Munukutuba is an alternate term used for the Kituba language, which is known by many different names amongst its speakers. In the Republic of Congo either Munukutuba or Kituba is used, with Munukutuba meaning literally “I to speak”, and the latter meaning “speech”. Conversely, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kituba is referred to as Kikongo ya leta, or simply Kikongo. Older monikers have mostly been abandoned, whilst scholars refer to the language as Kikongo-Kituba.
Kituba might best be described as a Kikongo-based Pidgin dialect derived from a group of inter-connected Bantu languages. The official language of the Republic of Congo and the national language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kituba is spoken by roughly 5.4 million people, according to a 1990 study. The DRC Kituba speakers can be found in the regions of Bas-Congo, Kwango, Kwilu, Kinshasa, Mai-Ndombe, and Kasi-Occidental. In the Republic of Congo, Kituba speakers are located mostly in the southern districts of the country, namely Kouilou, Niari, Bouenza, Lékoumou, Pool, and the capital of Brazzaville.
Although many theories exist as to the origin of Kituba, the majority of these notions seem to agree on the fact that the language appears to have grown from a trade language into a new grammatically simplified vernacular. From 1885 to 1960 this dialect was appropriated for administrative purposes by the missionaries in the area at the time, causing Kituba to become the language of choice in the large towns established during this colonial period.
As a national and official language, Kituba is favoured for provincial government, primary education, and public communication (for example, the evening news). There are no known dialects of Kituba, although the vast majority of the Kituba lexicon is taken from Kikongo, Kiyaka, Kimbala, Kisongo, Kiyansi, Lingala, Swahili, French, Portuguese, and English.
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