Vengo language

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gháŋ vəŋóo
Native toCameroon
RegionNorth West Province
Native speakers
27,000 (2008)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3bav

Vengo (Vəŋo), or Babungo, is a Grassfields language and the language of the Vengo people from the village of Babungo in the Cameroonian Grassfields. The spelling Bamungo is also often found.

In their own language, the Vengo people call their village vengo [vəŋóo] and their language ghang vengo [gháŋ vəŋóo], which means "language of the Vengo"; it is thus officially listed under the name Vengo or Vengoo. Other names for the language are Vengi, Pengo, Ngo, Nguu, Ngwa, Nge.

Vengo is spoken by about 14,000 people. Because the Babungo people all live closely together and concentrate only in and around Vengo village, there are only small dialectical variations in their speech, which are negligible.

As it is the case for other Bantu languages except Swahili, the Vengo language uses different tone pitches, which form a distinctive feature for the meaning of the words. Babungo has even got a very complex tone system: So for the vowels there are eight distinctive pitch types or pitch sequences: high, mid, low, high-mid, high-low, low-falling, low-high, low-high-mid.

More and more people originally descending from the Babungo tribe are not able to speak the Babungo language any more. In most cases, those people acquire English as mother tongue, if they stay predominantly in the anglophone Northwest of Cameroon, otherwise French if they orient themselves towards the francophone parts of Cameroon. Most of the people in Western Cameroon speak Cameroonian Pidgin English anyway. Because more and more Babungo people distance themselves from the traditional Babungo way of life, and since there are not insignificant socio-culturally caused problems in that region, Babungo may belong to the languages threatened by extinction in the not too far future.


  • Willi Schaub: Babungo. Croom Helm Descriptive Grammars. Croom Helm Ltd., Beckenham, Kent, UK 1985, ISBN 0-7099-3352-5.


  1. ^ Vengo at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Vengo". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.