Bantu Languages

The Bantu languages, technically the Narrow Bantu languages, constitute a traditional sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages. There are about 250 Bantu languages by the criterion of mutual intelligibility, though the distinction between language and dialect is often unclear, and Ethnologue counts 535 languages. Bantu languages are spoken largely east and south of the present day country of Cameroon; i.e., in the regions commonly known as Central Africa, East Africa, and Southern Africa. Parts of the Bantu area include languages from other language families (see map).

The Bantu language with the largest total number of speakers is Swahili; however, nearly all speakers know it as a second language. According to Ethnologue, there are over 40 million L2 speakers, but only about 800,000 native speakers.

According to Ethnologue, Shona is the most widely spoken as a first language, with 10.8 million speakers, followed closely by Zulu, with 10.3 million. Ethnologue also 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

Ethnologue separates Kinyarwanda and Kirundi, which are largely mutually intelligible and hence often considered dialects of a single Rwanda-Rundi language. These two, grouped together, have 12.4 million speakers according to Ethnologue. (Other estimates may be significantly larger or smaller. Estimates of number of speakers of most languages vary widely, due both to the lack of accurate statistics in most third-world countries and the difficulty in defining exactly where the boundaries of a language lie, particularly in the presence of a dialect continuum.)

Bantu languages are believed to have originated in what is now Cameroon in West Africa. An estimated 2500–3000 years ago, speakers of the proto-Bantu language began a series of migrations eastward and southward, carrying agriculture with them. This Bantu expansion came to dominate Sub-Saharan Africa east of Cameroon, an area where Bantu peoples now constitute nearly the entire population.

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

Read more about Bantu Languages:  Classification, Language Structure, Notable Bantu Languages, Geographic Areas, Bantu Words Popularised in Western Cultures

Other articles related to "bantu languages, language, languages, bantu":

Attributive Verb - Bantu Languages
... In the Bantu languages, attributive verbs are formed by the addition of the 'pre-prefix' (or 'initial vowel') ...
Sotho Orthography - Word Division
... Like all other Bantu languages, Sesotho is an agglutinative language spoken conjunctively however, like many Bantu languages it is written disjunctively ... European word division used for writing the language, in contrast with some Bantu languages such as the South African Nguni languages ...
Noun Class - Language Families - Niger–Congo Languages - Bantu Languages
... According to Carl Meinhof, the Bantu languages have a total of 22 noun classes called nominal classes (this notion was introduced by W.H.J ... While no single language is known to express all of them, most of them have at least 10 noun classes ... Specialists in Bantu emphasize that there is a clear difference between genders (such as known from Afro-Asiatic and Indo-European) and nominal classes (such as known ...
Sotho Verbs - Verbal Derivatives - Compounding of Extensions
... Like all other Bantu languages, Sesotho has inherited certain restrictions on the order of the extensions ... The most basic rule (which is broken by very few languages) is that the passive and the short causative always follow all the other extensions (including the perfect -il-, which is always used with the final vowel -e) ... Although it is probable that Proto-Bantu had fairly strict restrictions on the order of the other extensions, these rules have been relaxed somewhat in modern Bantu languages ...
Bantu Languages - Bantu Words Popularised in Western Cultures
... Some words from various Bantu languages have been borrowed into western languages ... These include Bomba Bongos Boogie-woogie Bwana Candombe Chimpanzee Conga Goobers Gumbo Hakuna matata Impala Indaba Jenga Jumbo Kalimba Kwanzaa Mamba Mambo Mbira Marimba Rumba Safari Samba Simba Ubuntu A case has been made out for borrowings of many place-names and even misremembered rhymes such as "Here we go looby-loo.. ...

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