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ZAMBIA
Language

Language

There are 73 ethnic groups in Zambia and about 20 major languages can be distinguished, which all belong to the Bantu languages. Many languages are divided into two or three dialects, some even into more than ten. In fact, every tribe in Zambia has its own dialect, and that dialect is the main means of distinction.

The official language in Zambia is English and is spoken almost everywhere, even in the more remote areas. In everyday traffic, a language consisting of African, English and Bantu words and expressions is widely used, the so-called Kitchen Kaffir.

Remarkable in African English is the repetition to emphasise something: if you burn yourself it is 'hot hot'; green fields after a rain are 'green green' and a full bus is 'full full'. English words like bread, tea and coffee are also still clearly distinguishable in the various dialects.

Two thirds of Zambians speak Bemba, Tonga or Nyanja. Apart from Lozi, which is very different from the other languages, the languages are related.

EnglishBembaLoziNyanjaTonga
Onecimoil’ingw’iimodzikomwe
Threefitatuz’e t’aluatatutotatwe
Fivefisanoz’e keta-lizohoasanutosanwe
Wateramenshimezimandzimenda
Coffeekofikofikhofinofi
Milkumukakamabisimukakamukupa
Toiletsifimbusubimbuzichimbuzichimbuzi
Tomorrowmailokamusomawachifumo

Sources

Else, D. / Zambia
Lonely Planet

Posthumus, B. / Zambia : mensen, politiek, economie, cultuur
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen / Novib

Zuidoost-Afrika
The Reader’s Digest

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info