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Kimbundu: Wikis


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Spoken in Angola Angola
Region malange Province
Total speakers 3,000,000 (1999)[1]
Language family Niger-Congo
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 kmb
ISO 639-3 kmb

Kimbundu (Mbundu language) is one of the most widely spoken languages in Angola, especially in the north-west of the country, notably in the Malanje Province.

There are eleven variants of the Kimbundu language: Ngola, Dembo, Jinga, Bondo, Bângala, Songo, Ibaco, Luanda, Quibala, Libolo and Quissama.

During the Portuguese colonial period, a 1919 decree banned the use of local languages in schools and made Portuguese obligatory. This heavily reduced the use of Kimbundu amongst educated and urban populations in favour of Portuguese.

Since the 1960s, Ambundu populations which had emigrated from rural to urban areas in the west of Angola, notably Luanda and Malanje, have helped to produce a mix of Kimbudu and Portuguese that they call Ambaca. In order to distinguish themselves from the rural Mbundu populations, they also refer to themselves as camudongo Ambundu or Akwaluanda.


The Kimbundu script was developed by Capuchin and Jesuit missionaries. While they produced many texts and grammars, most of them demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding or oversimplification of the Kimbundu language. The unfortunate effects of this are still felt today, though since independence, great strides to elaborate and codify orthography and grammar of all Angolan national languages have been made.

Kimbundu uses the relatively shallow orthography standardized by the MPLA for use in all Angolan national languages. Important differences from the Portuguese-based orthography used by the colonizers include the omission of the consonant "r" (since there is no [r] in Kimbundu) and the rules governing vowel orthography (diphthongs are not allowed and vowels are thus changed to "w" or "y" depending on the environment). It has 5 vowels (a, e, i, o, u), the u also having the function of a semi-vowel. Certain consonants are represented by two letters, such as mb in mbambi (gazelle), or nj in njila (bird).


muthu, "person", kima, "thing"; kudya, "food"; tubya, "fire"; lumbu, "wall"

Some Kimbundu words were influential to Romance languages like Portuguese, with words like banjo (supposedly from mbanza), bwe, baza, kuatu, kamba, arimo, mleke, quilombo (from kilombo), Quimbanda, tanga, xinga, bunda, etc. Also the word Banjo is thought to be derived from Kimbundu

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