Structure dataset 58: Kikongo-Kituba

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 58.

Kikongo-Kituba is spoken by over 10 million people in the provinces of Bas-Congo and Bandundu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in the southern part of the Republic of Congo. Whether or not it is regarded as a creole depends on whether or not one associates creoles exclusively with European lexifiers in plantation settlement colonies. It was lexified by Kimanyanga, one of the languages in the Kikongo cluster. It dates from the late 19th or early 20th century, after the Belgian colonial administration of the then Congo Free State imported laborers speaking diverse Bantu languages from various parts of central Africa to build the railroad between the Atlantic coast and the capital city, Kinshasa (then called Léopoldville). It has also been associated with the colonial auxiliaries brought from West Africa by the Belgian administrators to serve as intermediaries and interpreters. Both the laborers and auxiliaries adopted Kimanyanga, which had served as a trade lingua franca from the Atlantic coast to the interior, for communication with the locals and among themselves, while they lived segregated from both the Europeans and the locals. The particular settings in which these populations were brought to co-exist were designated as "centres extra-coutumiers" ‘non-traditional centers’, the ancestors of present-day cities, associated with modern economic activities. As the colonial administration expanded into the interior, beyond the lower Congo River area, the restructured Kimanyanga spread with it. Functioning at first as a lingua franca, it evolved into an urban vernacular. Bearing influence from the various Bantu languages it came in contact with, it speciated into a new language. From these new urban centers, it spread as a regional lingua franca. Regarding regional variation, which does not impede mutual intelligibility, see Mufwene (1997). The data for the default lect in APiCS are from the Bandundu area.

No. Feature Value Details Source
No. Feature Value Details Source


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n
Stop p b t d k g
Sibilant affricate
Non-sibilant affricate
Sibilant fricative s z
Non-sibilant fricative f v
Approximant l j
Flap or tap
Trill r
Lateral affricate
Lateral fricative
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel ehigher mid front unrounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel alow central unrounded vowel ɑːlong low back unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments
 w  voiced labial-velar glide


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value Details Source