Tonga language (Zambia and Zimbabwe)
|Native to||Zambia, Zimbabwe|
|Ethnicity||Tonga, Kafwe Twa?|
|1.1 million (2001–2006)
one of the key lingua franca in Zambia and parts of Zimbabwe and Mozambique)
Valley Tonga (We)
|Latin (Tonga alphabet)
Official language in
Recognised minority language in
toi – Tonga
dov – Dombe
The Tonga language, Chitonga, of Zambia and Zimbabwe, also known as Zambezi, is a Bantu Language primarily spoken by the Tonga people in those countries who live mainly in the Southern and Western provinces of Zambia, and in northern Zimbabwe, with a few in Mozambique. The language is also spoken by the Iwe, Toka and Leya people, perhaps by the Kafwe Twa (if that is not Ila), as well as many bilingual Zambians and Zimbabweans. It is one of the major lingua francas in Zambia, together with Bemba, Lozi and Nyanja. The Tonga of Malawi is not particularly close.
The Tonga speaking inhabitants are the oldest bantu settlers, with the Tumbuka, a small tribe in the east, in what is known as Zambia. There are two distinctive dialects of the Tonga, Valley Tonga and Plateau Tonga. Valley Tonga is mostly spoken in the Zambezi valley and southern areas of the Batonga (Tonga People) while Plateau Tonga is spoken more around Monze district and the northern areas of the Batonga.
Tonga (Chitonga or iciTonga) developed as a spoken language and was not put into written form until missionaries arrived in the area. The language is not standardized, and speakers of the same dialect may have different spellings for the same words once put into written text.
Maho (2009) removes Shanjo as a separate, and not very closely related, language.
Tonga follows the standard Bantu language structure. One word may consist of a verb, a direct object, a tense marker and even an indirect object.
|Subject-(tense marker)-verb root-(ending)||First person "ndi" doing something s/he shouldn't be doing "kuputa"|
|Present Simple||-(verb root)||Ndiputa|
|Present Perfect||-a-(verb root)-ide||Ndaputide|
|Habitual Present Tense||-la-(verb root)-a||Ndilaputa|
|Recent Past (Past of Today)||-ali-(verb root)-ide||ndaliputide|
|Recent Past Continuous||-ali-ku-(verb root)||ndalikuputa|
|Habitual Past Continuous||-akali-ku-(verb root)||Ndakalikupua|
|Simple Future||-ya-ku-(verb root)-a||Ndiyakuputa|
|Future Habitual||-niku-(verb root)-a||ndinikupua|
|Extended Future (Tomorrow or after tomorrow)||-yaku-(verb)-a||ndiyakuputa|
How are you? Mwapona
Good, Fine. kabotu
Thank You. Twalumba
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Chitonga
- Glossary of Chitonga in English and German.
- Another Glossary.
- Tonga reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
Dombe reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
- A Practical Introduction to Chitonga, C.R. Hopgood, 1992 Edition, Zambia Educational Publishing House, p. x
- Mweenzu Wafwulwe Ulalila Bowa (An Advanced Chitonga Language Course), R.N. Moonga and F.W. Wafer, Zambia Educational Publishing House, 1997, p. v
- Norval Smith, Harry Van Der Hulst, 1988. Features, Segmental Structure & Harmony Processes, vol. 1 p. 198
- Tenses taken from Peace Corps Zambia Trainee's Book: Tonga, 2003