Nyamwezi language

Nyamwezi is a major Bantu language of central Tanzania. It forms a dialect continuum with Sukuma, but is more distinct from other neighboring languages.

Native speakers
(1.5 million cited 1987–2016)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-2nym
ISO 639-3nym

Konongo and Ruwila are sometimes considered dialects.



Bilabial Labio-
Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive plain p b t d ɟ k ɡ
prenasal ᵐb ⁿd ᶮɟ ᵑɡ
Affricate plain c͡ʃ
prenasal ᶮc͡ʃ
Fricative plain β f v s z ʃ h
prenasal ᶬf ᶬv ⁿs ⁿz ᶮʃ
Nasal m̥ m n̥ n ɲ̊ ɲ ŋ̊ ŋ
Approximant l j w
  • Prenasalized voiceless stops [ᵐp ⁿt] may also frequently occur, as a result of loan words.
  • Nasal sounds /m ŋ/ may also occur as labialized [mʷ ŋʷ].


Front Central Back
High i iː u uː
ɪ ɪː ʊ ʊː
Mid ɛ ɛː ɔ ɔː
Low a aː


Tones present in Nyamwezi are high /v́/, low /v̀/, and rising /v̌/.[3]

Sample textEdit

Banhu bose bubyalagwa biyagalulile, n'ikujo haki zilenganelile. Banhu bose bina masala na wiganiki, hu kuyomba ihayilwe bitogwe giti bana ba mbyazi bumo.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.[4]


  1. ^ Nyamwezi at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  2. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  3. ^ Maganga, Clement; Schadeberg, Thilo C. (1992). Kinyamwezi: Grammar, Texts, Vocabulary. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe. pp. 15–53.
  4. ^ "Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Kinyamwezi (Nyamwezi)". Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. United Nations Development Programme, Tanzania. Retrieved 26 March 2022.