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Bemba is also known (and spelled) as follows: iciBemba, ciBemba, ichiBemba, chiBemba.
"Bemba belongs to the Bemba Group (Guthrie 1942) of Bantu." (Webbook)
Ethnologue gives its classification as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, M, Bemba (M.40)
"Bemba is a Central Bantu language. The Bantu language family is a branch of the Benue-Congo family, which is a branch of the Niger-Congo family, which is a branch of Niger-Kordofanian." (Bemba Home Page)
Bemba Home Page reports it is also spoken in border areas of southern Tanzania.
Numbers are reported variously:
In addition to the four dialects of Bemba (Ngoma, Lomotua, Nwesi, and Lembue) there is "Town Bemba," which "is to be found everywhere in the (Zambian) copperbelt" (Heine 1970). Although Town Bemba is a lingua franca, derived from Bemba, Richardson (1981) believes it is justified to consider them different languages. (Webbook)
Ethnologue lists twelve dialects as: Chishinga, Kabende, Lembue, Lomotua (Lomotwa), Luunda (Luapula), Mukulu, Ngoma, Ng'umbo, Nwesi, Town Bemba, Twa of Bangweulu, and Unga. "Town Bemba has a Bemba base with heavy codeswitching with English and neighboring Bantu languages."
Bemba Home Page lists twelve dialects as: Aushi, Bemba, Bisa, Chishinga, Kunda, Lala, Lamba, Luunda, Ng'umbo, Swaka, Tabwa, and Unga. "Because Bemba is such a widely used lingua franca, varieties of the language exist in urban areas. Urban varieties exhibit large lexical input from English and have several names, including: chiKopabeeluti [chiCopperbelt], chiTauni [chiTown], and Town Bemba."
Bemba is a national (official) language in Zambia and is widely used as a lingua franca, especially in urban areas, in Copperbelt Province, and in radio broadcasts. At least one periodical, Mbila, is known to exist. Mann (personal communication, 1986), citing Zell, ed. (1984), notes: "African Books in Print/Livres africains disponible (3d edition), Mansell Publishing Ltd reports only 29 Bemba titles in print; this probably does not include some titles prepared for and circulated directly to schools but represents a depressing decline in availability." ... Bemba has about 100 titles in print, some of which, reports Mann, "consciously reflect Town Bemba." (Webbook)
Language of wider communication. Town Bemba is a widely used lingua franca in urban, not rural areas, and it has higher social status than other languages except English. Bemba is recognized for educational and administrative purposes. (Ethnologue)
Although orthographic practices vary widely, reports Michael Mann (personal communication, 1985), there is a set of rules for spelling Bemba. These (entitled Zambia Languages Orthography, by S. Chimuka, 1976) have been published by the Zambian Ministry of Education and Culture as part of a project to standardize the orthography of Zambian languages. (Webbook)
a b c e f g i j k l m n ŋ o p s sh t u w y
(see Zambia page under Orthographies; not clear if ŋ is actively used) [need more info!]
Most fonts with standard European character set will suffice. [verfiy!]
Universal Declaration of Human Rights: http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/bem.htm
A short text with audio file is featured at http://www.linguistics.emory.edu/POLYGLOT/ofl.html
SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Bemba," http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=bem
SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables," http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp
Spitulnik, Debra, and Mubanga E. Kashoki (2000), "Bemba Home Page," http://anthropology.emory.edu/FACULTY/Spitulnik/ANTDS/Bemba/
U.S. Library of Congress, "ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages: Alpha-3 codes arranged alphabetically by the English name of language," http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/English_list.php
Wikipedia, "Bemba language," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bemba