Kimbundu, or North Mbundu, one of two Bantu languages called Mbundu (see Umbundu), is the second-most-widely spoken Bantu language in Angola. It is concentrated in the north-west of the country, notably in the Luanda Province, Bengo Province, Malanje Province and the Cuanza Norte Province. It is spoken by the Ambundu.[3]

North Mbundu
Native toAngola
RegionLuanda Province, Bengo Province , Malanje Province
Native speakers
2.1 million (2014)
  • Kimbundu proper (Ngola)
  • Mbamba (Njinga)
Official status
Official language in
 Angola ("National language")
Language codes
ISO 639-2kmb
ISO 639-3kmb



Bilabial Labial Dental Alveolar Post-
Velar Glottal
Stop plain p t k
voiced b
prenasalized ᵐb ⁿd
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced v z ʒ
prenasalized ᶬv ⁿz ⁿʒ
Lateral l
Nasal m n ŋ


[ɸ] and [β] are allophones of /p/ and /b/, respectively, before /a/ and /u/. The phoneme /l/ is phonetically a flap [ɾ], the plosive [d] or its palatalized version [dʲ] 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 HarmonyEdit

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.[4]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kimbundu". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  3. ^ Ambundu is the short form for Akwa Mbundu and '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 title for kings in Northern Angolan kingdom in the past, before the Portuguese invasion.
  4. ^ 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.

External linksEdit