Learn Bemba (Icibemba)

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About Bemba (Icibemba)

Bemba is also known as Chibemba, Cibemba, Ichibemba, Icibemba, Chiwemba. It is spoken as a first language by the Bemba people in Zambia, where it is also a common language among speakers of the country’s other languages. Other speakers live in Tanzania, Botswana and the DRC. Like other languages in the same family - known as the Bantu languages - Chibemba is very phonetic: once you've learnt how to pronounce each letter, you'll be able to pronounce any word.

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Fun facts — Bemba

  • Bemba is a tonal language with only two tones but learners must be careful to distinguish 'ulúpwá', meaning 'family', from 'úlupwá' meaning 'aubergine'!
  • Like its close relative Swahili, Chibemba is a Bantu language. English words borrowed into Chibemba are adapted to the pronunciation and grammar. A 'kettle' is an 'áka-etulo' but 'kettles' are 'útu-etulo'.
  • According to Bemba grammar, all things, living and non-living, are classed into specific groups identifiable by their prefix, which has singular and plural equivalents.

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