|Native speakers||805,000 (2006)|
Hehe is a Bantu language in the Bena–Kinga group, spoken by the Hehe people of the Iringa region of Tanzania, lying south of the Great Ruaha River. It was reported to have "Ngoni" features, that is, words of a Zulu-like language introduced when conquered by a Nguni or Zulu-like people in the early 19th century. However, other "Ngoni" speeches seem to have lost most of these distinctive features over the past 150-odd years, the language more resembling those of the neighbouring peoples. In 1977 it was estimated that 190,000 people spoke Hehe. There has been some Bible translation (British and Foreign Bible Society). Hehe may be mutually intelligible with Bena.
Hehe has 15 noun classes (akin to the genders of European languages); it marks this class with a prefix.
- Hehe at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
- Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
- Dwyer, D. J., Yankee, E., & Michigan State Univ., E. r. (1985). African Language Resource Handbook: A Resource Handbook of the Eighty-two Highest Priority African Languages. Prepublication Edition. http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED256170.pdf
- David Odden, Introducing Phonology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 177.
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