Learn Lingala

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About Lingala

Lingala is an official language in both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo. It is based on the Bobangi language of central Africa but also borrows words extensively from French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. It is a Bantu language (some linguists think it is actually a Bantu creole), which means it has similarities to languages as far reaching as Swahili, Zulu and Chichewa. While French is used as a lingua franca in the DRC, Lingala was historically the official language of the army and to this day is the lingua franca of the DRC's armed forces.

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Planet Earth

Where is it spoken?

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Republic of the Congo

People Talking

Number of speakers


Family Tree

Language family





Fun facts — Lingala

  • Lingala borrows heavily from French, as well as Portuguese, English and Spanish.
  • Lingala is strongly connected to popular culture and is the main language used in jazz lyrics across Central Africa.
  • Lingala had no writing system until the early 1900s, when missionaries started using the Latin script to write it.

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