Luyana language

Luyana (Luyaana), also known as Luyi (Louyi, Lui, Rouyi), is a Bantu language spoken in Zambia and perhaps in small numbers in neighboring countries. It appears to be an divergent lineage of Bantu.[5] It is spoken by the Luyana people, a subgroup of the Lozi people.

Ethnologue lists Kwandi, Mbowe, Mbume, and possibly Kwangwa ("Kwanga") as dialects. Maho (2009) classifies these as distinct languages; it is not clear if any of them are part of the divergent Luyana branch of Bantu, or if they are Kavango languages.[4]

The writing system of the Luyana language was developed in 2011[6] and uses the Latin script.[6]

The language is taught in primary schools and secondary schools.[6]

Native toZambia; immigrants in Namibia, Angola
RegionOkavango River
Native speakers
480 Luyana proper in Zambia (2010 census)[1]
perhaps 7,500 in Botswana (no date; not clear if Luyana proper)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3lyn



Luyana has five simple vowels: a, e, i, o, and u.[7] o is almost always open and is rarely closed.[7] Wherever there may be hesitation between o and u, u should be used.[7]

There are no diphthongs.[7] When two vowels meet, they contract, or one is omitted.[7]


The Luyana consonant system has approximately 25 phonemes. The consonant inventory of the language is shown below.[8]

Bilabial Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar
Plosive p  b    k  ɡ
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Fricative s ʃ
Approximant j
Lateral approximant l


  1. ^ Luyana at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  2. ^ Botswana at Ethnologue
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Luyi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ a b Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  5. ^ Bantu Classification Archived 2012-06-24 at the Wayback Machine, Ehret, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c Luyana | Ethnologue
  7. ^ a b c d e Jacottet, E. 1896
  8. ^ "Luyana sound inventory (PH)". Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 2014. Retrieved February 26, 2018.

See also

Kwangwa language

Kwangwa (Kwanga) is a Bantu language of Zambia.

Maho (2009) lists K.721 Kwandi as a distinct but closely related language.Kwandi and Kwanga had once been classified as dialects of the divergent Luyana language.

Lozi language

Lozi, also known as siLozi and Rozi, is a Bantu language of the Niger–Congo language family within the Sotho–Tswana branch of Zone S (S.30), that is spoken by the Lozi people, primarily in southwestern Zambia and in surrounding countries. This language is most closely related to Northern Sotho (Sesotho sa Leboa), Tswana (Setswana), Kgalagari (SheKgalagari) and Sotho (Sesotho/Southern Sotho). Lozi and its dialects are spoken and understood by approximately six percent of the population of Zambia. Silozi is the endonym (the name of the language used by its native speakers) as defined by the United Nations. Lozi is the exonym.

The Lozi language developed from a mixture of two languages: Luyana and Kololo. The Luyana people originally migrated south from the Kingdom of Luba and Kingdom of Lunda in the Katanga area of the Congo River basin, either late in the 17th century or early in the 18th century. The language they spoke, therefore, was closely related to Luba and Lunda. They settled on the floodplains of the upper Zambezi in what is now western Zambia and developed a kingdom, Barotseland, and also gave their name to the Barotse Floodplain or Bulozi.

The Kololo were a Sotho people who used to live in what is now Lesotho. The Kololo were forced to flee from Shaka Zulu's Mfecane during the 1830s. Using tactics they had copied from the Zulu armies, the Kololo conquered the Luyana on the Zambezi floodplains and imposed their rule and language. However, by 1864 the indigenous population revolted and overthrew the Kololo. By that time, the Luyana language had been largely forgotten; the new hybrid language is called Lozi or Silozi and is closer to Sesotho than to any other neighbouring languages in Zambia.

Lozi is also spoken in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia (Zambezi Region).

Mbowe language

Mbowe (Esimbowe) is a Bantu language of Zambia.

Maho (2009) lists K.321 Mbume and K.322 Liyuwa as distinct but closely related languages. Mbowe had once been classified as a dialect of the divergent Luyana language.

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