Ngasa language

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Native toTanzania
EthnicityNgas people
Native speakers
probably extinct (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3nsg

Ongamo, or Ngas, is a probably extinct Eastern Nilotic language of Tanzania. It is closely related to the Maa languages, but more distantly than they are to each other. Ongamo has 60% of lexical similarity with Maasai, Samburu, and Camus. Speakers have shifted to Chagga, a dominant regional Bantu language.


An expansion of Ngas speakers onto the plains north of Mount Kilimanjaro occurred in the 12th century. The language was mutually intelligible with Proto-Maasai during that period. Vocabulary retention from this time attests to the cultivation of sorghum and elusine by the Ngas. Subsequent immigration of Bantu-speaking Chagga over the next five centuries considerably reduced the extent and viability of the Ngasa language.[3]


  1. ^ Ngas at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ngasa". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Leeman, Bernard and informants. (1994). 'Ongamoi (KiNgassa): a Nilotic remnant of Kilimanjaro'. Cymru UK: Cyhoeddwr Joseph Biddulph Publisher. 20pp.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sommer, Gabriele (1992) 'A Survey on Language Death in Africa', in Brenzinger, Matthias (ed.) Language Death: Factual and Theoretical Explorations with Special Reference to East Africa. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 301–417.

External links[edit]

Ngasa profile on the Endangered Languages Project