Map – DR Congo, major languages. At present there is no standard orthography of Sonde de changes Ubs, with a variety in use in written literature, mostly newspapers, pamphlets and a few books.
Kongo was the earliest Bantu language which was committed to writing in Latin characters and had the earliest dictionary of any Bantu language. A catechism was produced under the authority of Diogo Gomes, a Jesuit born in Kongo of Portuguese parents in 1557, but no version of it exists today. In 1624, Mateus Cardoso, another Portuguese Jesuit, edited and published a Kongo translation of the Portuguese catechism of Marcos Jorge. In the back of this dictionary is found a sermon of two pages written only in Kongo. The dictionary has some 10,000 words. Additional dictionaries were created by French missionaries to the Loango coast in the 1780s, and a word list was published by Bernardo da Canecattim in 1805. Baptist missionaries who arrived in Kongo in 1879 developed a modern orthography of the language.
Holman Bentley’s Dictionary and Grammar of the Kongo Language was published in 1887. In the preface, Bentley gave credit to Nlemvo, an African, for his assistance, and described “the methods he used to compile the dictionary, which included sorting and correcting 25,000 slips of paper containing words and their definitions. Kikongo belongs to the Bantu language family. According to Malcolm Guthrie, Kikongo is in the language group H10, the Kongo languages. Kongo, though it acknowledges they may be distinct languages.
The Southern American English word “goober”, meaning peanut, comes from Kongo nguba. The word “zombie” comes from Kongo nzombie, meaning “dead. Nfumu ya nzombie” is “Chief of the dead”, or God. The word funk, or funky, in American popular music has its origin, some say, in the Kongo word Lu-fuki. The name of the Cuban dance mambo comes from a Bantu word meaning “conversation with the gods”. In addition, the roller coaster Kumba at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Tampa, Florida gets its name from the Kongo word for “roar”.