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Kongo language

Kongo language

Learn more about Kongo language

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Spoken in: Central Africa
Total speakers: 7 million
Language family: Niger-Congo
      Narrow Bantu
Official status
Official language of: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Angola
Regulated by: no official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1: kg
ISO 639-2: kon
ISO/FDIS 639-3: kon 

Kikongo or Kongo is the Bantu language spoken by the Bakongo people living in the tropical forests of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo and Angola. It was the base for Kituba, a Bantu creole and lingua franca throughout much of western central Africa. It was spoken by many Africans from the region who were taken into slavery and sold to the Americas. For this reason, while Kikongo still is spoken in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo and Angola, Creolized forms of the language are found in ritual speech of African derived religions in Brazil, Jamaica and Cuba, and is one of the sources of the Gullah peoples language and the Palenquero creole in Colombia. The vast majority of present-day speakers live in Africa. There are roughly seven million native speakers of Kikongo, with perhaps two million more who use it as a second language.

Prayer in Kikongo
Map of the area where Kikongo and Kituba as the lingua franca are spoken

It is also the base for a creole used throughout the region: Kituba also called Kikongo de L'état or Kikongo ya Leta ("Kikongo of the state" in French or Kikongo), Kituba and Monokituba (also Munukituba). The constitution of the Republic of the Congo uses the name Kitubà, and the one of the Democratic Republic of the Congo uses the term Kikongo, even if Kituba is used in the administration.

[edit] Trivia

  • The English word "goober", meaning peanut, comes from the Kongo word "nguba".
  • While the complete Christian Bible was first published in Kikongo in 1905, Kikongo was the earliest Bantu language which was committed to writing and had the earliest dictionary of any Bantu language. A catechism was produced under the authority of Diogo Gomes, a Jesuit born in Kongo of European parents in 1557, but no version of it exists today. In 1624 Mateus Cardoso, another Jesuit edited and published a Kikongo translation of the Portuguese catechism of Marcos Jorge. The preface informs us that the translation was done by Kongo teachers from São Salvador (modern Mbanza Kongo) and was probably partially the work of Felix do Espirito Santo (also a Kongo). The dictionary was written in about 1648 for the use of Capuchin missionaries and the principal author was Manuel Robredo, a secular priest from Kongo (who became a Capuchin as Francisco de São Salvador). In the back of this dictionary is found a sermon of two pages written only in Kikongo. The dictionary has some 10,000 words.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

ast:Llingua congo

br:Kongoeg da:Kikongo de:Kikongo es:Idioma kikongo fr:Kikongo ko:콩고어 kg:Kikongo ln:Kikɔ́ngɔ nl:Kikongo ja:コンゴ語 pl:Język kongo pt:Quicongo fi:Kongon kieli sv:Kikongo

Kongo language

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