Town Bemba

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Town Bemba
Native to Zambia
Region Copperbelt
Native speakers
unknown, but growing;
2–3 million as L2 (2009)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Glottolog town1238[2]

Town Bemba, also known as Bemba, is an innovative variety of Bemba spoken among migrant populations in central Zambia. It developed in the mines and mining towns, where it replaced the earlier, and foreign, Fanagalo.

It has been described as a creole,[1] but this is dubious, since Town Bemba never went through a pidgin phase and its phonology and grammar differ only slightly from standard Bemba.[4] Unlike in Nyanja, whose urban form needs to be treated as a separate language for literary purposes, literacy materials in 'Bemba' such as those produced by can generally be used by both urban and traditional speakers.


  1. ^ a b Kees Versteegh, 2009, "Non-Indo-European Pidgins and Creoles", in Kouwenberg & Singler, eds., The Handbook of Pidgin and Creole Studies
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Town Bemba". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  4. ^ Andrew Gray & Phallen Bwalya, 2015. Bemba: a learner's guide to Zambia's largest language