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South Mbundu
(status of "national language")
Native to Angola
Ethnicity Ovimbundu
Native speakers
6 million (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-2 umb
ISO 639-3 umb
Glottolog umbu1257[2]

Umbundu, or South Mbundu (autonym úmbúndú), one of two Bantu languages of Angola called Mbundu (see Kimbundu), is the most widely spoken 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.



Bilabial Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive plain p t k
prenasal mb nd ɲdʒ ŋɡ
Fricative voiceless f s h
voiced v
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Lateral l
Approximant w j


Front Back
Close i ĩ u ũ
Mid e ẽ 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.[4]


  • Welcome - Ukombe weya ("The guest has 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 pity")
  • 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.

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) vokussumba suko onhe?[incomprehensible]


  1. ^ Umbundu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Umbundu". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  4. ^ Schadeberg, Thilo C. (1990). A Sketch of Umbundu. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Schadeberg, Thilo C. (1982) 'Nasalization in Umbundu', Journal of African Languages and Linguistics, 4, 2, 109–132.
  • Gladwyn M. Childs 'Umbundu Kinship and Character: Being a Description of Social Structure and Individual Development of the Ovimbundu', London: Oxford University Press, 1949. ISBN 0-8357-3227-4.

External links[edit]