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(Ngala), a language spoken in the Republic of Zaire along the northern and southern banks of the Congo (Zaire) River. Lingala belongs to the central group of the Congo zone of the Bantu language family. Approximately 1 million people speak Lingala (1967, estimate). Lingala has several dialects, the chief of which is Mabale.
The sound system of Lingala is similar to that of all Bantu languages. Two distinctive tones—one high and one low—have been recorded. The distinguishing feature of Lingala grammatical structure is its system of concordances (16 classes). Locative classes are lacking; their grammatical functions are fulfilled by prepositions. Monosyllabic prefixes serve as class markers. Unlike other Bantu languages in the Congo zone, the system of class concordance in Lingala often breaks down on the syntactic level. The vocabulary contains a large number of borrowings from Swahili, Congo, and French.
REFERENCESEverbroeck, R. van. Grammaire et exercices lingala. Leopoldville, 1958.
Everbroeck, R. van. Lingala woordenboek. Brussels, 1956.
Blavier, E. Dictionnaire woordenboek Lingala-français-néerlandais, français-lingala-néerlandais, 2nd ed. Leopoldville, 1958.
N. V. OKHOTINA