Nyakyusa language

Native toTanzania, Malawi
Native speakers
1,359,000 (2009-2016)[1]
(including Sukwa)
Language codes
ISO 639-3nyy
Linguasphere99-AUS-v incl. inner units & varieties 99-AUS-va...-vd

Nyakyusa, or Nyakyusa-Ngonde, is a Bantu language of Tanzania and Malawi spoken by the Nyakyusa people around the northern end of Lake Malawi. There is no single name for the language as a whole; dialects are Nyakyusa, Ngonde (Konde), Kukwe, Mwamba (Lungulu), and Selya (Salya, Seria) of Tanzania. Disregarding the Bantu language prefixes Iki- and Ki-, the language is also known as Konde ~ Nkhonde, Mombe, Nyekyosa ~ Nyikyusa, and Sochile ~ Sokili.

Sukwa is often listed as another dialect, but according to Nurse (1988) and Fourshey (2002) it is a dialect of Lambya.

In Malawi Nyakusa and Kyangonde are spoken in the northern part of Karonga District, on the shore of Lake Malawi close to the border with Tanzania, while Nkhonde is spoken the centre of the district, including in the town of Karonga.[4]

According to the Language Mapping Survey for Northern Malawi carried out by the Centre for Language Studies of the University of Malawi, "Nyakyuska, though spoken by very few people, mainly at Iponga in Sub T/ A Mwakawoko’s area, is regarded as the parent language from which Kyangonde and Chinkhonde originated. Kyangonde, on the other hand, is regarded as the most prestigious and standard language/dialect of the district. ... Chinkhonde is seen as a dialect of Kyangonde which has been heavily influenced by Citumbuka."[5]

The same Survey contains a folktale (the Tortoise and the Hare) in Chinkhonde and other languages of Northern Malawi, as well as some comparative vocabulary.[6]

Further reading[]

Bastian Persohn (2018). The Verb in Nyakyusa: A focus on tense, aspect, and modality. Berlin: Language Science Press. http://langsci-press.org/catalog/book/141. ISBN 978-3-96110-014-9 . DOI 10.5281/zenodo.926408. Open Access.


  1. ^ "Nyakyusa-Ngonde". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Nyakyusa-Ngonde". 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. ^ Centre for Language Studies map of Northern Malawi Languages.
  5. ^ Language Mapping Survey (2006), p. 17.
  6. ^ Language Mapping Survey p.63 and 70-71.