Bantu Languages- Beauty, Philosophy, Expression

“This alliteration, this repetition of the inflecting prefix of the noun, is the interlocking switch of Bantu. It prevents the very children from using bad grammar. Such intricacy of structure finds no parallel in any other linguistic family, except Gor and Mande in West Africa. The principle of alliterative concordance offers one of the most astonishing phenomena in human culture

The beauty, plastic power and richness of Bantu languages delight and amaze all. They possess almost limitless flexibility, pliancy and softness. Their grammatical principles are founded on the most philosophical and systematic basis. Their vocabularies are susceptible of infinite expansion. They can express even delicate shades of thought and feeling. Perhaps no other languages are capable of greater definiteness and precision. Grout doubts whether Zulu — the purest type of a Bantu dialect, the lordly language of the south, the speech of a conquering and superior race — is surpassed in forming derivatives by German or Greek. Livingstone characterized as witnesses to the poverty of their own attainments men who complain of the poverty of Bantu languages. Bentley, after referring to the flexibility, fulness, subtlety of idea and nicety of expression in Kongoan, accredits this wealth of forms and ideas to the Bantu family in bulk. The wide sway of these qualities points out their immense practical importance to civilization. Three languages may be taken as the English tongue of their respective spheres. Zulu stretches from Natal to Nyasa, Swahili from Zanzibar well=nigh across equatorial Africa, and Mbundu (Ngolan) from Portuguese West Africa far eastward. In French Kongo the Fan (Mpangwe) and in Belgian Kongo below Livingstone Falls the Kongoan are strong developing factors. But Zulu, Swahili and Mbundu form representative and standard languages for the south, the east, the west. The unity in variety of Bantu speech, its flexibleness, power of growth and molding give ground for the belief that the best elements of the best languages may be embodied in a language classic, complete and one.”

Noble, Frederic Perry.  The Redemption of Africa: A Story of Civilization, with Maps, Statistical Tables and Select Bibliography of the Literature of African Missions, Volume 1.  Revell, 1899

“The Bantu languages, in fact, are rather more closely related one to the other—even in their extremest forms—than are the Aryan languages. This is so much the case that a native of Zanzibar can very soon make himself understood on the Congo, while a man of the Cameroons would not be long before he grasped the vocabulary of the Zulu. This interesting fact must play a certain part in the political development of Africa south of the fifth degree of north latitude. The rapidity with which the Kiswahili tongue of Zanzibar—a very convenient, simple, and expressive form of Bantu speech— has spread far and wide over East Central Africa, and has even gained a footing on the Congo, hints at the possibility of the Bantu Negroes at some future time adopting a universal Bantu language for inter-communication.”

Johnston, Sir Harry Hamilton.  The Uganda Protectorate: An Attempt to Give Some Description of the Physical Geography, Botany, Zoology, Anthropology, Languages and History of the Territories Under British Protection in East Central Africa, Between the Congo Free State and the Rift Valley and Between the First Degree of South Latitude and the Fifth Degree of North Latitude, Volume 2. Hutchinson & Company, 1904


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