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Umbundu Language

Umbundu Language
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The Umbundu language, also known as Kimbari, M’bundo, Mbali, Mbari, Mbundu, Mbundu Benguella, Nano, Olumbali, Ovimbundu, South Mbundu, or Umbundo, belongs to the Niger-Congo language family. It is a Bantu language is widely spoken in Angola.  To be exact, the language is widespread in West central, mostly Huambo, Cuanza Sul, and Benguela provinces, as well as Bie, Huila, Namibe, and Bengo provinces.

The speakers of Umbundu language are known as Ovimbundu. This ethnic group is constituting about a third of Angola’s population. That is why the Umbundu language is considered to be the most widely used language in the country. Ovimbundu people, as well as Umbundu language speakers, can be found in the Central Highlands of Angola and the coastal region west of these highlands, including the cities of Benguela and Lobito. This area is considered to be the Ovimbundu’s homeland. It is worth to mention that due to the internal migration, Ovimbundu people can also be found in the capital Luanda and its surrounding province, as well as in Lubango.

The Umbundu language has one distinctive dialect – Mbalundu. The written Umbundu language is based on the Latin script and the spoken language is has three tones: low, high and down-stepped high.

Although there is nearly no information about the history of the Umbundu language, it is known that the first Umbumdu dictionary and grammar appeared nearly at the same time with the translation of the Bible to the Umbundu language in 1963.

Today, according to the 2012 World Factbook, the total population of the Umbundu speakers is estimated at 6 million people who live in Angola.