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South Mbundu
Native toAngola
Native speakers
7,000,000 (2018)[1]
Official status
Official language in
 Angola ("National language")
Language codes
ISO 639-2umb
ISO 639-3umb
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Southern Mbundu

Umbundu, or South Mbundu (autonym úmbúndú), one of many Bantu languages, is the most widely-spoken autochthonous language of Angola. Its speakers are known as Ovimbundu and are an ethnic group constituting a third of Angola's population. Their homeland is the Central Highlands of Angola and the coastal region west of these highlands, including the cities of Benguela and Lobito. Because of recent internal migration, there are now also large communities in the capital Luanda and its surrounding province, as well as in Lubango.



Umbundu consonants
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop plain p t t͡ʃ k
prenasal. ᵐb ⁿd ᶮd͡ʒ ᵑɡ
Fricative voiceless f s h
voiced v
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Approximant w l j


Umbundu vowels
Front Central Back
Close i ĩ u ũ
Mid e o õ
Open a ã


Umbundu has two tones: low and high. The first acute accent (á) in a word represents a high tone. The low tone is represented by a grave accent (à). Unmarked syllables carry the same tone as the preceding syllable.[3]


  • Welcome – Ukombe weya ("The guests have come")
  • Hello – Wakolapo? (sg); Wakolipo? (pl)
  • How are you? – Wakolapo? (sg); Wakolipo? (pl)
  • I'm fine thanks, and you? – Ndakolapo ("I'm fine"); Twakolapo ("We're fine")
  • What's your name? – Velye olonduko vene? (frm); Helye onduko yove? (inf)
  • My name is... – Onduko yange ame...
  • Where are you from? – Pi ofeka yove? ("Where is your country?")
  • I'm from... – Ofeka yange... ("My country is...")
  • Good morning – Utanya uwa
  • Good afternoon – Ekumbi liwa
  • Good evening – Uteke uwa
  • Good night – Uteke uwa; Pekelapo ciwa ("Sleep well")
  • Goodbye – Ndanda. ("I went")
  • Do you speak English? – Ove ovangula inglese?
  • Do you speak Umbundu? – Ove ovangula umbundu?
  • Sorry – Ngecele (sg); Twecele (pl)
  • Please – Ndinge ohenda. ("Give me pity2)
  • Thank you – Ndapandula (sg); Twapandula (pl)
  • Reply – Lacimwe

Sample text[edit]

Omanu vosi vacitiwa valipwa kwenda valisoka kovina vyosikwenda komoko. Ovo vakwete esunga kwenda, kwenda olondunge kwenje ovo vatêla okuliteywila kuvamwe kwenda vakwavo vesokolwilo lyocisola.[4]

Translation: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)


  1. ^ Umbundu at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  3. ^ Schadeberg, Thilo C. (1990). A Sketch of Umbundu. Köln: R. Köppe Verlag. ISBN 3-927620-15-7.
  4. ^ "Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Umbundu". Retrieved 2021-03-10 – via Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Further reading[edit]

  • Valente, José Francisco (1964). Gramática umbundu: a língua do centro de Angola [Umbundu Grammar: The Language of Central Angola] (in Portuguese). Lisboa: Junta de Investigações do Ultramar.
  • Schadeberg, Thilo C. (1982). "Nasalization in Umbundu". Journal of African Languages and Linguistics. 4 (2): 109–132. doi:10.1515/jall.1982.4.2.109. S2CID 56021379.
  • Childs, Gladwyn M. (1949). Umbundu Kinship and Character: Being a Description of Social Structure and Individual Development of the Ovimbundu. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-8357-3227-4.

External links[edit]