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Lingala language

Lingala language

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Encyclopedia
"Ngala language" redirects here. For Ba-Ngala, see Bangala language
Bangala language
Bangala, or Ngala, is a Bantu language spoken in the northeast part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in South Sudan, and the extreme western part of Uganda. A divergent form of Lingala, it's used as a lingua franca by people with different languages and rarely as a first language. The...

.

Lingala, or Ngala, is a Bantu
Bantu languages
The 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...

 language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 spoken throughout the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 (Congo-Kinshasa
Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

) and a large part of the Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo , sometimes known locally as Congo-Brazzaville, is a state in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.The region was dominated by...

 (Congo-Brazzaville
Brazzaville
-Transport:The city is home to Maya-Maya Airport and a railway station on the Congo-Ocean Railway. It is also an important river port, with ferries sailing to Kinshasa and to Bangui via Impfondo...

), as well as to some degree in Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

 and the Central African Republic
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic , is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It borders Chad in the north, Sudan in the north east, South Sudan in the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo in the south, and Cameroon in the west. The CAR covers a land area of about ,...

. It has over 10 million speakers. It is classified C.36D under the Guthrie system
Malcolm Guthrie
Malcolm Guthrie , professor of Bantu languages, is known primarily for his classification of Bantu languages...

 for classifying Bantu languages
Bantu languages
The 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...

 and C.40 under the SIL
SIL International
SIL International is a U.S.-based, worldwide, Christian non-profit organization, whose main purpose is to study, develop and document languages, especially those that are lesser-known, in order to expand linguistic knowledge, promote literacy, translate the Christian Bible into local languages,...

 system.

History


Lingala originated from boBangi, a language that was spoken along the Congo River
Congo River
The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of . It is the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged, though it has only one-fifth the volume of the world's largest river, the Amazon...

 between Lisala
Lisala
Lisala is the capital of Mongala District, in northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is located at around . The Congo River flows through the city. It is best known as the birthplace of Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled Zaire from 1965 to 1997....

 and Kinshasa
Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

. Bobangi functioned as a regional trade language before the creation of the Congo Free State
Congo Free State
The Congo Free State was a large area in Central Africa which was privately controlled by Leopold II, King of the Belgians. Its origins lay in Leopold's attracting scientific, and humanitarian backing for a non-governmental organization, the Association internationale africaine...

. In the last two decades of the 19th century, after the forces of Leopold II of Belgium
Leopold II of Belgium
Leopold II was the second king of the Belgians. Born in Brussels the second son of Leopold I and Louise-Marie of Orléans, he succeeded his father to the throne on 17 December 1865 and remained king until his death.Leopold is chiefly remembered as the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free...

 conquered the region and opened it to commercial exploitation, Bobangi came into wider use. The colonial administration, in need of a common language for the region, started to use the language for missionary and administrative purposes, calling it Bangala
Bangala language
Bangala, or Ngala, is a Bantu language spoken in the northeast part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in South Sudan, and the extreme western part of Uganda. A divergent form of Lingala, it's used as a lingua franca by people with different languages and rarely as a first language. The...

 to set it apart from the old Bobangi. Naturally, the language developed the typical characteristics of a common vernacular
Pidgin
A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common. It is most commonly employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the...

: compared to local Bantu languages, its sentence structure
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

, word structure
Morphology (linguistics)
In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

 and sounds
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

 are much simplified, and its speakers liberally borrow words and constructs from other languages they happen to know.

Around 1900, CICM missionaries started a project to 'purify' the language in order to make it 'pure Bantu' again. Meeuwis (1998:7) writes:
[M]issionaries, such as the Protestant W. Stapleton and later, and more influentially, E. De Boeck himself, judged that the grammar and lexicon of this language were too poor for it to function properly as a medium of education, evangelization, and other types of vertical communication with the Africans in the northwestern and central-western parts of the colony (..). They set out to 'correct' and 'expand' the language by drawing on lexical and grammatical elements from surrounding vernacular languages.


Meanwhile, the importance of Lingala as a vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

 has grown together with the size and importance of its main center of use, Kinshasa
Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

; e.g. Lingala has spread with the popularity of soukous
Soukous
Soukous is a dance music genre that originated in the two neighbouring countries of Belgian Congo and French Congo during the 1930s and early 1940s, and which has gained popularity throughout Africa...

 music, which originates from Kinshasa.

Name


The name Lingala first appears in a written form in a publication by the C.I.C.M. missionary Egide De Boeck (1903).
It avoids confusion: the Bangala (lit. "river people") are the people who live alongside the Congo River
Congo River
The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of . It is the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged, though it has only one-fifth the volume of the world's largest river, the Amazon...

,
while many others use Lingala as a first, second or third language.

Characteristics and usage


Lingala has many borrowings from French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, even in its basic vocabulary. The language also contains some Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

 influence, such as its words for butter
Butter
Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is generally used as a spread and a condiment, as well as in cooking applications, such as baking, sauce making, and pan frying...

 (mántéka), table
Table (furniture)
A table is a form of furniture with a flat and satisfactory horizontal upper surface used to support objects of interest, for storage, show, and/or manipulation...

 (mésa), shoe
Shoe
A shoe is an item of footwear intended to protect and comfort the human foot while doing various activities. Shoes are also used as an item of decoration. The design of shoes has varied enormously through time and from culture to culture, with appearance originally being tied to function...

s (sapátu), and some English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 or Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 influences; for instance, the word for milk
Milk
Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother's antibodies to the baby and can reduce the risk of many...

 (míliki), book
Book
A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

 (búku), or motor-car (mótuka). In practice, the extent of borrowing varies widely with speakers, and with the occasion.

Variations


The Lingala language can be divided in several dialects or variations. The major variations are considered to be Standard Lingala, Spoken Lingala, Kinshasa Lingala and Brazzaville Lingala.

Standard Lingala (called lingala littéraire or lingala classique in French) is mostly used in educational and news broadcastings on radio or television, in religious services in the Catholic Church and is the language taught as a subject at all educational levels. Standard Lingala is historically associated with the work of the Catholic Church and missionaries. It has a seven-vowel system /a/ /e/ /ɛ/ /i/ /o/ /ɔ/ /u/ with an obligatory tense-lax vowel harmony
Vowel harmony
Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels that occurs in some languages. In languages with vowel harmony, there are constraints on which vowels may be found near each other....

. It also has a full range of morphological noun prefixes with mandatory grammatical agreement system with subject–verb, or noun–modifier for each of class. Standard Lingala is largely used in formal functions.

Spoken Lingala (called lingala parlé in French) is the variation mostly used in the day-to-day lives of Lingalaphones. It has a full morphological noun prefix system, but the agreement system is more lax than the standard variation, i.e. noun-modifier agreement is reduced to two classes. Regarding phonology, there is also a seven-vowel system but the vowel harmony is not mandatory. This variation of Lingala is historically associated with the Protestant missionaries' work. Spoken Lingala is largely used in informal functions, and the majority of Lingala songs use spoken Lingala over other variations. Modern spoken Lingala is increasingly influenced by French; French verbs, for example, may be "lingalized" adding Lingala inflection prefixes and suffixes: "acomprenaki te" or "acomprendraki te" (he did not understand, using the French word comprendre) instead of classic Lingala "asímbaki ntína te" [literally: s/he grasped/held the root/cause not].

Vowels

Front
Front vowel
A front vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also...

Back
Back vowel
A back vowel is a type of vowel sound used in spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a back vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Back vowels are sometimes also called dark...

Close
Close vowel
A close vowel is a type of vowel sound used in many spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close vowel is that the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.This term is prescribed by the...

i u
Close-mid
Close-mid vowel
A close-mid vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close-mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned two-thirds of the way from a close vowel to a mid vowel...

e o
Open-mid
Open-mid vowel
An open-mid vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of an open-mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned two-thirds of the way from an open vowel to a mid vowel...

ɛ ɔ
Open
Open vowel
An open vowel is defined as a vowel sound in which the tongue is positioned as far as possible from the roof of the mouth. Open vowels are sometimes also called low vowels in reference to the low position of the tongue...

a

IPA Example (IPA) Example (written) Meaning Notes
i /lilála/ lilála orange
u /kulutu/ kulutu oldest child
e /eloᵑɡi/ elongi face
o /mobáli/ mobáli masculine pronounced slightly higher than the cardinal o,
realized as [o̝]
ɛ /lɛlɔ́/ lɛlɔ́ today
ɔ /ᵐbɔ́ᵑɡɔ/ money
a /áwa/ áwa here

Vowel harmony


Lingala words show vowel harmony to some extent. The close-mid vowels /e/ and /o/ normally do not mix with the open-mid vowels /ɛ/ and /ɔ/ in words. For example, the words 'fishhook' and 'mouse trap' are found, but not or .

Vowel shift


The Lingala spoken in Kinshasa shows a vowel shift from /ɔ/ to /o/, leading to the absence of the phoneme /ɔ/ in favor of /o/. The same occurs with /ɛ/ and /e/, leading to just /e/. So in Kinshasa, a native speaker will say as /ᵐbóte/, compared to the more traditional pronunciation of /ᵐbɔ́tɛ/.

Consonants

Labial
Labial consonant
Labial consonants are consonants in which one or both lips are the active articulator. This precludes linguolabials, in which the tip of the tongue reaches for the posterior side of the upper lip and which are considered coronals...

Alveolar
Alveolar consonant
Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the superior teeth...

Post-
alveolar
Postalveolar consonant
Postalveolar consonants are consonants articulated with the tongue near or touching the back of the alveolar ridge, further back in the mouth than the alveolar consonants, which are at the ridge itself, but not as far back as the hard palate...

Palatal
Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Nasal
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

m n ɲ
Plosive p b t d k ɡ
Fricative
Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

f v s z ʃ (ʒ)
Approximant
Approximant consonant
Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough or with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives, which do produce a turbulent airstream, and vowels, which produce no...

l j



IPA Example (IPA) Example (written) Meaning
p /napɛ́si/ I give
ᵐp /ᵐpɛᵐbɛ́ni/ near
b /boliᵑɡo/ love
ᵐb /ᵐbɛlí/ knife
t /litéja/ lesson
ⁿt /ⁿtɔ́ᵑɡɔ́/ dawn
d /daidai/ sticky
ⁿd /ⁿdeko/ sibling, cousin, relative
k /mokɔlɔ/ day
ᵑk /ᵑkóló/ owner
ɡ /ɡalamɛ́lɛ/ grammar
ᵑɡ /ᵑɡáí/ me
m /mamá/ mother
n /bojini/ hate
ɲ /ɲama/ animal
f /fɔtɔ́/ photograph
v /veló/ bicycle
s /sɔ̂lɔ/ truly
ⁿs /ɲɔ́ⁿsɔ/ all
z /zɛ́lɔ/ sand
ⁿz (1) /ⁿzáᵐbe/ God
ʃ /ʃakú/ or African grey parrot
l /ɔ́lɔ/ gold
j /jé/ him; her (object pronoun)
w /wápi/ where


(1) [ᶮʒ] is allophonic with ʒ depending on the dialect

Prenasalized consonants


The prenasalized stops formed with a nasal followed by a voiceless plosive are allophonic
Allophone
In phonology, an allophone is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds used to pronounce a single phoneme. For example, and are allophones for the phoneme in the English language...

 to the voiceless plosives alone in some variations of Lingala.: [ᵐp] or [p]
  • e.g.: is pronounced [ᵐpɛᵐbɛ́ni] but in some variations [pɛᵐbɛ́ni]: [ⁿt] or [t]
    e.g.: is pronounced ⁿtɔ́ᵑɡó but in some variations [tɔ́ᵑɡó]: [ᵑk] or [k]
    e.g.: (fork) is pronounced [ᵑkaɲa] but in some variations [kaɲa]: [ⁿs] or [s] (inside a word)
    e.g.: is pronounced [ɲɔ́ⁿsɔ] but in some variations [ɲɔ́sɔ]

The prenasalized voiced occlusives, /ᵐb/, /ⁿd/, /ᵑɡ/, /ⁿz/ do not vary.

Tones


Lingala being a tonal language, tone is a distinguishing feature in minimal pair
Minimal pair
In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, which differ in only one phonological element, such as a phone, phoneme, toneme or chroneme and have distinct meanings...

s, e.g.: moto (human being) and motó (head), or kokoma (to write) and kokóma (to arrive). There are two tones possible, the normal one is low and the second one is high. There is a third, less common tone – starting high, dipping low and then ending high – all within the same vowel sound, e.g.: bôngó (therefore).

Tonal morphology


Tense morphemes carry tones.
  • koma (komL-a : write) inflected gives
    • simple present
      Simple present
      The simple present or present simple is one of the present tenses used in modern English, the others being the present continuous and the emphatic present. It is called "present" because it is often used in referring to the present time, and it is called "simple" because it consists of only a...

       L-aL :
      nakoma naL-komL-aL (I write)
    • subjunctive H-aL :
      nákoma naH-komL-aL (I would write)
    • present
      Present tense
      The present tense is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time. This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb...

      :
      nakomí naL-komL-iH (I have been writing)
  • sepela (seLpel-a : enjoy) inflected gives
    • simple present
      Simple present
      The simple present or present simple is one of the present tenses used in modern English, the others being the present continuous and the emphatic present. It is called "present" because it is often used in referring to the present time, and it is called "simple" because it consists of only a...

       L-aL :
      osepela oL-seLpelL-aL (you-SG enjoy)
    • subjunctive H-aL :
      ósepéla oH-seLpelH-aH (you-SG would enjoy)
    • present
      Present tense
      The present tense is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time. This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb...

       L-iH:
      osepelí oL-seLpelL-iH (you-SG have been enjoying)

Noun class system


Like all Bantu languages
Bantu languages
The 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...

, Lingala has a noun class
Noun class
In linguistics, the term noun class refers to a system of categorizing nouns. A noun may belong to a given class because of characteristic features of its referent, such as sex, animacy, shape, but counting a given noun among nouns of such or another class is often clearly conventional...

 system in which nouns are classified according to the prefixes they bear and according to the prefixes they trigger in sentences. The table below shows the noun classes of Lingala, ordered according to the numbering system that is widely used in descriptions of Bantu languages.
classnoun prefixexampletranslation
1 mo- mopési servant
2 ba- bapési servants
3 mo- mokíla tail
4 mi- mikíla tails
5 li- liloba word
6 ma- maloba words
7 e- elokó jar, stone bottle
8 bi- bilokó jars, stone bottles
9 m-/n- ntaba goat
10 m-/n- ntaba goat (pl.)
9a Ø sánzá moon
10a Ø sánzá moon (pl.)
11 lo- lolemo tongue
14 bo- bosoto dirt


Individual classes pair up with each other to form singular/plural pairs, sometimes called 'genders'. There are seven genders in total. The singular classes 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 take their plural forms from classes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, respectively. Additionally, many household items found in class 9 take a class 2 prefix (ba) in the plural: lutu > balutu 'spoon', mesa > bamesa 'table', sani > basani 'plate'. Words in class 11 usually take a class 10 plural. Most words from class 14 (abstract nouns) do not have a plural counterpart.

Class 9 and 10 have a nasal prefix, which assimilates
Assimilation (linguistics)
Assimilation is a common phonological process by which the sound of the ending of one word blends into the sound of the beginning of the following word. This occurs when the parts of the mouth and vocal cords start to form the beginning sounds of the next word before the last sound has been...

 to the following consonant. Thus, the prefix shows up as 'n' on words that start with t or d, e.g. ntaba 'goat', but as 'm' on words that start with b or p (e.g. mbisi 'fish'). There is also a prefixless class 9a and 10a, exemplified by sánzá > sánzá 'moon(s) or month(s)'. Possible ambiguities are solved by the context.

Noun class prefixes do not show up only on the noun itself, but serve as markers throughout the whole sentence. In the sentences below, the class prefixes are underlined. (There is a special verbal form 'a' of the prefix for class 1 nouns.) (CL1.teacher CL1.tall that CL1:recovered) That tall teacher recovered (CL2.people CL2.praise name of You) (Let) people praise Your name (a sentence from the Lord's Prayer)

Only to a certain extent, noun class allocation is semantically
Semantics
Semantics is the study of meaning. It focuses on the relation between signifiers, such as words, phrases, signs and symbols, and what they stand for, their denotata....

 governed. Classes 1/2, as in all Bantu languages, mainly contain words for human beings; similarly, classes 9/10 contain many words for animals. In other classes, semantical regularities are mostly absent or are obscured by many exceptions.

Verbal extensions


There are 4 morphemes modifying verbs. They are added to some verb root in the following order :
  1. Reversive (-ol-)
    e.g.: kozinga to wrap and kozingola to develop
  2. Causative (-is-)
    e.g. : koyéba to know and koyébisa to inform
  3. Applicative (-el-)
    e.g. : kobíka to heal (self), to save (self) and kobíkela to heal (someone else), to save (someone)
  4. Passive (-am-)
    e.g. : koboma to kill and kobomama to be killed
  5. Reciprocal or stationary (-an-, sometimes -en-)
    e.g. : kokúta to find and kokútana to meet

Tense inflections


The first tone segment affects the subject part of the verb, the second tone segment attaches to the semantic morpheme attached to the root of the verb.
  • present perfect (LH-í)
  • simple present (LL-a)
  • recurrent present (LL-aka)
  • undefined recent past (LH-ákí)
  • undefined distant past (LH-áká)
  • future (L-ko-L-a)
  • subjunctive (HL-a)

Writing system


Lingala is more a spoken language than a written language, and has several different writing systems. Most of those are ad hoc. Due to the low literacy of Lingala speakers in Lingala (in the Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo , sometimes known locally as Congo-Brazzaville, is a state in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.The region was dominated by...

 literacy rate in Lingala as a first language is between 10% to 30%), its popular orthography is very flexible and varies from one Congo to the other. Some orthographies are heavily influenced by the French language orthography; including double S, ss, to transcribe [s] (in the Republic of the Congo); ou for [u] (in the Republic of the Congo); i with umlaut, aï, to transcribe [áí] or [aí]; e with acute accent, é, to transcribe [e]; e to transcribe [ɛ], o with acute accent, ó, to transcribe [ɔ] or sometimes [o] in opposition to o transcribing [o] or [ɔ]; i or y can both transcribe [j]. The allophones are also found as alternating forms in the popular orthography; sango is an alternative to nsango (information or news); nyonso, nyoso, nionso, nioso (every) are all transcriptions of .

In 1976 the Société Zaïroise des Linguistes (Zairian
Zaire
The Republic of Zaire was the name of the present Democratic Republic of the Congo between 27 October 1971 and 17 May 1997. The name of Zaire derives from the , itself an adaptation of the Kongo word nzere or nzadi, or "the river that swallows all rivers".-Self-proclaimed Father of the Nation:In...

 Linguists Society) adopted a writing system for Lingala, using the open e (ɛ) and the open o (ɔ) to write the vowels [ɛ] and [ɔ], and sporadic usage of accents to mark tone. Also, the limitations of input methods prevents Lingala writers from easily using the ɛ and ɔ and the accents. For example, it is almost impossible to type Lingala according to that convention with a common English or French keyboard. The convention of 1976 reduced the alternative orthography of characters but did not enforce tone marking. The lack of consistent accentuation is lessened by the disambiguation due to context.

The popular orthographies seem to be a step ahead of any academic based orthography. Many Lingala books, papers, even the translation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

 and more recently, Internet forums, newsletters, and major websites, such as Google's Lingala, do not use Lingala specific characters (ɛ and ɔ). Tone marking is in most literary works.

Alphabet


The Lingala language has 35 letter
Letter (alphabet)
A letter is a grapheme in an alphabetic system of writing, such as the Greek alphabet and its descendants. Letters compose phonemes and each phoneme represents a phone in the spoken form of the language....

s and digraph
Digraph (orthography)
A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used to write one phoneme or a sequence of phonemes that does not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined...

s. The digrams each have a specific order in the alphabet, for example mza will be expected to be ordered before mba, because the digram mb follows the letter m. The letters r and h are rare but present in borrowed words.
The accents indicate the tones :
  • no accent for default tone, the low tone
  • acute accent for the high tone
  • circumflex for descending tone
  • caron for ascending tone

Variants Example
a A á â ǎ nyama, matáta, sâmbóle, libwǎ
b B bísó
c C ciluba
d D madɛ́su
e E é ê ě komeka, mésa, kobênga
ɛ Ɛ ɛ́ ɛ̂ ɛ̌ lɛlɔ́, lɛ́ki, tɛ̂
f F lifúta
g G kogánga
gb Gb gbagba
h H bohlu (bohrium)
i I í î ǐ wápi, zíko, tî, esǐ
k K kokoma
l L kolála
m M kokóma
mb Mb kolámba, mbwá, mbɛlí
mp Mp límpa
n N líno
nd Nd ndeko
ng Ng ndéngé
nk Nk nkámá
ns Ns nsɔ́mi
nt Nt ntaba
ny Ny nyama
nz Nz nzala
o o ó ô ǒ moto, sóngóló, sékô
ɔ Ɔ ɔ́ ɔ̂ ɔ̌ sɔsɔ, yɔ́, sɔ̂lɔ, tɔ̌
p p pɛnɛpɛnɛ
r R malaríya
s S kopésa
t T tatá
u U ú butú, koúma
v V kovánda
w W káwa
y Y koyéba
z Z kozala

Sample



The Lord's Prayer (Catholic version)
Tatá wa bísó, ozala o likoló,
bato bakúmisa Nkómbó ya Yɔ́,
bandima bokonzi bwa Yɔ́, mpo elingo Yɔ́,
basálá yangó o nsé,
lokóla bakosalaka o likoló
Pésa bísó lɛlɔ́ biléi bya mokɔlɔ na mokɔlɔ,
límbisa mabé ma bísó,
lokóla bísó tokolimbisaka baníngá.
Sálisa bísó tondima masɛ́nginyá tê,
mpe bíkisa bísó o mabé.

Na yɔ́ bokonzi,
nguyá na nkembo,
o bileko o binso sékô.
Amen.


The Lord's Prayer (Protestant version used in Ubangi-Mongala region)
Tatá na bísó na likoló,
nkómbó na yɔ́ ezala mosanto,
bokonzi na yɔ́ eya,
mokano na yɔ́ esalama na nsé
lokola na likoló.
Pésa bísó kwanga ekokí lɛlɔ́.
Límbisa bísó nyongo na bísó,
pelamoko elimbisi bísó bango nyongo na bango.
Kamba bísó kati na komekama tê,
kasi bíkisa bísó na mabé.

Mpo ete na yɔ́ ezalí bokonzi,
na nguyá, na nkembo,
lobiko na lobiko.
Amen.

See also


External links



Initiation to Lingala