|Native speakers||100,000 (2006)
2nd language: 20,000
The area where Kimwani is spoken is in gray.
The Mwani language, or Kimwani (pronounced [kiˈmwani]), is spoken on the coast of the Cabo Delgado Province of Mozambique, including the Quirimbas Islands. Although it shares high lexical similarity (60%) with Swahili, it is not intelligible with it. It is spoken by around 120,000 people (including 20,000 who use it as their second language). Speakers of Kimwani also use Portuguese, (the official language of Mozambique), Swahili and Makhuwa language. Kiwibo, the dialect of the Island of Ibo is the prestige dialect. Kimwani (sometimes spelled as Quimuane) is also called Mwani (sometimes spelled as: Mwane, Muane) and Ibo. According to Anthony P. Grant: 'Kimwani of northern Mozambique appears to be the result of imperfect shift towards Swahili several centuries ago by speakers of Makonde', and Arends et al. suggest it might turn out to be a Makonde–Swahili mixed language.
Kimwani is the Kimwani word for the Kimwani language, and this is also used in English. 'Ki-' is a prefix attached to nouns of the noun class that includes languages. Mwani means 'people from the coast', and Kimwani refers to the '(Ki)Mwani Language' or 'language of the people from the coast'.
Kimwani (similar to Swahili) is unusual among sub-Saharan languages in having lost the feature of lexical tone (with the exception of some verbal paradigms where its use is optional). It does not have the penultimate stress typical of Swahili; it has movable pitch accent. Labialization of consonants (indicated by a [w] following the consonant) and palatalization of r (ry; [rj]) are frequent. Nasalization of vowels occurs only before a nasal consonant n followed by a consonant.
Kimwani has five vowel phonemes: /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, and /u/, that is: its vowels are close to those of Spanish and Latin. It does not have a distinction of closed and open mid vowels typical of Portuguese, French or Italian.
- /a/ is pronounced like the "a" in start
- /e/ is pronounced like the "e" in bed
- /i/ is pronounced like the "y" in happy
- /o/ is pronounced like the "o" in or
- /u/ is pronounced like the "u" in Susan.
Kimwani has no diphthongs; in vowel combinations, each vowel is pronounced separately.
Two symbols in a table cell denote the voiceless and voiced consonant, respectively.
|p, b||t, d||tʃ, dʒ||k, g|
|Fricatives||f, v||s, z||ʃ||h|
Kimwani can be spelled in three ways: using orthography similar to Swahili, using a slightly modified spelling system used in Mozambique schools or using a Portuguese-based spelling. Here are the differences:
|Swahili language spelling||Modified spelling||Portuguese spelling||Translation|
|/ŋ/||ng' ombe||ng' ombe||ngombe||cow|
m’moja (1), mbire (2), natu (3), n’né (4), n’tano (5)
sita (6), saba (7), nane (8), khénta (9)
kume (10), kume na m’moja (11), kume na mbire (12)
shirini (20), talatini (30), arubaine (40), amusine (50)
sitine (60), sabine (70), tamanine (80), tusuine (90)
mia (100), mia mbire (200)
- Ethnologue list of countries where Kimwani is spoken
- Mwani reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- "Mwani: a language of Mozambique". Ethnologue: Languages of the World (14th ed.). SIL International. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
- Smith, Norval; Veenstra, Tonjes (2001). Creolization and Contact. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 94. ISBN 90-272-5245-9.
- Arends, Muysken, & Smith (1995), Pidgins and Creoles: An Introduction
- A sketch of Kimwani by Petzell, Malin
- Petzell, Malin. A sketch of Kimwani (a minority language of Mozambique); Africa & Asia, #2, pp. 88–110, Göteborg University. 2002. ISSN: 1650-2019
- Namuna ya kufifunda kufyoma na kwandika (Manual de transição, língua Kimwani); SIL & JUWA; Pemba, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. 2002.
- Gerdes, Paulus (2008). A Numeração Em Moçambique. Lulu.com. ISBN 978-1-4357-2634-5.