The Info List - Bantu Language

The Bantu languages
Bantu languages
(/ˈbæntuː/;[2] technically the Narrow Bantu languages, as opposed to "Wide Bantu", a loosely defined categorization which includes other Bantoid languages) constitute a traditional branch of the Niger–Congo languages. There are about 250 Bantu languages
Bantu languages
by the criterion of mutual intelligibility,[3] though the distinction between language and dialect is often unclear, and Ethnologue
counts 535 languages.[4][not in citation given] Bantu languages are largely spoken east and south of present-day Cameroon, that is, in the regions commonly known as Central Africa, Southeast Africa
and Southern Africa. Parts of the Bantu area include languages from other language families (see map). Estimates of number of speakers of most languages vary widely, due both to the lack of accurate statistics in most developing countries and the difficulty in defining exactly where the boundaries of certain languages lie, particularly in the presence of a dialect continuum. The Bantu language with the largest total number of speakers is Swahili; however, the majority of its speakers use it as a second language. According to Ethnologue, there are over 180 million second-language (L2) speakers of Swahili but only about 2 million native speakers.[5] Other major Bantu languages
Bantu languages
include Zulu, with 27 million speakers (15.7 million L2), and Shona, with about 11 million speakers (if Manyika and Ndau are included).[6][7] Ethnologue
separates the largely mutually intelligible Kinyarwanda and Kirundi, which, if grouped together, have 12.4 million speakers.[8]


1 Origin 2 Classification 3 Language structure

3.1 Reduplication 3.2 Noun class

4 By country 5 Geographic areas 6 Bantu words popularised in western cultures 7 Writing systems 8 See also 9 References 10 Bibliography 11 External links

Origin[edit] The Bantu languages
Bantu languages
descend from a common Proto-Bantu language, which is believed to have been spoken in what is now Cameroon
in Central Africa.[9] An estimated 2,500–3,000 years ago (1000 BC to 500 BC), although other sources put the start of the Bantu Expansion closer to 3000 BC,[10] speakers of the Proto-Bantu language began a series of migrations eastward and southward, carrying agriculture with them. This Bantu expansion
Bantu expansion
came to dominate Sub-Saharan Africa
east of Cameroon, an area where Bantu peoples
Bantu peoples
now constitute nearly the entire population.[9][11] The technical term Bantu, meaning "human beings" or simply "people", was first used by Wilhelm Bleek
Wilhelm 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 "human being" or in simplistic terms "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, pursued extensive studies comparing the grammatical structures of Bantu languages. Classification[edit] Main article: Guthrie classification of Bantu languages

The approximate locations of the sixteen Guthrie Bantu zones, including the addition of a zone J around the Great Lakes. The Jarawan languages are spoken in Nigeria.

The most widely used classification is an alphanumeric coding system developed by Malcolm Guthrie in his 1948 classification of the Bantu languages. is mainly geographic. The term 'narrow Bantu' was coined by the Benue–Congo Working Group to distinguish Bantu as recognized by Guthrie, from the Bantoid languages
Bantoid languages
not recognized as Bantu by Guthrie.[citation needed] In recent times,[when?] the distinctiveness of Narrow Bantu as opposed to the other Southern Bantoid languages
Southern Bantoid languages
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.[speculation?] There is no true genealogical classification of the (Narrow) Bantu languages. Until recently[when?] most attempted classifications only considered languages that happen to fall within traditional Narrow Bantu, but there seems to be a continuum with the related languages of South Bantoid.[citation needed] At a broader level, the family is commonly split in two depending on the reflexes of proto-Bantu tone patterns: Many Bantuists group together parts of zones A through D (the extent depending on the author) as Northwest Bantu or Forest Bantu, and the remainder as Central Bantu or Savanna Bantu. The two groups have been described as having mirror-image tone systems: where Northwest Bantu has a high tone in a cognate, Central Bantu languages
Bantu languages
generally have a low tone, and vice versa. Northwest Bantu is more divergent internally than Central Bantu, and perhaps less conservative due to contact with non-Bantu Niger–Congo languages; Central Bantu is likely the innovative line cladistically. Northwest Bantu is clearly not a coherent family, but even for Central Bantu the evidence is lexical, with little evidence that it is a historically valid group. Another attempt at a detailed genetic classification to replace the Guthrie system is the 1999 "Tervuren" proposal of Bastin, Coupez, and Mann.[12] However, it relies on lexicostatistics, which, because of its reliance on similarity rather than shared innovations, may predict spurious groups of conservative languages that are not closely related. Meanwhile, Ethnologue
has added languages to the Guthrie classification which Guthrie overlooked, while removing the Mbam languages (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. This has been criticized for sowing confusion in one of the few unambiguous ways to distinguish Bantu languages. Nurse & Philippson (2006) evaluate many proposals for low-level groups of Bantu languages, but the result is not a complete portrayal of the family.[citation needed] Glottolog
has incorporated many of these into their classification.[1] The languages that share Dahl's law may also form a valid group, Northeast Bantu. The infobox at right lists these together with various low-level groups that are fairly uncontroversial, though they continue to be revised. The development of a rigorous genealogical classification of many branches of Niger–Congo, not just Bantu, is hampered by insufficient data.[citation needed] Language structure[edit] Guthrie reconstructed both the phonemic inventory and the vocabulary of Proto-Bantu.[citation needed] The most prominent grammatical characteristic of Bantu languages
Bantu languages
is the extensive use of affixes (see Sotho grammar and Ganda noun classes for detailed discussions of these affixes). Each noun belongs to a class, and each language may have several numbered classes, somewhat like grammatical gender in European languages. The class is indicated by a prefix that is 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.[citation needed] The verb has a number of prefixes, though in the western languages these are often treated as independent words.[13] In Swahili, for example, Mtoto mdogo amekisoma (for comparison, Kamwana kadoko karikuverenga in Shona language) 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' (from Arabic kitab). Pluralizing to 'children' gives Watoto wadogo wamekisoma (Vana vadoko varikuverenga in Shona), and pluralizing to 'books' (vitabu) gives Watoto wadogo wamevisoma.[citation needed] 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 recorded by Vansina, however, has final consonants,[14] while slurring of the final syllable (though written) is reported as common among the Tonga of Malawi.[15] 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 is understood.[citation needed] This tendency to avoid consonant clusters in some positions is important when words are imported from English or other non-Bantu languages. An example from Chewa: 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 -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. However, a clustering of sounds at the beginning of a syllable can be readily observed in such languages as Shona,[16] and the Makua languages.[17] Reduplication[edit] Reduplication 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.[18]

Example: in Swahili piga means "strike", pigapiga means "strike repeatedly".

Well-known words and names that have reduplication include

Bafana Bafana, a football team Chipolopolo, a football team Eric Djemba-Djemba, a footballer Lomana LuaLua, a footballer Ngorongoro, a conservation area

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]. In contrast, 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 Xitsonga and Shona, famba means "walk" while famba-famba means "walk around". Example 2: in isiZulu and SiSwati hamba means "go", hambahamba means "go a little bit, but not much". Example 3: in both of the above languages shaya means "strike", shayashaya means "strike a few more times lightly, but not heavy strikes and not too many times". Example 4: In Shona kwenya means "scratch", Kwenyakwenya means "scratch excessively or a lot".

Noun class[edit] The following is a list of nominal classes in Bantu:[19]

Singular classes Plural classes Typical meaning(s)

Number Prefix Number Prefix

1 *mʊ- 2 *ba- Humans, animate

3 *mu- 4 *mi- Plants, inanimate

5 *dɪ- 6 *ma- Various; class 6 for liquids (mass nouns)

7 *ki- 8 *bɪ- Various, diminutives, manner/way/language

9 *n- 10 *n- Animals, inanimate

11 *du-

Abstract nouns

12 *ka- 13 *tu- Diminutives

14 *bu-

Abstract nouns

15 *ku- Infinitives

16 *pa- Locatives (proximal, exact)

17 *ku- Locatives (distal, approximate)

18 *mu- Locatives (interior)

19 *pɪ- Diminutives

By country[edit] Following is an incomplete list of the principal Bantu languages
Bantu languages
of each country.[20] 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. An attempt at a full list of Bantu languages
Bantu languages
(with various conflations and a puzzlingly diverse nomenclature) can be found in The Bantu Languages of Africa, 1959.[21] 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 and Kimbundu (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
the people are the Batswana, one person is a Motswana, and the language is Setswana; and in Uganda, centred on the kingdom of Buganda, the dominant ethnicity are the Baganda
(sg. Muganda), whose language is Luganda.

Lingua franca

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


South Mbundu (Umbundu) (4 million) North Mbundu (Kimbundu) (3 million) Ovambo (Ambo) (Oshiwambo) (500,000) Luvale (Chiluvale) (500,000) Chokwe (Chichokwe) (500,000)


Tswana (Setswana) (1.6 million) Kalanga (Ikalanga) (150,000)


Kirundi (8.5 - 10.5 million)


Beti (1.7 million: 900,000 Bulu, 600,000 Ewondo, 120,000 Fang, 60,000 Eton, 30,000 Bebele) Basaa (230,000) Duala (350,000)

Central African Republic

Mbati (60,000)

Democratic Republic of the Congo

(Ngala) (2 million; 7 million with L2 speakers) Luba-Kasai (Tshiluba) (6.5 million) Kituba (4.5 million), a Bantu creole Kongo (Kikongo) (3.5 million) Luba-Katanga (Kiluba) (1.5+ million) Songe (Lusonge) (1+ million) Nande (Orundandi) (1 million) Tetela (Otetela) (800,000) Yaka (Iyaka) (700,000+) Shi (700,000) Yombe (Kiyombe) (670,000)

Equatorial Guinea

Beti (Fang) (300,000) Bube (40,000)


Baka Barama Bekwel Benga Bubi Bwisi Duma Fang (500,000) Kendell Kanin Sake Sangu Seki Sighu Simba Sira Northern Teke Western Teke Tsaangi Tsogo Vili (3,600) Vumbu Wandji Wumbvu Yangho Yasa


Swahili and English are national languages

Gikuyu (7 million) Luhya (5.4 million) Kamba (4 million) Meru (Kimeru) (2.7 million) Gusii (2 million) Mijikenda Taita


Sotho (Sesotho) (1.8 million) Zulu (Isizulu) (300,000)


Chewa (Nyanja) (Chichewa) (7 million) Tumbuka (1 million) Yao (1 million)


Makhuwa (3 million; 5.5 million all Makua) Tsonga (Xitsonga) (3.1 million) Shona (Ndau) (1.6 million) Lomwe (1.5 million) Sena (1.3 million) Tswa (1.2 million) Chuwabu (1.0 million) Chopi (800,000) Ronga (700,000) Chewa (Nyanja) (Chichewa) (600,000) Yao (Chiyao) (500,000) Nyungwe (Cinyungwe/Nhungue)(400,000) Tonga (400,000) Makonde (400,000)


Ovambo (Ambo, Oshiwambo) (1 500,000) Herero (200,000)

Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville)

Kituba (1.2+ million) [a Bantu creole] Kongo (Kikongo) (1.0 million) Teke languages (500,000) Yombe (350,000) Suundi (120,000) Mbosi (110,000) Lingala
(100,000; ? L2 speakers)


Kinyarwanda (Kinyarwanda) (10 - 12 million)

South Africa
According to the South African National Census of 2011[22][full citation needed]

Zulu (Isizulu) (11,587,374[22]) Xhosa (Isixhosa) (8,154,258[22]) Northern Sotho (Sesotho sa Leboa) (4,618,576[22]) Tswana (Setswana) (4,067,248[22]) Sotho (Sesotho) (3,849,563[22]) Tsonga (Xitsonga) (2,277,148[22]) Swazi (Siswati) (1,297,046[22]) Venda (Tshivenda) (1,209,388[22]) Ndebele (Isindebele) (1,090,223[22])

TOTAL Nguni: 22,406,O49 (61.98%) TOTAL Sotho-Tswana: 13,744,775 (38.02%) TOTAL OFFICIAL INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE SPEAKERS: 36,150,824 (69.83%[22]) Swaziland

Swazi (Siswati) (1 million)


Swahili is the national language

Sukuma (5.5 million) Gogo (1.5 million) Haya (Kihaya) (1.3 million) Chaga (Kichaga) (1.2+ million : 600,000 Mochi, 300,000+ Machame, 300,000+ Vunjo) Nyamwezi (1.0 million) Makonde (1.0 million) Ha (1.0 million) Nyakyusa (800,000) Hehe (800,000) Luguru (700,000) Bena (600,000) Shambala (650,000) Nyaturu (600,000)


Ganda (Luganda) (7.5 million) Nkore-Kiga (3.5 million : 2.3 million Nyankore, 1.2 million Kiga (Chiga)) Soga (Lusoga) (2 million) Masaba (Lumasaba) (1.1 million) Nyoro-Tooro (1.1 million) Kinyarwanda (Kinyarwanda) (750,000) Konjo (600,000) Gwere (400,000)


Bemba (3.3 million) Tonga (1.0 million) Chewa (Nyanja) (Chichewa) (800,000) Kaonde (240,000) Lozi (Silozi) (600,000) Lala-Bisa (600,000) Nsenga (550,000) Tumbuka (Chitumbuka) (500,000) Lunda (450,000) Nyiha (400,000+) Mambwe-Lungu (400,000)


Shona languages (12 million incl. Karanga, Zezuru, Korekore, Ndau, Manyika) Ndebele (2 million) Tonga Venda Kalanga

Geographic areas[edit] Map 1 shows Bantu languages
Bantu languages
in Africa
and map 2 a magnification of the Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon
area, as of July 2017.[citation needed]

Localization of the Niger–Congo languages

Bantu words popularised in western cultures[edit] A case has been made out for borrowings of many place-names and even misremembered rhymes – chiefly from one of the Luba varieties – in the USA.[23] Some words from various Bantu languages
Bantu languages
have been borrowed into western languages. These include:

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Bomba Bongos Bwana Candombe Chimpanzee Gumbo Hakuna matata Impala Indaba Jenga Jumbo Kalimba Kwanzaa Mamba Mambo Mbira Marimba Rumba Safari Samba Simba Ubuntu

Writing systems[edit] Along with the Latin script
Latin script
and Arabic script
Arabic script
orthographies, there are also some modern indigenous writing systems used for Bantu languages:

The Mwangwego alphabet is an abugida that is used to write the Chewa language and other languages of Malawi. The Mandombe script
Mandombe script
is an abugida that is used to write the Bantu languages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mainly by the Kimbanguist
movement. The Isibheqe Sohlamvu or Ditema tsa Dinoko script is a featural syllabary used to write the siNtu or Southern Bantu languages.

See also[edit]

Bantu peoples Meeussen's rule Nguni languages Noun class


^ a b Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Narrow Bantu". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ "Bantu". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. ^ Derek Nurse, 2006, "Bantu Languages", in the Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics ^ Ethnologue
report for Southern Bantoid. The figure of 535 includes the 13 Mbam languages
Mbam languages
considered Bantu in Guthrie's classification and thus counted by Nurse (2006) ^ Stanford 2013. ^ "Ethnologue: Zulu". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-03-05.  ^ "Ethnologue: Shona". Retrieved 2017-03-06.  ^ "Statistical Summaries". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2012-06-29.  ^ a b Philip J. Adler, Randall L. Pouwels, World Civilizations: To 1700 Volume 1 of World Civilizations, (Cengage Learning: 2007), p.169. ^ Gemma Berniell-Lee et al Genetic and Demographic Implications of the Bantu Expansion: Insights from Human Paternal Lineages. Oxfordjournals.com ^ Toyin Falola, Aribidesi Adisa Usman, Movements, borders, and identities in Africa, (University Rochester Press: 2009), p.4. ^ The Guthrie, Tervuren, and SIL lists are compared side by side in Maho 2002. ^ Derek Nurse, 2008. Tense and aspect in Bantu, p 70 (fn). In many of the Zone A, including Mbam, the verbs are clearly analytic. ^ Vansina, J. Esquisse de Grammaire Bushong. Commission de Linguistique Africaine, Tervuren, Belgique, 1959. ^ Turner, Rev. Wm. Y., Tumbuka–Tonga$1–$2 $3ictionEnglish Dictionary Hetherwick Press, Blantyre, Malawi
1952. pages i–ii. ^ Doke, Clement M., A Comparative Study in Shona Phonetics University of Witwatersrand, Johannesberg, 1931. ^ Relatório do I Seminário sobre a Padronização da Ortografia de Línguas Moçambicanas NELIMO, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. 1989. ^ Abdulaziz Lodhi, "Verbal extensions in Bantu (the case of Swahili and Nyamwezi)". Africa
& Asia, 2002, 2:4–26, Göteborg University ^ "Les classes nominales en bantu".  ^ "According to Ethnologue". Ethnologue.org. Retrieved 2012-06-29. (Subscription required (help)).  ^ Bryan, M.A.(compiled by), The Bantu Languages of Africa. Published for the International African Institute, Oxford University Press, 1959. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k South African National Census of 2011 ^ Vass, Winifred Kellersberger (1979). The Bantu Speaking Heritage of the United States. Center for Afro-American Studies, University of California. p. 73. Retrieved 7 September 2014. “Here we go looby-loo; here we go looby-la (or looby-light) / Here we go looby-loo; all on a Saturday night!” Both of these Luba words, lubilu (quickly, in a hurry), and lubila (a shout) are words still in common usage in the Republic of Zaïre. 


Biddulph, Joseph, Bantu Byways Pontypridd 2001. ISBN 978-1-897999-30-1. Finck, Franz Nikolaus (1908). Die Verwandtschaftsverhältnisse der Bantusprachen. Vandenhoek und Ruprecht. Retrieved 25 August 2012.  Guthrie, Malcolm. 1948. The classification of the Bantu languages. London: Oxford University Press for the International African Institute. Guthrie, Malcolm. 1971. Comparative Bantu, Vol 2. Farnborough: Gregg International. Heine, Bernd. 1973. Zur genetische Gliederung der Bantu-Sprachen. Afrika und Übersee, 56: 164–185. Maho, Jouni F. 2001. The Bantu area: (towards clearing up) a mess. Africa
& Asia, 1:40–49. Maho, Jouni F. 2002. Bantu lineup: comparative overview of three Bantu classifications. Göteborg University: Department of Oriental and African Languages. Nurse, Derek, & Gérard Philippson. 2006. The Bantu Languages. Routledge. Piron, Pascale. 1995. Identification lexicostatistique des groupes Bantoïdes stables. Journal of West African Languages, 25(2): 3–39. Stanford (2013). "Kiswahili". Retrieved 2013-06-20. (subscription required)[full citation needed]

External links[edit]

Arte da lingua de Angola: oeferecida [sic] a virgem Senhora N. do Rosario, mãy, Senhora dos mesmos pretos The art of the language of Angola, by Father Pedro Dias, 1697, Lisbon, artedalinguadean Comparative Bantu Online Dictionary linguistics.berkeley.edu, includes comprehensive bibliography. Maho, Jouni Filip NUGL Online. The online version of the New Updated Guthrie List, a referential classification of the Bantu languages goto.glocalnet.net, 4 June 2009, 120pp. Guthrie 1948 in detail, with subsequent corrections and corresponding ISO codes. Bantu online resources bantu-languages.com, Jacky Maniacky, 7 July 2007, including

List of Bantu noun classes with reconstructed Proto-Bantu prefixes bantu-languages.com (in French)

Ehret's compilation of classifications by Klieman, Bastin, himself, and others pp 204–09, ucla.edu, 24 June 2012 Contini-Morava, Ellen. Noun Classification in Swahili. 1994, virginia.edu List of Bantu language names with synonyms ordered by Guthrie number.linguistics.berkeley.edu 529 names Introduction to the languages of South Africa
salanguages.com Narrow Bantu Journal of West African Languages Uganda
Bantu Languages ugandatravelguide.com

v t e

Narrow Bantu languages
Bantu languages
(by Guthrie classification)

Zones A – B

Zone A


A11[101] Londo A12[101] Barue A13 Balong A14 Bonkeng A15 Mbo [A141 Bafo A151 Nkongho]


A21 Bomboko A22 Baakpe A23 Su A24 Duala A25 Oli A26 Pongo A27 Mulimba [A221 Bubia A231 Kole]


A31a North Bobe A31b Southwest Bobe A31c Southeast Bobe A32a Banoo A32b Bapoko A33a Yasa A33b Kombe A34 Benga


A41 Lombi A42 Bankon A43a Mbene A43b North Kogo A43c South Kogo A44 Banen A45 Nyokon A46 Mandi [A441 Aling'a A461 Bonek A462 Yambeta


A51 Fa’ A52 Kaalong A53 Kpa A54 Ngayaba [A501 Hijuk]


A61[601] Ngoro A62 Yambasa A63 Mangisa A64[601] Bacenga A65 Bati [A621 Baca A622 Gunu A623 Mbule]


A71 Eton A72a Ewondo A72b Mvele A72c Bakja A72d Yangafek A73a Bëbëlë A73b Gbïgbïl A74 Bulu A75 Fang [A751 South-West Fang]


A81 Mvumbo A82 So A83 Makaa A84 Njem A85a Konabem A85b Bekwil A86a Medjime A86b Mpompo A86c Mpiemo A87 Bomwali [A801 Gyele A802 Ukwedjo A803 Shiwe A831 Byep A832 Bekol A841 Bajue A842 Koonzime]


A91 Kwakum A92a Pol A92b Pomo A93 Kako

Zone B


B11a Mpongwe B11b Rongo B11c Galwa B11d Dyumba B11e Nkomi


B21 Sekiyani B22a West Kele B22b Ngom B22c Bubi B23 Mbangwe B24 Wumbvu B25 Kota [B201 Ndasa B202 Sighu B203 Sama B204 Ndambomo B205 Metombola B221 Molengue B251 Shake B252 Mahongwe]


B31 Tsogo B32 Kande [B301 Viya B302 Himbaka B303 Bongwe B304 Pinzi B305 Vove]


B41 Sira B42 Sangu B43 Punu B44 Lumbu [B401 Bwisi B402 Varama B403 Vungu B404 Ngubi B411 Bwali]


B51 Duma B52 Nzebi B53 Tsaangi [B501 Wanzi B502 Mwele B503 Vili]


B61 Mbete B62 Mbaama B63 Nduumo [B602 Kaning'i B603 Yangho]


B71a Tege-Kali B71b Njiningi B72a Ngungwele B72b Mpumpu B73a Tsaayi B73b Laali B73c Yaa B73d Kwe B74a Ndzindziu B74b Boma B75 Bali B76a Musieno B76b Ngee B77a Kukwa B77b Fumu B78 Wuumu [B701 Tsitsege]


B81 Tiene B82 Boma B83 Mfinu B84a[84] Mpuon B84b[84] Mpuun B85a Mbiem B85b East Yans B85c Yeei B85d Ntsuo B85e Mpur B86 Di B87[84] Mbuun [B821 Mpe

B822 Nunu

B861 Ngul (Ngwi) B862 Lwel B863 Mpiin B864 West Ngongo B865 Nzadi]

Zones C – D

Zone C


C11 Ngondi C12a Pande C12b Bogongo C13 Mbati C14 Mbomotaba C15 Bongili C16 Lobala [C101 Dibole C102 Ngando C103 Kota C104 Yaka C105 Mbenga C141 Enyele C142 Bondongo C143 Mbonzo C161 Bomboli C162 Bozaba]


C21 Mboko C22 Akwa C23[21] Ngare C24 Koyo C25 Mbosi C26 Kwala C27 Kuba [C201 Bwenyi]


C31a Loi C31b Ngiri C31c Nunu C32 Bobangi C33 Sengele C34 Sakata C35a Ntomba C35b Bolia C36a Poto C36b Mpesa C36c Mbudza C36d Mangala C36e Boloki C36f Kangana C36g Ndolo C37 Buja [C301 Doko C302 Bolondo C311 Mabaale C312 Ndoobo C313 Litoka C314 Balobo C315 Enga C321 Binza C322 Dzamba C323 Mpama C371 Tembo C372 Kunda C373 Gbuta C374 Babale]


C41 Ngombe C42 Bwela C43 Bati C44 Boa C45 Angba [C401 Pagibete C403 Kango C411 Bomboma C412 Bamwe C413 Dzando C414 Ligendza C415 Likula C441 Bango]


C51 Mbesa C52 So C53 Poke C54 Lombo C55 Kele C56 Foma [C501 Likile C502 Linga]


C61a Northeast Mongo C61b Northwest Mongo C62 Lalia [C63 Ngando C611 Bafoto]


C71 Tetela C72 Kusu C73 Nkutu C74 Yela C75 Kela C76 Ombo [C701 Langa]


C81 Dengese C82 Songomeno C83 Busoong C84 Lele C85 Wongo

Zone D


D11 Mbole D12 Lengola D13 Metoko D14 Enya [D141 Zura]


D21 Bali D22 Amba D23 Komo D24 Songola D25 Lega D26 Zimba D27 Bangubangu D28a West Holoholo D28b East Holoholo [D201 Liko D211 Kango D251 Lega-Malinga D281 Tumbwe D282 Lumbwe]


D31 Peri D32 Bira D33 Nyali [D301 Kari D302 Guru D303 Ngbinda D304 Homa D305 Nyanga-li D306 Gbati-ri D307 Mayeka D308 Bodo D311 Bila D312 Kaiku D313 Ibutu D331 Bvanuma D332 Budu D333 Ndaaka D334 Mbo D335 Beeke D336 Ngbee]


[J]D41 Konzo [J]D42 Ndandi [J]D43 Nyanga


[J]D51 Hunde [J]D52 Haavu [J]D53 Nyabungu [J]D54 Bembe [J]D55 Buyi [J]D56 Kabwari [JD501 Nyindu [J]JD502 Yaka [J]JD531 Tembo]


[J]D61 Ruanda [J]D62 Rundi [J]D63 Fuliiro [J]D64 Subi [J]D65 Hangaza [J]D66 Ha [J]D67 Vinza [JD631 Vira]

Zones E – H

Zone E


[J]E11 Nyoro [J]E12 Tooro [J]E13 Nyankore [J]E14 Ciga [J]E15 Ganda [J]E16 Soga [J]E17 Gwere [J]E18 Nyala [JE101 Gungu JE102 Talinga-Bwisi JE103 Ruli JE121 Hema]


[J]E21 Nyambo [J]E22 Ziba [J]E23 Dzindza [J]E24 Kerebe [J]E25 Jita [JE221 Rashi JE251 Kwaya JE252 Kara JE253 Ruri]


[J]E31a Gisu [J]E31b Kisu [J]E31c Bukusu [J]E32a Hanga [J]E32b Tsotso [J]E33 Nyore [J]E34 Saamia [J]E35 Nyuli [JE341 Xaayo JE342 Marachi JE343 Songa]


[J]E41 Logooli [J]E42 Gusii [J]E43 Koria [J]E44 Zanaki [J]E45 Nata E46 Sonjo [JE401 Nguruimi JE402 Ikizu JE403 Suba/Suba-Simbiti JE404 Shashi JE405 Kabwa JE406 Singa JE407 Ware JE411 Idaxo JE412 Isuxa JE413 Tiriki JE431 Simbiti JE432 Hacha JE433 Surwa JE434 Sweta]


E51 Kikuyu E52 Embu E53 Meru E54 Saraka E55 Kamba E56 Daiso [E531 Mwimbi-Muthambi E541 Cuka]


E61[621a] Rwo E62a[621b,622a] Hai E62b[622c] Wunjo E62c[623] Rombo E63 Rusa E64 Kahe E65 Gweno


E71 Pokomo E72a Gyriama E72b Kauma E72c Conyi E72d Duruma E72e Rabai E73 Digo E74a Dabida E74b[741] Sagala [E701 Elwana E731 Segeju E732 Degere E74 Taita]

Zone F


F11 Tongwe F12 Bende


[J]F21 Sukuma [J]F22 Nyamwezi [J]F23 Sumbwa [J]F24 Kimbu [J]F25 Bungu


F31 Nilamba F32 Remi F33 Langi F34 Mbugwe

Zone G


G11 Gogo G12 Kaguru


G21 [E74a] Tubeta G22 Asu G23 Shambala G24 Bondei [G221 Mbugu]


G31 Zigula G32 Ngwele G33 Zaramo G34 Ngulu G35 Ruguru G36 Kami G37 Kutu G38 Vidunda G39 Sagala [G301 Doe G311 Mushungulu]


G41 Tikuu G42a Amu G42b Mvita G42c Mrima G42d Unguja G43a Phemba G43b Tumbatu G43c Hadimu G44a Ngazija G44b Njuani [G402 Makwe G403 Mwani G404 Sidi G411 Socotra Swahili G412 Mwiini]


G51 Pogolo G52 Ndamba


G61 Sango G62 Hehe G63 Bena G64 Pangwa G65 Kinga G66 Wanji G67 Kisi [G651 Magoma]

Zone H


H11 Beembe H12 Vili H13 Kunyi H14 Ndingi H15 Mboka H16a South Kongo H16b Central Kongo H16c Yombe H16d Fiote H16e Bwende H16f Laadi H16g East Kongo H16h Southeast Kongo [H111 Hangala H112 Kamba-Doondo H131 Suundi]


H21a (North) Mbundu H21b Mbamba H22 Sama H23 Bolo H24 Songo


H31 Yaka H32 Suku H33 [L12b] Hungu H34 Mbangala H35 Sinji [H321 Soonde]


H41 Mbala H42 Hunganna

Zones J – M

Zone J*


[J]D41 Konzo [J]D42 Ndandi [J]D43 Nyanga


[J]D51 Hunde [J]D52 Haavu [J]D53 Nyabungu [J]D54 Bembe [J]D55 Buyi [J]D56 Kabwari [JD501 Nyindu [J]JD502 Yaka [J]JD531 Tembo]


[J]D61 Ruanda [J]D62 Rundi [J]D63 Fuliiro [J]D64 Subi [J]D65 Hangaza [J]D66 Ha [J]D67 Vinza [JD631 Vira]


[J]E11 Nyoro [J]E12 Tooro [J]E13 Nyankore [J]E14 Ciga [J]E15 Ganda [J]E16 Soga [J]E17 Gwere [J]E18 Nyala [JE101 Gungu JE102 Talinga-Bwisi JE103 Ruli JE121 Hema]


[J]E21 Nyambo [J]E22 Ziba [J]E23 Dzindza [J]E24 Kerebe [J]E25 Jita [JE221 Rashi JE251 Kwaya JE252 Kara JE253 Ruri]


[J]E31a Gisu [J]E31b Kisu [J]E31c Bukusu [J]E32a Hanga [J]E32b Tsotso [J]E33 Nyore [J]E34 Saamia [J]E35 Nyuli [JE341 Xaayo JE342 Marachi JE343 Songa]


[J]E41 Logooli [J]E42 Gusii [J]E43 Koria [J]E44 Zanaki [J]E45 Nata E46 Sonjo [JE401 Nguruimi JE402 Ikizu JE403 Suba/Suba-Simbiti JE404 Shashi JE405 Kabwa JE406 Singa JE407 Ware JE411 Idaxo JE412 Isuxa JE413 Tiriki JE431 Simbiti JE432 Hacha JE433 Surwa JE434 Sweta]


[J]F21 Sukuma [J]F22 Nyamwezi [J]F23 Sumbwa [J]F24 Kimbu [J]F25 Bungu

Zone K


K11 Chokwe K12a Luimbi K12b Nyemba K13 Lucazi K14 Lwena K15 Mbunda K16 Nyengo K17 Mbwela K18 Nkangala


K21 Lozi


K31 Luyana K32 Mbowe K33 Kwangali K34 Mashi K35 Simaa K36 Sanjo K37 Kwangwa [K321 Mbume K322 Liyuwa K332 Manyo K333 Mbukushu K334 Mbogedu K351 Mulonga K352 Mwenyi K353 Koma K354 Imilangu K371 Kwandi]


K41 Totela K42 Subiya [K402 Fwe K411 Totela of Namibia]

Zone L


L11 Pende L12 Samba
& Holu L13 Kwese [L101 Sonde]


L21 Kete L22 Binji (Mbagani) L23 Songe L24 Luna [L201 Budya L202 Yazi L221 Lwalwa L231 Binji]


L31a Luba-Kasai L31b Lulua L32 Kanyoka L33 Luba-Katanga L34 Hemba L35 Sanga [L301 Kebwe L331 Zeela]


L41 Kaonde


L51 Salampasu L52 Lunda L53 Ruund [L511 Luntu]


L61 Mbwera L62 Nkoya [L601 Kolwe L602 Lushangi L603 Shasha]

Zone M


M11 Pimbwe M12 Rungwa M13 Fipa M14 Rungu M15 Mambwe [M131 Kuulwe]


M21 Wanda M22 Mwanga M23 Nyiha M24 Malila M25 Safwa M26 Iwa M27 Tambo [M201 Lambya M202 Sukwa]


M31 Nyakyusa [M301 Ndali M302 Penja]


M41 Taabwa M42 Bemba [M401 Bwile M402 Aushi]


M51 Biisa M52 Lala M53 Swaka M54 Lamba M55 Seba [M521 Ambo M522 Luano M541 Lima M542 Temba]


M61 Lenje M62 Soli M63 Ila M64 Tonga [M611 Lukanga Twa M631 Sala M632 Lundwe M633 Kafue Twa]

Zones N – S

Zone N


N11 Manda N12 Ngoni N13 Matengo N14 Mpoto N15 Tonga [N101 Ndendeule N102 Nindi N121 Ngoni of Malawi]


N21 Tumbuka [N201 Mwera of Mbamba Bay]


N31a Nyanja N31b Cewa N31c Manganja


N41 Nsenga N42 Kunda N43 Nyungwe N44 Sena N45[44] Rue N46[44] Podzo [N441 Sena-Malawi]

Zone P


P11 Ndengereko P12 Ruihi P13 Matumbi P14 Ngindo P15 Mbunga


P21 Yao P22 Mwera P23 Makonde P24 Ndonde P25 Mabiha


P31 Makua P32 Lomwe P33 Ngulu P34 Cuabo [P311 Koti P312 Sakati P331 Lomwe of Malawi P341 Moniga]

Zone R


R11 Umbundu R12 Ndombe R13 Nyaneka R14 Khumbi [R101 Kuvale R102 Kwisi R103 Mbali]


R21 Kwanyama R22 Ndonga R23 Kwambi R24 Ngandyera [R211 Kafima R212 Evale R213 Mbandja R214 Mbalanhu R215 Ndongwena R216 Kwankwa R217 Dombondola R218 Esinga R241 Kwaluudhi R242 Kolonkadhi-Eunda]


R31 Herero [R311 North-West Herero R312 Botswana


R41 Yei

Zone S


S11 Korekore S12 Zezuru S13a Manyika S13b Tebe S14 Karanga S15 Ndau S16 Kalanga


S21 Venda


S31a Tswana S31b Kgatla S31c Ngwatu S31d[311] Khalaxadi S32a Pedi S32b Lobedu S33 Sotho [S301 Phalaborwa S302 Kutswe S303 Pai S304 Pulana]


S41 Xhosa S42 Zulu S43 Swati S44 (Northern) Ndebele [S401 Old Mfengu S402 Bhaca S403 Hlubi S404 Phuthi S405 Nhlangwini S406 Lala S407 South Ndebele S408 Sumayela Ndebele]


S51 Tswa S52[53] Gwamba S53 Tsonga S54 Ronga [S511 Hlengwe]


S61 Copi S62 Tonga [S611 Lenge]

Note: The Guthrie classification is geographic and its groupings do not imply a relationship between the languages within them.

v t e


Main topic

Bantu peoples Bantu languages Bantu mythology


Bantu expansion Candomblé Bantu

Authority control

GND: 4112668-3 SUDO