Mbugu language

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Native to Tanzania
Region Usambara Mountains
Ethnicity 32,000 (1987)[1]
Native speakers
7,000  (1997)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 mhd
Glottolog mbug1240[3]
G.20A (mixed register)
G.221 (Bantu register)

Mbugu, or Ma’a, is a mixed language of Tanzania.

The Mbugu speak two divergent registers. One consists of an inherited Cushitic vocabulary with Bantu morphology similar to that of Shambala and Pare. The other register is Bantu, with vocabulary closely related to Pare. Their syntax is identical, such that a passage in one language can be translated to the other by simply changing the content words.[5]

The Cushitic element was identified as South Cushitic by Ehret. However, Kießling (2001) notes a large East Cushitic admixture,[6] and Mous presents the Cushitic element as a register of a Bantu language, and identifies it as largely East Cushitic rather than Southern.[7]


  1. ^ Mbugu language at Ethnologue (14th ed., 2000).
  2. ^ Mbugu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Mbugu". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  4. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  5. ^ Mous, Maarten (2003). The Making of a Mixed Language: the case of Ma’a/Mbugu. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins Pub. Co. 
  6. ^ Roland Kießling, "South Cushitic links to East Cushitic", in Zaborski ed, 2001, New Data and New Methods in Afroasiatic Linguistics
  7. ^ Blench, 2006, Classification of Afroasiatic, ms.
  • Tosco, Mauro. 2000. 'Cushitic Overview.' Journal of Ethiopian Studies 33(2):87-121.