Documentation of cultural heritage in three endangered Bantu languages of the Kwilu (DR Congo): Ngong, Nsong and Nsambaan

This endangered language documentation project is funded by the DoBeS program of the Volkswagen foundation through a 3-year grant (2012-2015) and involves collaboration between Ghent University, Kinshasa University and the Humboldt University of Berlin.

Nsambaan, Nsong and Ngong are three closely related Bantu languages spoken in the vicinity of Kikwit Town (Kwilu district, Bandundu Province, DR Congo).

Due to increasing urbanisation and growing popularity of Kikongo and Lingala, the survival of these rural languages is severely endangered.

This project builds on a pilot PhD study which focused on the names and popular uses of animals, plants and mushrooms in five Bantu languages of the Kwilu (Hungan, Mbuun, Mpiin, Ngong and Nsong), of which two endangered languages will be further documented here, i.e. Nsong and Ngong.

The same effort to document endangered popular biological knowledge systems will be extended to a third hitherto undocumented threatened language, i.e. Nsambaan.

We aim at a more systematic documentation of the three languages in order to produce a representative sound and film archive of diverse communicative events, especially genres of oral literature, which will be transcribed and annotated and serve for future corpus-based lexical and grammatical descriptions.

Ndaa a bwal documentary [NEW]

Résumé du projet en français

Nsong women picking leaves of Tephrosia vogelii for a collective fishing event involving the whole village. Crushed pods and pounded leaves of this shrub anesthetize fish.

Kimweta Kingolo, Ngong chief of the
groupement Mudi-Kasanji listening language
recordings (JKM, 2009)