Fang language

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Native to Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, and Cameroon
Ethnicity Fang people
Native speakers
1 million (2006–2013)[1]
  • Southwest Fang
Language codes
ISO 639-2 fan
ISO 639-3 fan
Glottolog fang1246[2]
Idioma fang.png

Fang /ˈfɒŋ/ is the dominant Bantu language of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. It is related to the Bulu and Ewondo languages of southern Cameroon. Fang is spoken in northern Gabon, southern Cameroon, and throughout Equatorial Guinea. Under President Macías Nguema, Fang was the official language of Equatorial Guinea.

There are many different variants of Fang in Gabon and Cameroon. Maho (2009) lists Southwest Fang as a distinct language. The other dialects are Ntumu, Okak, Make, Atsi (Batsi), Nzaman (Zaman), Mveny.



Fang has 7 vowels, each of which can have short or long realizations.

Vowel Phonemes
Front (short/long) Back (short/long)
Close i iː (ĩ) u uː (ũ)
Close-mid e eː (ẽ) o oː (õ)
Open-mid ɛ ɛː (ɛ̃) ɔ ɔː (ɔ̃)
Open a aː (ã)

Nasal vowels are allophones of the respective oral vowels, when followed by a nasal consonant [ŋ] or [ɲ]. Words can not start with [ɛ], [i], [ɔ] nor [u].


Diphthongs can be a combination of any vowel with [j] or [w], as well as [ea], [oe], [oa], [ua].


Fang distinguishes between 4 different tones, conventionally called: high, low, rising and falling. The former two are simple tones, while the latter are compound tones. One vowel in a sequences of vowels can be elided in casual speech, though its tone remains and attaches to the remaining vowel. [5]


In Fang, there are 24 consonants. The majority of them can become prenasalized:

Consonant phonemes
Labial Dental Alveolar Alveopalatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p b
mp mb
t d
nt nd
k ɡ
ŋk ŋg
k͡p ɡ͡b
ŋk͡p ŋɡ͡b
Affricate t͡s d͡z
nt͡s nd͡z
Fricative f v
ɱf ɱv
s z
ns nz
Approximant l j
Tap ɾ

/h/ is only used in interjections and loanwords. Words can not start with /ŋ/, except when followed by a velar consonant. /ɾ/ and /z/ also are restricted from word-initial position. /g/ and /p/ can only come in word-initial position in words of foreign origin, although in many of these cases, /g/ becomes realized as [ŋg].


As the Fang language does not have an official orthography, the following list may not be entirely accurate; one issue of note is the lack of marking for tones. Regardless, common phrases for the Oyem area of northern Gabon include:

English Fang
Hello (to one person) M'bolo
Hello (to several people) M'bolani
Hello (response) Am'bolo; Am'bolani
How are you? Y'o num vah?
response M'a num vah
Where are you going Wa kuh vay?
I'm going home Ma kuh Andah
I'm going to school Ma ke see-kolo
I'm going for a walk Ma ke ma woolou
I'm hungry Ma woh zeng
I'm sick Ma kwan
I understand French Ma wok Flacci
I don't understand Fang Ma wok ki Fang
I don't speak Fang Ma kobe ki Fang
What did you say Wa dzon ah dzeh?
I said... Ma dzon ah...
Holy cow! A tara dzam!
I want to eat Ma cuma adji
Thank you Akiba

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Fang (Equatorial Guinea)". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  4. ^ Bibang Oyee, Julián-Bibang (2014). Diccionario Español-Fang/Fang-Español. Akal.
  5. ^ Bibang Oyee, Julián (1990). Curso de lengua fang. Centro Cultural Hispano-Guineano

External links[edit]