Swahili and the Bantu languages

Authored by: Benji Wald

The World’s Major Languages

Print publication date:  November  2008
Online publication date:  January  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415353397
eBook ISBN: 9780203301524
Adobe ISBN: 9781134261567

10.4324/9780203301524.ch52

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Abstract

The Bantu languages dominate the southern half of the African land mass and are spoken as first languages by an estimated 220 million speakers, nearly a third of Africa’s total population. In their geographical extent, they come into contact with representatives of all the other major African language families: Cushitic (of Afroasiatic superstock) and Nilo-Saharan languages in the north-east, Khoisan in the south (and minimally in the north-east due to the retention of the Khoisan language Sandawe in north-eastern Tanzania, surrounded by Bantu languages) and its closest relatives among the Niger-Congo languages in the north-west.

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