Planned outcomes

The research outcomes aimed at are as follows:

1. Systematic documentation of Nsambaan, Nsong, Ngong: It will continue the documentation efforts started for Nsong and Ngong in the framework of Joseph Koni Muluwa's PhD study and align them with DoBeS standards. Nsambaan is nearly totally undocumented. The documentation of this language thus starts from nil. The project's main outcome will thus be a high quality audio and video archive for all three languages consisting of a large number of sound recordings and a smaller number of film recordings of a diverse, balanced and comparable set of communicative events. This documentation will be made accessible to the wider scientific community through storage in the DoBeS Digital Archive located at the MPI for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen. To this end, we will transcribe, translate, interlinearise and annotate as many texts as possible, evenly spread over the different types of targeted speech events. Our documentation efforts per language will be in proportion to the community response as well as the degree of endangerment observed in the field.

2. Corpus-based lexicons of the languages under study: An effort will be made to compile corpus-based lexicons of about 3000 words per language. Translations will be provided in French, English and Kikongo in order to serve diverse target groups. Special attention will be paid to semantic content rich in information on the material and immaterial culture and the socio-political organisation of the speech communities under study.

3. Guide of useful plants, mushrooms and animals from the Kwilu: On the basis of data collected within the framework of the principal researcher's PhD thesis and completed with new data collected amongst the Nsambaan people, a book on popular biological knowledge of Kwilu rural communities, i.e. on names, uses and folk classifications of plants, mushrooms and animals, will be compiled and published. This book is primarily aimed to be a pedagogical material usable in Congolese secondary schools, colleges and/or universities. It should raise awareness about traditional knowledge on biodiversity and the fact it is severely endangered.

4. Development of a practical orthography for the languages under study

5. Drafting of local MA dissertations at the ISP of Kikwit on certain aspects of the endangered languages under study. This will happen under the co-supervision of Joseph Koni Muluwa in collaboration with our local research assistants. In this way, we aim at promoting the involvement of Congolese students in our research.

6. Raising awareness on language endangerment, not only in the local communities and academia, but also among European audiences, for instance through an exhibition on language diversity and language loss with scientific input from the proposed documentation project.

7. Drafting of high quality academic papers on interesting lexical and grammatical phenomena observed in the documentation in order to continue linguistic research on these languages.

Thryonomys swinderianus (Nsong: , Ngong: ). The Greater Cane Rat abundantly occurs in the region. Its meat is very popular for human consumption and can be eaten without restrictions. It is hunted and trapped during day and night (JKM, 2006).


Bitis sp. (Ngong: ; Nsong: ).
Small snake commonly occurring in prairies and
along roads, as its Nsong name indicates.
It is reputed to be a fast biter (JKM, 2006).


Termitomyces clypeatus (Nsong: , Ngong:
). This fungus is among the top three
of most popular mushrooms thanks to its
delicious taste (JKM, 2006).