A Grammatical Overview of Lingála
University of Ghent
Lingála is a Bantu language of Zone C, with a total of approximately 25 million native speakers and lingua franca users. It is spoken in the western and northern parts of the DR Congo (including in Kinshasa), in the Republic of the Congo (including in Brazzaville), and in northern Angola. It is also widely used among members of the Central-African diaspora throughout the Western world. Lingála’s origins go back to the pidginization of Bobangi in the 1880s, an episode to which it still owes a reduced system of noun-class agreement, as well as grammatical and lexical generalizations. Its grammar and lexicon later expanded under the influence of other languages. The system of noun-class agreement has remained limited, while many other grammatical sub-systems, such as verbal TA categories and the organization of verbal derivations, nowadays display considerable complexity.
A wide range of grammaticalization processes are still ongoing, affecting nouns, pronouns, numerals, as well as verbs. Of note are Lingála’s profuse application of nominal prefix stacking, especially with the near-generalized prefix ba-, the rigidity of the use of the connective with some adnominals in the noun phrase, and the range of periphrastic verb forms, among others.
Michael Meeuwis is professor of African languages and linguistics at the University of Ghent, Belgium. He has published widely on the grammar and history of Lingála.
ISBN 9783862880232. LINCOM Studies in African Linguistics 81. 209pp. 2010.