The Degree of Inter-relatedness of Kaonde, Tonga Nyanja and Soli Languages: A Lexicostatistical Survey

Avinat M. Chitebeta, John Lubinda


The degree of inter-relatedness between Kaonde, Tonga, Nyanja, and Soli, is the study based on a lexicostatistical survey of the two languages. Tonga being the language used for literacy and as a school subject in the Kaonde speaking areas along the boundaries of North-Western Province and Central Province of Zambia, has not been investigated to establish the degree of its inter-relatedness to Kaonde. Nyanja is the language used for literacy and a school subject in the area where (Soli) one of the languages belonging to the Bantu Botatwe group is spoken. It is, therefore, the purpose of this study to conduct a lexicostatistical analysis to establish the degree inter-relatedness between Kaonde and Tonga; Nyanja, and Soli languages and further provide additional knowledge to comparative Bantu linguistics.

The basis for comparison was ‘the Swedish list’ of the two hundred (200) vocabulary items. From each language, three translators (Informants) were carefully chosen utilizing purposeful sampling.

Collected data were analyzed using the lexicostatistical method and the presentation of the results was made using tables and pie charts. Coding was applied using a plus (+) sign for cognates and a minus (-) sign for non-cognates.

 The study used the view from historical and comparative linguistics and lexicostatistics analytical framework.

The study established that the degree of inter-relatedness between Kaonde and Tonga is 33 percent. The Researcher concludes that Kaonde and Tonga are two distinct languages and there is low mutual intelligibility based on vocabulary and lexicostatistical. Therefore, the researcher suggests that the use of Tonga for literacy in the Kaonde speaking areas in Mumbwa District be reviewed in the future. 


Kaonde, Nyanja, Swadesh List, Lexicostatistical and analysis.

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