North Mbundu
Native toAngola
RegionLuanda Province, Bengo Province , Malanje Province
Native speakers
1.7 million (2015)[1]
  • Kimbundu proper (Ngola)
  • Mbamba (Njinga)
Official status
Official language in
 Angola ("National language")
Language codes
ISO 639-2kmb
ISO 639-3kmb
A Kimbundu speaker, recorded in Angola.

Kimbundu, a Bantu language which has sometimes been called Mbundu [3] or 'North Mbundu'[citation needed] (see Umbundu), is the second-most-widely-spoken Bantu language in Angola.

Its speakers are concentrated in the north-west of the country, notably in the Luanda, Bengo, Malanje and the Cuanza Norte provinces. It is spoken by the Ambundu.[4]

Northern Mbundu
PeopleAmbundu or Akwambundu
CountryNdongo and Matamba



Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop plain p t k
voiced b
prenasalized ᵐb ⁿd (ᵑɡ)
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced v z ʒ
prenasalized ᶬv ⁿz ⁿʒ
Nasal m n (ɲ) ŋ
Approximant w l j


[ɸ] and [β] are allophones of /p/ and /b/, respectively, before /a/ and /u/. The phoneme /l/ is phonetically a flap [ɾ], a voiced plosive [d] or its palatalized version [dʲ] when before the front high vowel /i/. In the same way, the alveolars /s/, /z/ and /n/ are palatalized to [ʃ], [ʒ] and [ɲ], respectively, before [i]. There may be an epenthesis of [g] after /ŋ/ in word medial positions, thus creating a phonetic cluster [ŋg] in a process of fortition.

There is long distance nasal harmony, in which /l/ is realized as [n] if the previous morphemes contain /m/ or /n/, but not prenasalized stops.


Front Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a

There are two contrasting tones: a high (á) and a low tone (à). There is also a downstep in cases of tonal sandhi.

Vowel harmony[]

There is vowel harmony in two groups (the high vowels /i, u/ and the mid and low vowels /e, o, a/) that applies only for verbal morphology. In some morphemes, vowels may be consistently deleted to avoid a hiatus.[5]


European Portuguese[]

There is a small number of words of Kimbundu origin and many of those are indirect loans, borrowed via Angolan Portuguese.

The examples generally understood by most or all speakers of Angolan and European Portuguese include

bué (pronounced [bwɛ], "very, a lot"),[6]

cota ([ˈkɔtɐ], "old person"[7])

bazar ([bɐˈzaɾ])

mambo ([ˈmɐ̃bu])

guita ([ˈgitɐ], "money"[8])

beca ([ˈbɛkɐ])

wi ("man, dude"[9])

fixe ("cool"),[10] bué da fixe and muitá fixó[11] ("excellent").[10][12]


Personal pronouns Translation
Eme I
Eie / Eye You
Muene He or she
Etu We
Enu You
Ene They

Conjugating the verb to be (kuala; also kukala in Kimbundu) in the present:[13]

Eme ngala I am
Eie uala / Eye uala / Eie wala / Eye wala You are
Muene uala / Muene wala He or she is
Etu tuala / Etu twala We are
Enu nuala / Enu nwala You are
Ene ala They are

Conjugating the verb to have (kuala ni; also kukala ni in Kimbundu) in the present :

Eme ngala ni I have
Eie / Eye uala ni You have
Muene uala ni He or she has
Etu tuala ni We have
Enu nuala ni You have
Ene ala ni They have


  1. ^ Kimbundu at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) closed access
  2. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  3. ^ A language name 'mbundu' was used by Guthrie in his 1948 classification, for his group R10 (the language is Umbundu, the Ovimbundu's language. Kimbundu is found as Ndongo-H21). This has become obsolete: In his 1971 classification, the group H20 is called the Kimbundu group, and the R10 group is called 'Umbundu group'. See: M. Guthrie, The Classification of the Bantu Languages (OUP, 1948), and M. Guthrie, Comparative Bantu, Vol 2 (Gregg Press, 1971). Glottolog classifies Kimbundu in a Mbundu group, which is in the Northern Njila group, and Umbundu (the Ovimbundu's language) in the Kunene group, which is itself in the Southern Njila group. see the Glottolog entry
  4. ^ Ambundu is the short form for Akwa Mbundu, where 'Akwa' means 'from', or 'of', or more originally 'originally from' and 'belonging to'. In Kimbundu language, the particle Akwa is shortened into simply A, so that instead of Akwa Mbndu, it becomes Ambundu; similarly the term Akwa Ngola becomes ANgola, then Angola. Ngola was the title for kings in the historic Northern Angolan kingdom, before the Portuguese invasion.
  5. ^ Xavier, Francisco da Silva (2010). Fonologia segmental e supra-segmental do Quimbundo: variedades de Luanda, Bengo, Quanza Norte e Malange (Ph.D. thesis) (in Portuguese). University of São Paulo. doi:10.11606/t.8.2010.tde-20102010-091425.
  6. ^ S.A, Priberam Informática. "bué". Dicionário Priberam.
  7. ^ S.A, Priberam Informática. "Cota". Dicionário Priberam.
  8. ^ "Guita". Michaelis On-Line.
  9. ^ "Wi". Michaelis On-Line.
  10. ^ a b "Fixe". Michaelis On-Line.
  11. ^ S.A, Priberam Informática. da fixe "Bué Da Fixe". Dicionário Priberam. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  12. ^ Suplemento do léxico cigano. Mundo Cigano.
  13. ^ "A língua kimbundu". Ciberduvidas da lingua portuguesa (in Portuguese). Retrieved 30 November 2020.

External links[]