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PanAfriL10n - PanAfrLoc - Tumbuka

Tumbuka - Chitumbuka

1.  Classification / Classification

Tumbuka belongs to the Tumbuka group of Bantu (Guthrie N20). (Webbook?)

Ethnologue? lists the classification as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, N, Tumbuka (N.20)


2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

It is spoken in northern and central Malawi and the Lundazi District of eastern Zambia. (Webbook)


3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to Ethnologue:

  • 940,000 in Malawi (2001 Johnstone and Mandryk)
  • 392,000 in Zambia (2001 Johnstone and Mandryk)
  • Population total all countries: 1,332,000

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

Voegelin and Voegelin (1977) report nine mutually intelligible dialects of Tumbuka. Kashoki (1980, p. 3) notes that the Senga, Tumbuka, Fungwe, and Yombe of Zambia "speak practically the same language." Vail considers these dialect names to be geographical as opposed to linguistic designations. (Webbook)

According to Ethnologue:

  • Chitumbuka
  • Chikamanga (Kamanga, Henga)
  • Kandawire
  • Poka (Chipoka, Phoka)
  • Yombe
  • Senga
  • Fungwe
  • Wenya
  • Nenya
  • Ngoni (Magodi)
  • Fililwa (Filirwa)
  • Hewe (Hewa)
  • Nthali

5.  Usage / Utilisation

In Zambia, Vail reports, "while Tumbuka is recognized as a major language of the country, it is not one of its official languages. This means that while it may be spoken and have literature published in it, it is not used on the Zambia Broadcasting System." In Malawi, Tumbuka had its former (colonial) official status removed by government action, thereby prohibiting anything to be printed in it aside from the Bible and religious tracts. Therefore, in Malawi as well as Zambia, Tumbuka is a local language. (Webbook)

Kamwendo (2004) gives some history and current perspectives on use of Tumbuka.


6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

At this time there are several variants of Tumbuka orthography, and no known effort is being made to develop a standardized one. (Webbook) [need update!]

Apparently there are still several orthographies and no standard (Wikipedia) [verify!]

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

A sample text is shown on the "Language Museum" site: http://www.language-museum.com/t/tumbuka.htm


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

Wikipedia in Tumbuka at http://tum.wikipedia.org/ (17 pages as of 5-2007)

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

No information on any localisation efforts.

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue

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

7.6  Other / Autre

Wikitravel Tumbuka phrasebook http://wikitravel.org/en/Tumbuka_phrasebook


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

If indeed there is no standardised orthography (see 6.1, above), then this would be a priority issue for localisation.


10.  References / Références

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, http://africa.isp.msu.edu/afrlang/hiermenu.html (page on "Tumbuka," http://africa.isp.msu.edu/afrlang/Tumbuka_root.html )

Kamwendo, Gregory Hankoni. 2004. "'Your Chitumbuka is Shallow. It's not the Real Chitumbuka': Linguistic Purism Among Chitumbuka Speakers in Malawi." Nordic Journal of African Studies Vol. 13(3) 2004, pp. 275 - 288. http://www.njas.helsinki.fi/abstracts/vol13num3/abstract_13_3_3.html (note link to article in PDF)

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

SIL International, "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, Tumbuka language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumbuka_language


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