Kwanyama language

Native toNamibia and Angola
Native speakers
(250,000 in Namibia (2006);
420,000 in Angola cited 1993)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-1kj
ISO 639-2kua
ISO 639-3kua

Kwanyama or Cuanhama is a national language of Angola and Namibia. It is a standardized dialect of the Ovambo language, and is mutually intelligible with Oshindonga, the other Ovambo dialect with a standard written form.

The entire Christian Bible has been translated into Kwanyama and was first published in 1974 under the name Ombibeli by the South African Bible Society.[4] Jehovah’s Witnesses released the modern translation of the new testament, the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures in Kwanyama in 2019[5], both printed and electronic online version.


Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p t~t̪ k
voiced b d~d̪
prenasal ᵐb ⁿd ⁿdʒ ᵑɡ
Fricative voiceless f (s) ʃ x h
voiced v
Nasal voiced m n ɲ
voiceless ɲ̊ ŋ̊
Approximant w l j

/t/ and /d/ are dentalized when followed by a front vowel /i/. An /s/ sound can only occur in loanwords.

Front Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a


  1. ^ Kwanyama at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kuanyama". 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. ^ Ombibeli, 1974, front page
  5. ^ "Jehovah's Witnesses Release the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures in Kwanyama". 20 August 2019.


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