Kako language

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Native toCameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo
Native speakers
ca. 120,000 (1996–2003)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3kkj

Kako (also Mkako or Mkaka) is a Bantu language spoken mainly in Cameroon, with some speakers in the Central African Republic and the Republic of the Congo. The main population centres of Kako speakers are Batouri and Ndélélé in the East Region of Cameroon.

Once grouped with the Gbaya dialect cluster and often still referred to as part of an undefined "Gbaya-Kaka" group, Kako is now grouped in the Bantu subgroup of the Niger–Congo language family.


Kako can be divided in three main closely related dialects stretching from eastern dialect (Bεra, Bèra) near the Bertoua-Doumé area to a middle dialect (Mgbwako, Mgbako) in near the Batouri area to a western dialect (Mbondjóo, Bo-Ndjo, Kou) near the Cameroon-Central African Republic border area. The difference is the greatest between the eastern Bεra dialect and the western Mbondjóo, with the Mgbwako dialect forming a middle ground.

All three remain mutually intelligible. The Bεra and Mbondjóo dialects have 85.5% of their words in common, of which 26.4% are identical and 59.1% are cognates.[4]

Other known variants of Kako language are Bo-Rong, Lossou, Ngwendjè and Mbéssembo.


Linguistic and documentary evidence support oral traditions claiming that the people speaking Kako, and thus the language, have migrated to their present positions from further east.[4] Current evidence can trace the language back to the area just east of the current Cameroon-Central African Republic border, around the towns of Berberati and Gaza in the mid 19th century. Further extrapolation into history is speculative, though being a Bantu language it is likely to have followed the Bantu migrations out of their ancestral homeland in the southern Cameroon-Nigeria borderlands.

For their known history, the Kako language has been in close contact with various dialects of the Gbaya language. This has resulted in numerous borrowings of words. In fact, the Bεra dialect of Kako and the Yaáyuwee dialect of Kako share nearly 1% of their words, with a further 10-15% being cognates.[4]


  1. ^ Kako at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kako". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  4. ^ a b c Noss, Philip (18 May 1983). An Ethnolinguistic Approach to the History of East Central Cameroon (Gbaya-Kaka Zones. Nigeria.