Nambya language

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Native toZimbabwe, Botswana
EthnicityNambya people
Native speakers
Official status
Official language in
Zimbabwe (both Kalanga and Nambya)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
nmq – Nambya

The Nambya language, or Nanzwa/Nanzva, is a Bantu language spoken by the Nambya people. It is spoken in northwestern Zimbabwe, particularly in the town of Hwange,[3][4] with a few speakers in northeastern Botswana. It is either classified as a dialect of the Kalanga language or as a closely related language.[5] The Zimbabwean constitution, in particular the Education Act, as amended in 1990, recognises Nambya and Kalanga as separate indigenous languages.[5]


Nambya is a tonal language. It has a simple 5 vowel system and a typical Bantu consonant-vowel (CV) syllable structure. The language has onsetless syllables, but these are restricted to the word-initial position, making Nambya typical of the Southern Bantu languages.[5]


Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a


Like many Bantu languages, Nambya has a highly agglutinative morphology.[5]


  1. ^ Nambya at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Nambya". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Ndhlovu, Finex (2009-01-01). The Politics of Language and Nation Building in Zimbabwe. Peter Lang. p. 54. ISBN 9783039119424.
  4. ^ Kamwangamalu, Nkonko; Jr, Richard B. Baldauf; Kaplan, Robert B. (2016-04-08). Language Planning in Africa: The Cameroon, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Routledge. p. 220. ISBN 9781134916887.
  5. ^ a b c d Kadenge, Maxwell, D.Phil (March 2010). "Some Segmental Phonological Processes Involving Vowels in Nambya: A Preliminary Descriptive Account" (PDF).