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Languages of Angola

Languages of Angola
NationalAll recognized languages of Angola are "national languages"
ForeignEnglish, French

The languages of Angola are predominantly Bantu and Portuguese, with a small minority of !Kung and Khoe speakers. About 39 languages are spoken in Angola.[1] According to Ethnologue; there are 47 languages in Angola. 1 is extinct, and 46 are living. Out of the 46 living languages, 41 are indigenous, and 5 are non-indigenous. Additionally, 6 are institutional, 16 are developing, 19 are vigorous, and 5 are in trouble.[2]

European languages

Portuguese is the sole official language. Due to cultural, social and political mechanisms which date back to the colonial history, the number of native Portuguese speakers is large and growing.[3] A 2012 study by the Angolan National Institute for Statistics found that Portuguese is the mother tongue of 39% of the population.[1][4] It is spoken as a second language by many more throughout the country, and younger urban generations are moving towards the dominant or exclusive use of Portuguese. The 2014 population census found that about 71% of the nearly 25.8 million inhabitants of Angola speak Portuguese at home.[5][6][7][8]

In urban areas, 85% of the population declared to speak Portuguese at home in the 2014 census, against 49% in rural areas.[7] Portuguese was quickly adopted by Angolans in mid-twentieth century as a lingua franca among the various ethnic groups. After the Angolan Civil War, many people moved to the cities where they learned Portuguese. When they returned to the countryside, more people were speaking Portuguese as a first language. The variant of the Portuguese language used in Angola is known as Angolan Portuguese. Phonetically, this variant is very similar to the Mozambican variant with some exceptions.[9][10] In some respects, Angolan Portuguese resembles that of a pidgin.[11]

However, in Cabinda, wedged between two French-speaking countries — the DRC and the Congo — many people speak French as well as, or better than, Portuguese. In fact, of the literate population, 90 percent speak French while 10 percent speak Portuguese.[12] Also, the Angolan Bakongo who were exiled in the Democratic Republic of the Congo usually speak better French and Lingala than Portuguese and Kikongo.[1]

West Africans speak English or French and their native African languages and are usually learning at least some Portuguese. The foreign language mostly learned by Angolans is English, but among the Bakongo (in the Northwest and Cabinda) French is often more important. English will soon be a required subject in Angolan schools. French was previously widely offered as an elective.[13]

African languages

All native languages of Angola are considered to be national languages. After independence, the government said it would choose six to be developed as literary languages. The six languages vary between government pronouncements, but commonly included are Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo (presumably the Fiote of Cabinda), Chokwe, Kwanyama (Ovambo), and Mbunda (never clearly defined; may be Nyemba, Luchazi, or indeterminate).[14][15] Angolan radio transmits in fourteen of the "main" national languages: Bangala ('Mbangala'), Chokwe, Fiote, Herero ('Helelo'), Kikongo, Kimbundu, Kwanyama, Lunda, Ngangela, Ngoya, Nyaneka, Ovambo ('Oxiwambo'), Songo, Umbundu.[16] Some of the national languages are used in Angolan schools, including the provision of teaching materials such as books, but there is a shortage of teachers.[7]

Umbundu is the most widely-spoken Bantu language, spoken natively by about 23 percent of the population, about 5.9 million. It is mainly spoken in the center and south of the country.[7] Kimbundu is spoken in Luanda Province and adjacent provinces. Kikongo is spoken in the northwest, including the exclave of Cabinda.[17] About 8.24% of Angolans use Kikongo. Fiote is spoken by about 2.9%, mainly in Cabinda.[7] Lingala is also spoken in Angola[18]

The San people speak languages from two families, the !Kung and Khoe, though only a few hundred speak the latter. The majority of San fled to South Africa after the end of the civil war. The extinct Kwadi language may have been distantly related to Khoe, and Kwisi is entirely unknown; their speakers were neither Khoisan nor Bantu.[19]

Asian languages

A (very small) number of Angolans of Lebanese descent speak Arabic and/or French. Due to increasing Angola-China relations, there is now a sinophone community of about 300,000.[20]

List of Languages of Angola[21]

Rank Languages Number of speakers in Angola
1 Cokwe/Chokwe 456,000
2 Dhimba/Zemba 18,000
3 Gciriku 24,000
4 Himba/Herero 20,000
5 Holu 23,100
6 Khongo 20,000
7 Khwedam 200
8 Kibala 2,630
9 Kikongo 2,000,000
10 Kilari Unknown number in Angola
11 Kimbundu 1,700,000
12 Kung-Ekoka 5,500
13 Kuvale 70,000
14 Kwadi No known native speakers in Angola
15 Kwandu 6,000
16 Kwangali 22,000
17 Luba-Kasai 60,000
18 Lucazi 400,000
19 Luimbi 43,900
20 Lunda 178,000
21 Luvale 464,000
22 Makoma 3,000
23 Mashi 2,630
24 Mbangala 400,000
25 Mbukushu 4,000
26 Mbunda 135,000
27 Mbwela 222,000
28 Mpinda 30,000
29 Ndombe 22,300
30 Ngandyera 13,100
31 Ngendelengo 900
32 Nkangala 22,300
33 Nkumbi 150,000
34 Northwestern !Kung 5,630
35 Nyaneka 300,000
36 Nyemba 222,000
37 Nyengo 9,380
38 Oshiwambo (Kwanyama/Ndonga) 461,000
39 Portuguese 15,470,000
40 Ruund 98,500
41 Sama 24,000
42 Songo 50,000
43 Suku 30,000
44 Umbundu 6,000,000
45 Yaka 200,000
46 Yauma 17,100
47 Yombe 39,400

See also

External links


  1. ^ a b c Angola Ethnologue
  2. ^ "Angola". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  3. ^ During late colonialism, 1962-1975, when all Angolans were considered as Portuguese citizens with equal rights, many black middle class families in the cities refused to teach their children native languages, so that they could compete with the whites, speaking Portuguese the same way.
  4. ^ []
  5. ^ "População de Angola sobe para mais de 25,7 milhões de pessoas". Dinheiro Digital. Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  6. ^ "Entre os de 1ª e os de 2ª já somos mais de 25,7 milhões". Folha 8. Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Angola: português é falado por 71,15% de angolanos". Observatório da Língua Portuguesa. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  8. ^ "Quantos falantes de português existem?". Retrieved 2016-02-21.
  9. ^ []
  10. ^ Clavis Prophetarum. "Da situação da língua portuguesa em Angola". Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  11. ^ Portuguese language in Angola: luso-creoles' missing link? John M. Lipski
  12. ^ Pike, John. "Cabinda". Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  13. ^ "In Angola, Education Ministry Aims to Expand Teaching of English". Voice of America. 28 April 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  14. ^ "Serviços Culturais da Embaixada de Angola em Portugal". Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  15. ^ Angola Harmonização das línguas bantu dificultada pela fonética e grafia
  16. ^ Rádio N’Gola Yetu Archived 2015-11-12 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Angola: Language Situation (2005). Keith Brown (ed.). Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2 ed.). Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-044299-4.
  18. ^ "Lingala". Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  19. ^ Matthias Brenzinger, 1992. Language death: factual and theoretical explorations with special reference to East Africa, p. 367.
  20. ^ "The Benguela Railway 2012, Part 1". Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  21. ^ "Angola". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-07-19.