Human language lives a life, just as its speakers live theirs. Here at the BOP we are committed to providing examples of the Bemba language as it is spoken by real people in real situations. In 1999, Prof. Debra Spitulnik Vidali asked Maidstone Mulenga to reflect on his language. Click on the play buttons below to hear his spontaneous remarks. There are 4 audio segments total. Bemba transcriptions and English translations are provided below each segment. How to cite this page.
IciBemba. Bambi balanda ati Bemba. IciBemba e lulimi lyandi ulo nafyalwa nalo. Mung’anda ilyo nafyele, umo nafyalilwa mung’anda, bonse tulanda fye iciBemba. Nangu cakutila ku sukulu balisambilishe ukulanda icisungu, lelo lyonse twaleelanda iciBemba. IciBemba caliba icaanguka ukusambilila. Maybe pantu ndi muBemba, kuti nalanda ati calianguka. Lelo fye nangu fye bambi abashili abaBemba, balisambilila ukutila iciBemba calianguka. Pantu bengi kwena abalanda mucalo cesu. Mu Zambia mwine abalanda iciBemba balifula. Bambi balanda ukutila teti upende noku penda, minshipendwa, ico mu cisungu mulanda ati amamillions.
IciBemba. Others say Bemba. IciBemba is the language I was born with. In the home where I was born, everybody speaks iciBemba. Even though we were taught at school to speak English, we always spoke iciBemba. IciBemba is easy to learn. Maybe because I am a Bemba person I may say it is easy. However even those who are not Bemba people have learned that iciBemba is easy. Because there are many speakers (of iciBemba) in our country. There in Zambia, those who speak iciBemba are many. Some say it’s impossible to count them, they are uncountable. In English you say millions.
Nshaishibapo icitundu cimbi nangu ululimi lumbi ulumfwika ukuwama ngefyo ciBemba ciumfwika. Pantu iciBemba cilomfwika bwino napa lulimi nga uleelanda. Awe, kwati uleelya icintu icisuma.
I don’t know of another language or a tongue that sounds as good as iciBemba does. Because iciBemba sounds great even coming off the tongue as you speak. As if you are eating something tasty.
Nalisambilila ifitundu ifingi lelo nshasangapo icitundu iciyumfwika bwino pa kulanda nge ciBemba. Namashiwi fye yayako yaliba ayaba distinct, ayomfwika fye ayawama saana. Kuti nafilwa no kulanda bwino.
I have learned several languages but I have not found a language that sounds as good as iciBemba. Its words are distinct, sounding really wonderful. It’s difficult to explain accurately.
Nangu cakutila umuntu aishiba icitundu cimbi iciBemba calianguka. Ukutila kuti walanda ukuti ukucita adopt amashiwi aya mu malanguages yambi, no kuyasangula yaba kwati ciBemba. Yambi amashiwi balanda mu ciBemba yafumine mu fitundu fimbi lelo abaBemba bali yasangula kwati yabo. Elyo nangu fye babikamo icisungu, nangu iciLozi nangu iciTonga nangu imitundu imbi, tacumfwika kwati nabalufyanya iciBemba. Cumfwika fye kwati balundako fye. Kanshi iciBemba cilatwalilila ukuba icakama, icaba rich pantu cilatwalilila ukukula.
Even if someone knows another language, iciBemba is easier. It’s possible to adopt words from other languages and turn them into iciBemba. Some of the words spoken in iciBemba are from other languages but the Bemba speakers have made them their own. Even when they add in words from English, or Lozi or Tonga or any other language, it doesn’t sound like they’ve made mistakes in iciBemba. It just sounds like they are adding to the language. So iciBemba continues to be rich, rich because it continues to grow.
How to cite this page:
Mulenga, Maidstone and Debra Spitulnik Vidali (2014). “A Bemba Speaker Reflects on His Language.” Bemba Online Project. Published June 30, 2014: http://scholarblogs.emory.edu/bemba/?p=48
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