(H. H. J.)

[1] Bantu (literally Ba-ntu) is the most archaic and most widely spread term for "men," "mankind," "people," in these languages. It also indicates aptly the leading feature of this group of tongues, which is the governing of the unchangeable root by prefixes. The syllable -ntu is nowhere found now standing alone, but it originally meant "object," or possibly "person." It is also occasionally used as a relative pronoun - "that," "that which," "he who." Combined with different prefixes it has different meanings. Thus (in the purer forms of Bantu languages) muntu means "a man," bantu means "men," kintu means "a thing," bintu "things," kantu means "a little thing," tuntu "little things," and so on. This term Bantu has been often criticized, but no one has supplied a better, simpler designation for this section of Negro languages, and the name has now been definitely consecrated by usage.

[2] In Luganda and other languages of Uganda and the Victoria Nyanza, and also in Runyoro on the Victoria Nile, the word for "fowl" is enkoko. In Ki-Swahili of Zanzibar it is kuku. In Zulu it is inkuku. In some of the Cameroon languages it is lokoko, ngoko, ngok, and on the Congo it is nkogo, nsusu. On the Zambezi it is nkuku; so also throughout the tribes of Lakes Nyasa and Tanganyika, and most dialects of South Africa.

[3] From this statement are excepted those tongues classified as "semi-Bantu." In some languages of the Lower Niger and of the Gold Coast the word for "fowl" is generally traceable to a root kuba. This form kuba also enters the Cameroon region, where it exists alongside of -koko. Kuba may have arisen independently, or have been derived from the Bantu kuku.

[4] Whence the many nyanza, nyanja, nyasa, mwanza, of African geography.

[5] In using the forms Uganda, Unyoro, the writer accepts the popular mis-spelling. These countries should be called Buganda and Bunyoro, and their languages Luganda and Runyoro.

[6] It is an important and recently discovered fact (delineated in the work of the Baptist missionaries and of the Austrian traveller Dr. Franz Thonner) that the Congo at its northern and north-eastern bend, between the Rubi river and Stanley Falls, lies outside the Bantu field. The Bondonga and Wamanga languages are not Bantu. They are allied to the Mbuba-Momfu of the Ituri and Nepoko, and also to the Mundu of the Egyptian Sudan. The Mundu group extends westward to the Ubangi river, as far south as 3° 30′ N. See George Grenfell and the Congo, by Sir Harry Johnston; and Dans la Grande Forêt de l'Afrique équatoriale, by Franz Thonner (1899).

[7] These features are characteristic of almost all the Negro languages of Africa.

[8] This does not preclude the aspiration of consonants, or the occasional local change of a palatal into a guttural.

[9] As already mentioned, a somewhat similar concord is also present as regards the suffixes of the Fula and the Kiama (Tem) languages in Western Africa, and as regards the prefixes of the Timne language of Sierra Leone; it exists likewise in Hottentot and less markedly in many Aryan, Semitic and Hamitic tongues.

[10] An apparent but not a real exception to this rule is in the second person plural of the imperative mood, where an abbreviated form of the pronoun is affixed to the verb. Other phases of the verb may be occasionally emphasized by the repetition of the governing pronoun at the end.

[11] The full hypothetical forms of the prefixes as joined with definite articles - ñgumu, Mbaba, ñgimi, ñgama and so on - are added in brackets. Forms very like these are met with still in the Mt. Elgon languages (Group No. 3) and in Subiya group (No. 32).

[12] This is prominently met with in East Africa, and also in the various Bechuana dialects of Central South Africa, where it takes the form of ñ at the end of words.

[13] Or perhaps ñga-ba-ntu (afterwards ña-ba-, aba-); the form ñgabantu is actually met with in Zulu-Kaffir: also ñgumuntu.

[14] Likewise ba- may have meant "two" (Bantu root Bali = two); a dual first and then a plural.

[15] Wa- in Luganda. In Lusoga (north coast of Victoria Nyanza) Wa- becomes γa (Gha).

[16] Mi is possibly a softening of ñgi, ñi; ñgi becomes in some dialects nji, ndi, ni or mbi; there is in some of the coast Cameroon languages, and in the north-eastern Congo, a word mbi, mba for "I," "me," which seems to be borrowed from the Sudanian Mundu tongues. The possessive pronoun for the first person is devired from two forms, -ami and -añgi (-am, -añgu, -anji, -ambi, etc.).

[17] An exception to this rule is the verbal particle li or di, which means "to be."

[18] Or -ira, -era.

[19] This form may also appear as ša, as for instance aka - to be on fire becomes aša, to set on fire.

[20] In choosing this common root tanda, and applying it to the above various terminations, the writer is not prepared to say that it is associated with all of them in any one Bantu language. Although tanda is a common verb in Zulu, it has not in Zulu all these variations, and in some other language where it may by chance exhibit all the variations its own form is changed to londa or randa.