Kalanga language

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Native to Zimbabwe, Botswana
Ethnicity Kalanga people
Native speakers
950,000 (2000–2004)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Zimbabwe (both Kalanga and Nambya)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
kck – Kalanga
nmq – Nambya
Glottolog kala1405[2]
Linguasphere 99-AUT-ai

Kalanga[pronunciation?], or Ikalanga (in Botswana), TjiKalanga (in Zimbabwe), is a Bantu language spoken by the Kalanga people in Botswana and Zimbabwe. It has an extensive phoneme inventory, which includes palatalised, velarised, aspirated and breathy-voiced consonants.[4]

Kalanga is recognised as an official language by the Zimbabwean Constitution of 2013 and is taught in schools in areas where its speakers predominate.

Classification and varieties[edit]

Linguists place Kalanga (S.16 in Guthrie's classification) and Nambya (in the Hwange region of Zimbabwe) as the western branch of the Shona group (or Shonic, or Shona-Nyai) group of languages, collectively coded as S.10.[3] But the term Shona (or Standard Shona) is used in popular parlance only to refer to the Central Shona varieties (Korekore S.11, Zezuru S.12, Manyika S.13, Karanga S.14), so speakers of Kalanga prefer not to identify with the term Shona.

Kalanga has a dialectal variation between its Botswana and Zimbabwean varieties and they use slightly different orthographies. Historically, Wentzel mentioned Kalanga proper in the east and Lilima (Tjililima, Humbe) on the west, as well as varieties that are now rare or extinct: Nyai (Rozvi), Lemba (Remba), Lembethu (Rembethu), Twamamba (Xwamamba), Pfumbi, Jaunda (Jawunda, Jahunda), and †Romwe, †Peri, †Talahundra (Talaunda).[3][5]


  • Chebanne, A. M. & Rodewald, M. K & Pahlen, K. W. (1995) Ngatikwaleni iKalanga: a manual for writing Kalanga as spoken in Botswana. Gaborone: Botswana Society.
  • Chebanne, Andy & Schmidt, Daniel (2010). "Kalanga: Summary grammar". Cape Town: CASAS monograph 75.
  • Letsholo, R. (2013). "Object markers in Ikalanga". Linguistic Discovery. Dartmouth College.
  • Mathangwane, Joyce T. (1999) Ikalanga phonetics and phonology: a synchronic and diachronic study. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.


  1. ^ Kalanga at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Nambya at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kalanga–Nambya". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ a b c Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  4. ^ Mathangwane, Joyce T. (1999). Ikalanga phonetics and phonology: a synchronic and diachronic study. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications. 
  5. ^ Wentzel, Petrus Johannes (1981). The Relationship between Venda and Western Shona. Ph.D. Thesis. Univ. of South Africa. 

External links[edit]