Bantu Language Development

September 9, 2010 in Prayer, Wycliffe, Bible translation, Language, Tanzania

The majority of language communities in Tanzania are from the Bantu language family. But what is the Bantu family? Where did Bantu language groups come from? How did their single language diverge into 500 distinct languages?

Jeff and Heather, who are working with Wycliffe International and based in South Africa, have given a brief introduction to the Bantu language family:

Bantu_expansionMap of the Bantu expansion – created by Mark Dingemanse

… The Bantu peoples of Africa moved from the areas of modern-day Nigeria and Cameroon east and south to modern-day Kenya and down to South Africa.  The Bantu migration took about 1000 years.  Their language changed along the way, creating a large group of related Bantu languages.

Today, there are more than 500 different Bantu languages spoken by more than 200 million Africans in 17 African countries spanning from the equator to South Africa.  About 250 of these languages have no scripture representing about 14 million people.  Most of the Bantu languages without scripture have not been written down.  Many of the Bantu languages remaining without scripture are located in Tanzania and Uganda.  Learn more about Bantu language projects in Tanzania and Uganda. Read more

Their post goes on to explain how similarities between languages allow for tools to be developed that can take advantage of these similarities, helping one language community to build on the work of others.

Please pray for church leaders and others in these Bantu communities, and particularly for those in Katavi Region of Tanzania who are just starting to work together to make Scripture available in several related Bantu languages there.