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PanAfriL10n - PanAfrLoc - Beti

Beti - Béti

Ewondo, Fang, Bulu, Bebel, Bebil, Eton, Mengisa

1.  Classification / Classification

Beti is a language group including several interintelligible languages: Ewondo, Fang, Bulu, Bebel, Bebil, Eton, and Mengisa.

Ethnologue? no longer classifies Beti as a language. It had listed its classification as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Northwest, A, Yaunde-Fang (A.70)

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

Ewondo, Bulu, and Eton are spoken in southern Cameroon (Ewondo: parts of Center province and South province; Bulu: parts of South, Center, and East provinces; Eton: part of Center province). (Ethnologue)

Fang is spoken in Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and Gabon. Some speakers in Congo and Sao Tome e Principe.

Ewondo, a dialect of the Beti language group, is the most widely spoken dialect in Cameroon. (NALRC)

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to information compiled from Ethnologue (accessed 2007):

  • Beti: 2,000,000. Population includes Fang, Ewondo, Bulu, Mengisa, etc.
    • Ewondo: 577,700 in Cameroon (1982 SIL).
    • Fang
      • 258,722 in Equatorial Guinea (2000 WCD)
      • 110,552 in Cameroon (2000 WCD)
      • 61,504 in Gabon (2000 WCD)
      • 6,037 in Congo (2000 WCD). Few speakers in Congo
      • Population total all countries: 450,586
    • Bulu:
      • 174,000 in Cameroon (1982 SIL).
      • 800,000 second-language speakers (1991 UBS)
    • Bebele: 24,000 in Cameroon (1971 Welmers)
    • Bebil: 6,000 in Cameroon (1991 SIL)
    • Eton: 52,000 in Cameroon (1982 SIL)
    • Mengisa: 20,000 in Cameroon (1979 SIL)

Wikipedia cites a figure of 858,000 first-language speakers of Fang.

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

According to Ethnologue Beti "consists of a set of 'languages' (Bebele, Bebil, Bulu, Eton, Ewondo, Fang, Mengisa) which are partially intelligible but ethnically distinct." These and their dialects are as follows:

  • Ewondo
    • Badjia (Bakjo)
    • Bafeuk
    • Bamvele (Mvele, Yezum, Yesoum)
    • Bane
    • Beti
    • Fong
    • Mbida-Bani
    • Mvete
    • Mvog-Niengue
    • Omvang
    • Yabekolo (Yebekolo)
    • Yabeka
    • Yabekanga
    • Enoah
    • Evouzok
  • Fang
    • Make
    • Ntum (Ntumu, Ntoumou)
    • Fang (Okak)
    • Mvae (Mvan, Mvay)
    • Ogowe
  • Bulu
    • Yelinda
    • Yembana
    • Yengono
    • Zaman
    • Bene
  • Bebele
    • Eki
    • Manyok
  • Bebil
  • Eton
    • Essele
    • Mvog-Namve
    • Mvo-Nangkok
    • Beyidzolo
  • Mengisa (May be intelligible with Ewondo. The Mangisa people are reported to speak 2 languages: Mengisa Njowi, spoken daily and Leti, a secret language of tradition)

5.  Usage / Utilisation

Notes from Ethnologue:

  • Beti is a trade language
  • Ewondo is a trade language
  • Literacy rate among Ewondo and Fang speakers in Cameroon:
    • L1: ?
    • L2: 15% to 25%
  • (Bulu) Language of wider communication. ... Formerly used for education, religion, and commerce, but now in decline as language of wider communication.

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

Latin-based orthographies. There is apparently some use of diacritics and extended characters (see 6.2, below). Seeking better information.

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

Alphabets as reported by Hartell (1993) and presented in Systèmes alphabétiques:

"Language Museum" samples (NB- these may not be standard or official orthographies):

7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

7.3  Content on computers & internet / Contenu en informatique et sur l'Internet

AKŌK MEMVENDE ENYIŃ A MENGAN BOD (Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Béti Version, 1998) http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Pages/Language.aspx?LangID=btb (in PDF: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Documents/UDHR_Translations/btb.pdf ). Unicode UDHR project reclassifies this translation under Bulu http://unicode.org/udhr/s/status_btb.html

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

Not aware of any.

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue


  • ISO 639-1: -
  • ISO 639-2: -
  • ISO 639-3: btb (retired in 2010)


  • ISO 639-1: -
  • ISO 639-2: ewo
  • ISO 639-3: ewo


  • ISO 639-1: -
  • ISO 639-2: fan
  • ISO 639-3: fan


  • ISO 639-3: bum


  • ISO 639-3: beb


  • ISO 639-3: bxp


  • ISO 639-3: eto


  • ISO 639-3: mct

7.6  Locales / Paramètres régionaux

7.7  Other / Autre

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile

9.  Comments / Remarques

Is Beti a "language" that can be localised for in any context (for instance mobile phone menus)?

SIL International has this note about the ISO 639-3 code for Beti, btb: "Beti is a group name, not an individual language name. Member languages are Bebele [beb], Bebil [bxp], Bulu [bum], Eton [eto], Ewondo [ewo], Fang [fan], and Mengisa [mct], all of which already have their own code elements." The code was "retired" in 2010.

ACALAN had planned for a Vehicular Cross-Border Language Commission on "Béti-Fang" (one of 12 continentwide). (seeking more informaiton)

There is apparently a Beti-based pidgin language? called "Ewondo populaire." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ewondo_Populaire

10.  References / Références

Chanard, Christian (2006), Systèmes alphabétiques des langues africaines, LLACAN, CNRS, http://sumale.vjf.cnrs.fr/phono/

Hartell, Rhonda L., ed. (1993), The Alphabets of Africa. Dakar: UNESCO and SIL. (The French edition, published the same year, is entitled Alphabets de Langues Africaines).

National African Language Resource Center (NALRC?), "Beti & Ewondo" (brochure) http://www.nalrc.indiana.edu/brochures/Beti%20&%20Ewondo_Cameroon.pdf

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Bebele," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/beb

______, "Bebil," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/bxp

______, "Beti," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/btb (retired)

______, "Bulu," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/bum

______, "Eton," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/eto

______, "Ewondo," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/ewo

______, "Fang," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/fan

______, "Mengisa," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/mct

SIL International, "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: btb," http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/documentation.asp?id=btb

______, "ISO 639 Code Tables," http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp

U.S. Library of Congress, "ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages: Alpha-3 codes arranged alphabetically by the English name of language," http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/English_list.php

Wikipedia, "Beti language" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beti_language

______, "Bulu language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulu_language

______, "Eton language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eton_language

______, "Ewondo language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ewondo_language

______, "Fang language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fang_language

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Categories: Languages, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, NW CongoRep