honoring universal African-American heritage and culture, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year. It features activities such as lighting a candle holder with seven candles and culminates in a feast and gift giving...

  • Mamba
    Mamba
    Mambas, of the genus Dendroaspis , are a group of highly venomous, fast-moving land-dwelling snakes of Africa. They belong to the family of Elapidae which includes cobras, coral snakes, taipans, brown snakes, tiger snakes, death adders, kraits and, debatably, sea snakes...

  • Mambo
    Mambo (disambiguation)
    Mambo may refer to: mambo jamboIn art and entertainment:*Mambo , a Cuban musical form*Mambo , a dance corresponding to mambo music*Mambo section, a section in some types of Afro-Caribbean music, such as Salsa, Danzon*"Mambo No...

  • Mbira
    Mbira
    In African music, the mbira is a musical instrument that consists of a wooden board to which staggered metal keys have been attached. It is often fitted into a resonator...

  • Marimba
    Marimba
    The marimba is a musical instrument in the percussion family. It consists of a set of wooden keys or bars with resonators. The bars are struck with mallets to produce musical tones. The keys are arranged as those of a piano, with the accidentals raised vertically and overlapping the natural keys ...

  • Rumba
  • Safari
    Safari
    A safari is an overland journey, usually a trip by tourists to Africa. Traditionally, the term is used for a big-game hunt, but today the term often refers to a trip taken not for the purposes of hunting, but to observe and photograph animals and other wildlife.-Etymology:Entering the English...

  • Samba
    Samba
    Samba is a Brazilian dance and musical genre originating in Bahia and with its roots in Brazil and Africa via the West African slave trade and African religious traditions. It is recognized around the world as a symbol of Brazil and the Brazilian Carnival...

  • Simba
    Simba
    Simba is a lion character and the protagonist of Disney's most successful animated feature film, The Lion King. He is the son of Mufasa and Sarabi, nephew of Scar, mate of Nala, and father of Kiara. He has golden fur and when he grows into an adult, he has an auburn mane...

  • Ubuntu
    Ubuntu (ideology)
    Ubuntu or "uMunthu" is an African ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other. Some believe that ubuntu is a classical African philosophy or worldview whereas others point out that the idea that ubuntu is a philosophy or worldview has developed in...



A case has been made out for borrowings of many place-names and even misremembered rhymes such as "Here we go looby-loo ... " – chiefly from one of the Luba
Luba
Luba may refer to:*Slavic origin feminine name which means "someone who has love"*Luba, Equatorial Guinea*Luba, Abra, a municipality in the Philippines*Ľubá, a village and municipality in the Nitra region of south-west Slovakia...

 varieties – in the USA.

Subclassification

The subclassification of Bantu is not well established. Following are the groups that are generally accepted. See Guthrie classification of Bantu languages for details.
  • Jarawan
    Jarawan languages
    Jarawan is a dialect cluster that is closely related to, or perhaps a branch of, the Bantu languages. Blench says that it almost certainly belongs with the A.60 languages, which are part of Mbam.-Languages:...

  • Manenguba
    Manenguba languages
    The Manenguba languages, also known as Ngoe or the Mbo cluster, are a clade of Bantu languages coded Zone A.15 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , they form a valid node...

  • Sawabantu
    Sawabantu languages
    The Sawabantu languages are a clade of Bantu languages coded Zone A.20–30 or perhaps A.10–30 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , the A.20 and A.30 languages apart from Bube form a valid node. They are:...

  • Basaa
    Basaa languages
    The Basaa languages are a clade of Bantu languages coded Zone A.40 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , the languages remaining from the formation of the Mbam group form a valid node. They are:Hijuk was listed as unclassified A.50 in Guthrie, but according to Ethnologue it...

  • Bafia
    Bafia languages
    The Bafia languages are a clade of Bantu languages coded Zone A.50 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , the languages form a valid node. They are:Hijuk was listed as unclassified A.50 in Guthrie, but according to Ethnologue it is quite similar to Basaa....

  • Beti
    Beti language
    Beti is a language, or group of Bantu languages, spoken by the Beti-Pahuin group of people, who inhabit the rain forest regions of Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and São Tomé and Príncipe....

  • Pomo–Bomwali
  • Kele–Tsogo
    Kele–Tsogo languages
    Kele–Tsogo is a proposed intermediate group of Bantu languages, coded Zone B.10–30 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , they are:*Kele *Tsogo–Myene**Myene **Tsogo...

  • Teke–Mbere
  • Mboshi–Buja
    Mboshi–Buja languages
    The Mboshi–Buja languages are a proposed intermediate clade of Bantu languages that comprise a large part of Guthrie's Zone C:*Ngondi–Ngiri *Mboshi *Buja–Ngombe languages...

  • Bangi–Tetela
    Bangi–Tetela languages
    The Bangi–Tetela languages are a proposed intermediate clade of Bantu languages that comprise a large part of Guthrie's Zone C :*Bangi–Ntomba *Soko–Kele *Tetela *Bushoong...

  • Mbole–Enya
    Mbole–Enya languages
    The Mbole–Enya languages are a clade of Bantu languages coded Zone D.10 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , apart possibly from Lengola the languages form a valid node. The other languages are:Nyali languages may also belong. Lengola is part of the Lebonya proponal....

  • Lega–Binja
    Lega–Binja languages
    The Lega–Binja languages are part of the Bantu languages coded Zone D.20 in Guthrie's classification, specifically D.24–26, which according to Nurse & Philippson form a valid clade. According to Ethnologue, Bembe, which Nurse & Philippson were not sure belonged in its traditional group of D.50, is...


  • Boan
    Boan languages
    Boan is a proposed intermediate group of Bantu languages coded Zones C and D in Guthrie's classification . There are three branches:*Komo *Bali , ?Beeke*Bomokandian...

  • Lebonya
    Lebonya languages
    Lebonya is a proposed intermediate group of Bantu languages coded Zone D in Guthrie's classification. There are three branches:*Lengola*Bodo*the Nyali languages...

  • Nyanga–Buyi
    Nyanga–Buyi languages
    Nyanga–Buyi are a pair of Bantu languages left after the languages of Zone D.40–50 in Guthrie's classification were reclassified. According to Nurse & Philippson , they form a valid node....

  • Northeast Bantu
    Northeast Bantu
    The Northeast Bantu languages are a group of Bantu languages of East African which share a phonological innovation called Dahl's Law that is unlikely to be borrowed...

  • Tongwe-Bende
  • Mbugwe–Rangi
    Mbugwe–Rangi languages
    Mbugwe–Rangi are a pair of Bantu languages left after the languages of Zone F.30 in Guthrie's classification were reclassified. According to Nurse & Philippson , they form a valid node....

  • Kilombero
    Kilombero languages
    The Kilombero languages are a group of Bantu languages of Tanzania established in Nurse .The languages, along with their Guthrie identifications, are:*Pogolo *Mbunga , Ndamba...

  • Kongo
    Kongo languages
    The Kongo languages are a clade of Bantu languages coded Zone H.10 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , apart from Kunyi, Suundi and Vili the languages form a valid node. They are:Ethnologue lists several additional forms....

    Yaka
    Yaka languages
    The Yaka languages are a clade of Bantu languages coded Zone H.30 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , with a couple additions the languages form a valid node. They are:The Yaka languages appear to be closest to Kongo....

    Sira
    Sira languages
    The Sira languages are a clade of Bantu languages coded Zone B.40 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , together with a couple languages from H10, they form a valid node. They are:...

  • Kimbundu
    Kimbundu languages
    The Kimbundu languages are a group of Bantu languages coded Zone H.20 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , they probably form a valid node, though this is still uncertain, and Songo may be related to the Teke languages. They are:...

  • Chokwe–Luchazi
    Chokwe–Luchazi languages
    The Chokwe–Luchazi languages are a clade of Bantu languages coded Zone K.10 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , they form a valid node. They are:...

  • Luyana
    Luyana language
    Luyana is a Bantu language spoken by almost half a million people in Zambia and in discontinuous areas of Nambia and Angola. It appears to be an divergent lineage of Bantu....

  • Mbukushu
    Mbukushu language
    Mbukushu or Thimbukushu is a Bantu language spoken by 45,000 people along the Okavango River in Namibia, where it is a national language; in Botswana; in Angola; and in Zambia, where it is an official regional language. It appears to be an divergent lineage of Bantu.Mbukushu is one of several...

  • Pende
    Pende languages
    The Pende or Holu languages are a clade of Bantu languages coded Zone L.10 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , they form a valid node together with some languages from Zone H:...


  • Luban
    Luban languages
    The Luban languages are a group of Bantu languages established by Christine Ahmed . They constitute half of Guthrie's Zone L. The languages, or clusters, along with their Guthrie identifications, are:* Yazi *Songe...

  • Lunda
    Lunda languages
    The Luda languages are a clade of Bantu languages coded Zone L.50 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , the languages form a valid node. They are:...

  • Rukwa
    Rukwa languages
    The Rukwa languages are a group of Bantu languages established by Nurse and Fourshey . They constitute half of Guthrie's Zone M, plus Bungu...

  • Sabi
    Sabi languages
    The Sabi languages are a group of Bantu languages established by Christine Ahmed . They constitute much of Guthrie's Zone M, plus Nsenga. The languages, or clusters, along with their Guthrie identifications, are:*Taabwa...

    Botatwe
    Botatwe languages
    The Botatwe languages are a group of Bantu languages established by Christine Ahmed . They are Guthrie group M.60 plus some of the Subia languages :*Tonga *Ila *Soli*Lenje The Botatwe languages are a group of Bantu languages established by Christine Ahmed (1995). They are Guthrie group M.60...

  • Nyasa
    Nyasa languages
    The Nyasa languages are an apparently valid genealogical group of Bantu languages. With the reassignment of a couple Guthrie Zone N languages to other branches, Nyasa is essentially synonymous with Zone N. The languages and their Guthrie identifications are:...

  • Rufiji–Ruvuma
    Rufiji–Ruvuma languages
    The Rufiji–Ruvuma languages are a group of Bantu languages established by Gloria Waite and subsequent researchers: N10 , P10 , P20.The languages, or clusters, along with their Guthrie identifications are:...

  • Umbundu
  • Kavango – Southwest Bantu
    Kavango – Southwest Bantu languages
    The Kavango – Southwest Bantu languages are a group of Bantu languages established by Anita Pfouts . The Southwest Bantu languages constitute most of Guthrie's Zone R...

  • Yeyi
    Yeyi language
    Yeyi is an endangered Bantu language spoken by many of the approximately 50,000 Yeyi people along the Okavango River in Namibia and Botswana. Yeyi, influenced by Juu languages, is one of several Bantu languages along the Okavango with clicks...

  • Shona
    Shona languages
    The Shona languages are a clade of Bantu languages coded Zone S.10 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson , the languages form a valid node. They are:...

  • Southern Bantu
    Southern Bantu languages
    The Southern Bantu languages are large group of Bantu languages, largely validated in Janson . They are nearly synonymous with Guthrie's Bantu zone S, apart from the exclusion of Shona and the inclusion of Makua...

  • (unclassified): Guru
    Guru language
    Guru, or Boguru, is a poorly documented South Sudanese Bantu language of uncertain affiliation. A number of speakers are refugees in DR Congo....

    , Ngbinda
    Ngbinda language
    Ngbinda is a poorly documented Congolese Bantu language of uncertain affiliation. Prior to 1975 it had also been spoken in southern Sudan....

    , Kare, Nyanga-li
    Nyanga-li language
    Nyanga-li , Gbati-ri , and Mayeka form a dialect continuum of Bantu languages in Orientale Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo....

    , Bwela
    Bwela language
    Bwela, or Lingi, is a poorly known Cameroonian Bantu language of uncertain affiliation....

    , Ngbee
    Ngbee language
    Ngbee is an extinct Bantu language of uncertain affiliation. Guthrie assigned to the Nyali cluster. Ethnologue leaves it unclassified....

    , Lwalu
    Lwalu language
    Lwalu, also known as Lwalwa, is a Bantu language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its classification is uncertain: Nurse , following Ahmed , assigns all of Guthrie's L.20 languages to Luban, and Lwalu is L.23. Ehret, however, places it as a distant relative of many of the Zone B and C...



See also

  • Malcolm Guthrie
    Malcolm Guthrie
    Malcolm Guthrie , professor of Bantu languages, is known primarily for his classification of Bantu languages...

  • Meeussen's rule
    Meeussen's rule
    Meeussen’s rule is the name for a special case of tone reduction in Bantu languages. The tonal alternation it describes is the lowering in some contexts of the last tone of a pattern of two adjacent High tones , resulting in the pattern HL. The phenomenon is named after its first observer, the...

  • Noun class
    Noun class
    In linguistics, the term noun class refers to a system of categorizing nouns. A noun may belong to a given class because of characteristic features of its referent, such as sex, animacy, shape, but counting a given noun among nouns of such or another class is often clearly conventional...

  • Bantu peoples
  • Guthrie classification of Bantu languages
  • Northeast Bantu
    Northeast Bantu
    The Northeast Bantu languages are a group of Bantu languages of East African which share a phonological innovation called Dahl's Law that is unlikely to be borrowed...

  • Kavango – Southwest Bantu
  • Southern Bantu
  • Luban languages
    Luban languages
    The Luban languages are a group of Bantu languages established by Christine Ahmed . They constitute half of Guthrie's Zone L. The languages, or clusters, along with their Guthrie identifications, are:* Yazi *Songe...

  • Rufiji–Ruvuma languages
    Rufiji–Ruvuma languages
    The Rufiji–Ruvuma languages are a group of Bantu languages established by Gloria Waite and subsequent researchers: N10 , P10 , P20.The languages, or clusters, along with their Guthrie identifications are:...

  • Rukwa languages
    Rukwa languages
    The Rukwa languages are a group of Bantu languages established by Nurse and Fourshey . They constitute half of Guthrie's Zone M, plus Bungu...


External links

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