Sociolinguistic Survey of Kunene Province-Part 1

Statement of Responsibility:
Jordan, Linda and Isata Manuel

This survey was conducted in the eastern part of Kunene Province in southern Angola, specifically in the communities of Ondjiva, Xangongo and Shangalala. The languages that were the main focus of this study were the local variants of the Wambo group (R20) including Kwanyama [kua], and the southernmost Nyaneka variant Nkumbi [khu], all belonging to Bantu Zone R (Guthrie 1970). The main purpose of the research was to investigate the relationships among neighbouring speech varieties in that area.

Mbadja is historically and officially (in Namibia) the eighth main Wambo variant, not a sub-variant of Kwanyama. It should thus be considered separately for reasons of identity, though linguistically it is the closest to Kwanyama of the eight. According to the group interviewees in Shangalala, Mbadja people (particularly children and youth) who have not had previous contact with speakers of Kwanyama do not understand everything they hear in that variant. Mbadja interviewees also displayed the attitude that Kwanyama is not their own language and that it is distinct from Mbadja.

The wordlists yielded mixed results, emphasising the similarity between Mbadja and Kwanyama while also pointing out Mbadjaâ s uniqueness. Overall, the balance of the evidence indicates that the Wambo variants are more similar to each other and to Nkumbi than to the Mwila subgroup of Nyaneka.

The Ndongona people live between the Dhimba and Wambo areas of Angolaâ s Kunene Province, near Calueque, but their identity and the classification of their language is difficult to ascertain. The general consensus among interviewees belonging to neighbouring ethnic groups seems to be that Ndongona is a combination of Wambo, Nyaneka and Herero. The Nyaneka variant Nkumbi may be its closest relative among the varieties included in this study, but it is likely to be even more closely related to Nghuanghua and Hinga, two other speech varieties mentioned by interviewees but not yet investigated directly.

33 pages
Language surveys
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