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Title: Kimbundu  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Portuguese vocabulary, List of official languages, Angolan Portuguese, Angola, Languages of Angola
Collection: Kimbundu Languages, Languages of Angola, Northern Mbundu
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


North Mbundu
Native to Angola
Region Luanda Province, Bengo Province , Malanje Province
Ethnicity Ambundu
Native speakers
4 million (2012)[1]
Kimbundu proper (Ngola)
Mbamba (Njinga)
Language codes
ISO 639-2 kmb
ISO 639-3 kmb
Glottolog kimb1241[2]

Kimbundu, or North Mbundu, one of two Bantu languages called Mbundu (see Umbundu), is the second-most-widely spoken Bantu language in Angola. It is concentrated in the north-west of the country, notably in the Luanda Province, the Bengo Province, the Malanje Province and the Cuanza Norte Province. It is spoken by the Ambundu.[4]

Maho (2009) distinguishes two primary dialects: Kimbundu proper, including Ngola, and Mbamba, incl. Njinga.[3] The other Kimbundu languages are sometimes considered dialects as well.

In part of the Malanje Province, culturally "assimilated" Ambundu populations produced a mix of Kimbundu and Portuguese called Ambaca, whose speakers are called Ambaquistas.


  • Script 1
  • Vocabulary 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


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 the orthography and grammar of the most important languages spoken in Angola, and recognised as "national languages", have been made.

Kimbundu uses the relatively shallow orthography standardized by the ruling 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"
  • kamba, "friend"
  • hoji, "lion"
  • nzamba, "elephant"
  • malembe, "langsam"

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.


  1. ^ Kimbundu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Kimbundu".  
  3. ^ a b Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  4. ^ Ambundu is the short form for Akwa Mbundu and 'Akwa' means 'from', or 'of', or more originally 'originally from' and 'belonging to'. In Kimbundu language the particle Akwa is shortened into simply A, so that instead of Akwa Mbndu it becomes Ambundu; similarly the term Akwa Ngola becomes ANgola, then Angola; Ngola was title for kings in Northern Angolan kingdom in the past, before the Portuguese invasion.

External links

  • By Herbert Willoughby Woodward (1882)Collections for a handbook of the Boondéi language
  • Emuseum article on Kimbundu
  • PanAfrican L10n page on Kimbundu
  • Kimbundu people
  • Ethnic groups of Angola
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