Bena

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A language of Tanzania

Alternate Names
Ekibena, Ikibena, Kibena
Population

670,000 (Johnstone and Mandryk 2001).

Location

Southwest central, Iringa Region, Njombe district; southwest Morogoro and north Ruvuma regions; some in Mbeya Region.

Language Maps
Language Status

5 (Developing).

Dialects

Ilembula, Kilavungi (Kilavagi), Lupembe, Masakati (Masagati), Masitu, Maswamu, Mavemba, Ngaveeta, Nyikolwe, Sovi, Twangabita. Lexical similarity: 71% with Pangwa [pbr], 65% with Hehe [heh], 55% with Sangu [sbp], 53% with Kinga [zga], 51% with Vwanji [wbi], 47% with Kisi [kiz].

Typology

SVO; prepositions; noun classes; 22 consonant phonemes; verbal affixation; 10 vowel phonemes (5 qualities, each with phonemic length contrast); tonal.

Language Use

Private domains, market, traditional rituals. All ages. Positive attitudes.

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: Low. Swahili to Bena transitional literacy work begun (SIL). Some older Bena can read and write their language as used in early 1900’s. Radio programs. NT: 1914–2012.
Writing

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Christian (Protestant).