Languages of the Republic of the Congo
|National languages||Kituba, Lingala|
|Interethnic languages||French, Kituba, Lingala|
The official language of the Republic of Congo is French. Other languages are mainly Bantu languages, and the two national languages in the country are Kituba and Lingala (13%), followed by Mboshi, Bateke (17.3%), and more than forty other languages, including Pygmy languages (1.4%), which are not Bantu languages.
According to Laval University, because of civil wars that rocked the country, French became a "haven language" for various armed factions. For example, speakers who are incompetent in Kituba (especially those in the south), Kikongo and Lingala (especially those in the north) prefer to speak French for security reasons. For fear of revealing their ethnicity, the Congolese go to French, which helps preserve their anonymity. (See also: African French)
Kituba (or Munukutuba) is a simplified Kikongo creole, understandable by the users of different dialects of Kikongo. This language is used by 50.35% of the Congolese population who live along the Congo-Océan railway line which connects Brazzaville to Pointe-Noire in the south of the country.
Lingala, the river language, is the language of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, and is spoken mainly in the north and east of the country. This is the language which has grown most quickly in the past few years in the Congo.
Batekes form 18% of the population and are mostly found in the Plateaux Department, in the Cuvette-Ouest (where they are known as Mbéti and Tégué), Niari (where they are known as Nzabi), Bouenza and the Pool region.
Lari is a mixture of various idioms of Kongo and Téké, and is the language mostly spoken in the Pool region.
The dominant sign language is ASL from Nigeria, influenced by local gestures and conventions.
Notes and references
- Constitution de 2002 de la République du Congo
- Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France, référence 2006.
- Les usages linguistiques à Brazzaville la place du français, Omer Massoumou, Université Marien Ngouabi, Brazzaville.
- Le Congo-BRAZZAVILLE(République populaire)
Omer Massoumou et Ambroise Jean-Marc Queffélec, Le français en République du Congo sous l'ère pluripartiste (1991-2006), Paris, Éditions des archives contemporaines - Agence universitaire de la Francophonie, 2007, 451 p.