Mbugu language

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Native toTanzania
RegionUsambara Mountains
Ethnicity32,000 (1987)[1]
Native speakers
7,000 (1997)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3mhd
G.20A (mixed register)
G.221 (Bantu register)

Mbugu, or Maʼa, is a mixed language of Tanzania.

The Mbugu speak two divergent registers, which have been treated as separate languages by some authorities (e.g. Tucker and Bryan): "Mbugu" or "Normal Mbugu" (autonym kiMbbugu) is purely Bantu, with vocabulary closely related to Pare, while "Maʼa" or "Inner Mbugu" (autonym kiMaʼa) consists of an inherited Cushitic vocabulary with Bantu morphology similar to that of Shambala and Pare. They share a grammar, to the point that their syntax is identical and a passage in one can be translated to the other simply by changing the content words.[5]

The Cushitic element was identified as South Cushitic by Ehret. However, Kießling (2001) notes a large East Cushitic admixture,[6] and Mous presents the Cushitic element as a register of a Bantu language, and identifies it as largely East Cushitic rather than Southern.[7]


  1. ^ Mbugu language at Ethnologue (14th ed., 2000).
  2. ^ Mbugu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mbugu". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  5. ^ Mous, Maarten (2003). The Making of a Mixed Language: the case of Maʼa/Mbugu. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins Pub. Co.
  6. ^ Roland Kießling, "South Cushitic links to East Cushitic", in Zaborski ed, 2001, New Data and New Methods in Afroasiatic Linguistics
  7. ^ Blench, 2006, Classification of Afroasiatic, ms.
  • Tosco, Mauro. 2000. 'Cushitic Overview.' Journal of Ethiopian Studies 33(2):87-121.