Quick Snapshot - Bena People and Their Bena Language

Quick Snapshot: Bena People and Their Bena Language

The Bena people are an ethnolinguistic group of Bantu origin. They speak the Bena language and live in the Njombe Region in the south-central part of Tanzania. The population of the Bena people was approximated to be 670,000 in 2001.

The Bena people have two clans, the Wabena from Njombe highlands and its side-shoot, the Wabena from Ulanga.

Bena Language

It is a Bantu dialect used in the Iringa region by the Bena people of Tanzania.

Bena People Language Phonology

Consonants

  Alveolar Labial Palatal Glottal Velar
Nasal n m ɲ   ɲ
Plosive Prenasal ⁿd ᵐb     ᵑɡ
Voiceless t p     k
Voiced d b     g
Affricate ts        
Fricate Prenasal ⁿs        
Voiceless s f   h  
Voiced   v      
Approximant I   j   w

Aspirated stops are nearly always used for voiceless sounds; [pʰ, kʰ, tʰ].

  • Intervocalically, /v/ can be expressed as [ʋ].
  • Before lengthy non-high vowels, [ɖ] can appear as a /d/ allophone.
  • In Maswamu dialect, [x] can be a /h/ and /k/ allophone.
  • In Twangabita dialect, [cç, tʃ] can be a /ts/ allophone.
  • [ⁿz] can be expressed as a /ⁿs/ allophone
  • In Maswamu dialect, [ɟ] might be a /j/ allophone.
  • Some speakers can express [β, ʋ] as /w/ allophones.
  • When prenasalized stops occur word-finally, they may be devoiced (for example, /ᵐb/ ~ [ᵐb̥]).

Bena People Language Vowels

  Back Central Front
Low   a a:  
Mid o o:   ɛ e:
High u u:   i i:
  • /i, u/ are expressed as glides [j, w] if they precede non-rounded vowels.

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