A Niger-Congo language and a Bantu member of the Benue-Congo family of languages, spoken by c. 5 million people mainly in Zambia and in bordering areas of Tanzania and the Congo. Bemba (also known as Chibemba or Icibemba) is one of the eight official languages spoken in Zambia: English and recognized regional languages of Bemba, Nyanja, Lunda, Tonga, Nkoya, Lozi, Luvale, Kaonde. Bemba is an important lingua franca in the region.
Bemba includes a variety of closely related dialects, such as Aushi, Bisa, Chishinga, Kinda, Lala, Lamba, Luunda, and Tabwa. Each dialect exhibits minor differences in pronunciation and phonology, and very minor differences in morphology and vocabulary. The language is spelt in the Roman alphabet.
Like most Bantu languages, Bemba is a tonal language, with two basic tones, high and low. Tone is phonemic, signaling semantic distinctions between words. Modern Bemba has a number of loan words from many languages, most prominently Portuguese, Arabic, Swahili, English, Afrikaans and Zulu, reflecting the very dynamic language situation over the past couple of centuries, mainly due to the political and economic history of the region.
CLASSIFICATION = Niger-Congo family , SCRIPT = Roman