Languages of Angola

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Languages of Angola
Official languages Portuguese
National languages Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo, Uchokwe, Ukwanyama (Oshiwambo), Nganguela
Main foreign languages English, French,

The languages of Angola are predominantly Bantu and Portuguese, with a small minority of Khoisan speakers.

Portuguese is the sole official language. Due to cultural, social and political mechanisms which date back to the colonial history, the number of native Portuguese speakers is large and growing.[1] A 2012 study by the Angolan National Institute for Statistics found that Portuguese is the mother tongue of 39% of the population.[2][3] However, it is likely that this number is somewhat exaggerated, given the inaccessibility of rural regions where Portuguese is less spoken.[4] It is spoken as a second language by many more throughout the country, and younger urban generations are moving towards the dominant or exclusive use of Portuguese. However, in the exclave of Cabinda, many people speak French as well as, or better than, Portuguese.[5] Also, the Angolan Bakongo who were exiled in the Democratic Republic of the Congo usually speak better French and Lingala than Portuguese and Kikongo.

After independence, the government chose six Bantu languages to be developed as national languages. These are Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo, Uchokwe, Ukwanyama (Oshiwambo), and Mbunda.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] Mbunda was later replaced with Ngangela, a standard language missionary Emil Pearson created by mixing Mbunda, Luchazi, Luvale, and Luimbi.[15] Umbundu is the most populous Bantu language, spoken natively by about a third of the population. Kimbundu is spoken around the capital Luanda. Kikongo is spoken in the north, including the exclave of Cabinda.[4]

The Khoisan speak languages from two families: !Kung and Khoe, though only a few hundred speak the latter. The majority of Khoisan fled to South Africa after the end of the civil war. The extinct Kwadi language may have been distantly related to Khoe, and Kwisi is entirely unknown; their speakers were neither Khoisan nor Bantu.

The few Cubans who have remained in Angola as a consequence of the Cuban military involvement (or the development cooperation in education and health) speak Spanish, but their descendants (almost all of them from mixed marriages) have not held on to it. Africans from Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal speak English or French, and their native African languages, and are usually learning at least some Portuguese. A (very small) number of Angolans of Lebanese descent speak Arabic and/or French. The foreign language mostly learned by Angolans is English, but among the Bakongo (in the Northwest and Cabinda) French is often more important. Due to increasing Angola-China relations, there is now a Chinese community of about 300,000 using Chinese language (Mandarin and Cantonese) [16]

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