Lingala language

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Lingala, or Ngala, is a Bantu language spoken throughout the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) and a large part of the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), as well as to some degree in Angola and the Central African Republic. It has over 10 million speakers. It is classed C.36D under the Guthrie system for classifying Bantu languages and C.40 under the SIL system.

Contents

History

Lingala originated from Bobangi, a language that was spoken along the Congo River between Lisala and Kinshasa. Bobangi functioned as a regional trade language before the creation of the Congo Free State. In the last two decades of the 19th century, after the forces of Leopold II of Belgium 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 to set it apart from the old Bobangi. Naturally, the language developed the typical characteristics of a common vernacular: compared to local Bantu languages, its sentence structure, word structure and sounds are much simplified, and its speakers liberally borrow words and constructs from other languages they happen to know.

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