Some linguistic variations of Bemba: A dialectological study of standard Bemba, Lunda and Dumbo

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Lumwanga, Ronald Chibwe
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The University of Zambia
This study investigated some linguistic variations among three Bemba dialects, namely: Standard Bemba, Luunda and Ŋumbo. Standard Bemba is classified by Guthrie (1948) as M42. It should be made clear that the dialect known as Luunda is different from Lunda, one of the languages spoken in North-western Province of Zambia, classified by Guthrie (1948) as L52. Standard Bemba is spoken in some districts of Northern and Muchinga Provinces, Luunda in Mwansabombwe, Mwense and Nchelenge Districts and Ŋumbo in Samfya District which includes Lubwe. The study was conducted to identify differences and similarities at phonological, morphological, and syntactic levels of linguistic analysis, and also at lexical level. The data were collected using nine (9) informants who were distributed as follows:  Three (03) from Standard Bemba;  Three (03) from Luunda; and  Three (03) from Ŋumbo Each of the informants was given a list of words, phrases and sentences written in English and asked to provide the equivalents in their dialects. Data from Standard Bemba and Luunda dialects were provided partly by the researcher’s intuition and partly by the informants. Verification was used in order to ensure validity of data. As for Ŋumbo, the data given by one participant were checked and corrected where mistakes had been made; this was done by members of the group conferring. The data that was collected was later analysed in line with the objectives of the study, which were:  To distinguish phonological variations between the dialects: Standard Bemba, Luunda and Ŋumbo;  To identify the morphological variations between the dialects: Standard Bemba, Luunda and Ŋumbo;  To establish some syntactic variations between the dialects: Standard Bemba, Luunda and Ŋumbo; and  To point out lexical variations between the dialects: Standard Bemba, Luunda and Ŋumbo. The study was informed by descriptive linguistic as it sought to describe the linguistic structures of the dialects understudy. The study established that there were variations at the levels of linguistic analysis and at lexical level as indicated in the objectives. The study found that there were more variations at lexical and phonological levels than there were at morphological and syntactic levels. The dialectal variations between Standard Bemba, on the one hand, and Luunda and Ŋumbo, on the other were ascribed to divergence while the linguistic similarities between Luunda and Ŋumbo were attributed to convergence: Luunda and Ŋumbo are geographically closer to each other than Standard Bemba is to either of them.
Languages-Zambia , Dialectology , Sociolinguistic , Bemba language-Dialectology , Lunda language-Dialectology , Dumbo language-Dialectology