Fang language

Faŋ, Paŋwe
Native to Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, and São Tomé and Príncipe
Ethnicity Fang people
Native speakers
1 million (2006–2013)[1]
  • Southwest Fang
  • Ntoumou-Fang
  • Okak-Fang
  • Mekê-Fang
  • Mvaïe-Fang
  • Atsi-Fang
  • Nzaman-Fang
  • Mveni-Fang
Language codes
ISO 639-2 fan
ISO 639-3 fan
Glottolog fang1246 [2]
A.75,751 [3]
Idioma fang.png

Fang/ˈfɒŋ/ is a Central African language spoken by around 1 million people in Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, São Tomé and Príncipe, and the Congo Republic. It is the dominant Bantu language of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. It is related to the Bulu and Ewondo languages of southern Cameroon. Fang is spoken in northern Gabon, southern Cameroon, throughout Equatorial Guinea, in the Republic of the Congo, and small fractions of the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe. Under President Macías Nguema, Fang was the official language of Equatorial Guinea.

There are many different variants of Fang in Gabon and Cameroon. Maho (2009) lists Southwest Fang as a distinct language. The other dialects are Ntoumou, Okak, Mekê, Atsi (Batsi), Nzaman (Zaman), Mveni, and Mvaïe.

Corpus and lexicology [ edit ]

Despite lacking any truly certain corpus of Fang's literary body, it is of note that linguists have, in the past, made attempts to compile dictionaries and lexicons for the Fang language. The two most notable ones to be proposed or fully compiled were made by Maillard (2007)[4] and Bibang (2014). Neither created a direct Fang-English dictionary, but opted instead to separate the two languages via a third European language as a bridge for various loanwords.

The translation efforts to English have been done through Romance languages: specifically, Spanish and French. The latter of the two languages would likely have had the most impact on the language, given the occupation of Gabon by the French during the existence of French Equatorial Africa (itself part of French West Africa), which lasted 75 years from 1885 to 1960. To a lesser extent, in São Tomé and Príncipe, Portuguese also likely has influenced the dialects of Fang present there, due to the country being occupied by Portugal for most of the islands' history of habitation.

Phonology[5] [ edit ]

Vowels [ edit ]

Fang has 7 vowels, each of which can have short or long realizations.

Vowel Phonemes
Front (short/long) Back (short/long)
Close i iː (ĩ) u uː (ũ)
Close-mid e eː (ẽ) o oː (õ)
Open-mid ɛ ɛː (ɛ̃) ɔ ɔː (ɔ̃)
Open a aː (ã)

Nasal vowels are allophones of the respective oral vowels, when followed by a nasal consonant [ŋ] or [ɲ]. Words can not start with [ɛ], [i], [ɔ] nor [u].

Diphthongs [ edit ]

Diphthongs can be a combination of any vowel with [j] or [w], as well as [ea], [oe], [oa], [ua].

Tone [ edit ]

Fang distinguishes between 4 different tones, conventionally called: high, low, rising and falling. The former two are simple tones, while the latter are compound tones. One vowel in a sequences of vowels can be elided in casual speech, though its tone remains and attaches to the remaining vowel. [6]

Consonants [ edit ]

In Fang, there are 24 plain consonants. The majority of them can become prenasalized:

Consonant phonemes
Labial Dental Alveolar Alveopalatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p b

mp mb
t d

nt nd
k ɡ

ŋk ŋg

k͡p ɡ͡b

ŋk͡p ŋɡ͡b
Affricate t͡s d͡z

nt͡s nd͡z
Fricative f v

ɱf ɱv
s z

ns nz
Approximant l j


Tap ɾ

/h/ is only used in interjections and loanwords. Words can not start with /ŋ/, except when followed by a velar consonant. /ɾ/ and /z/ also are restricted from word-initial position. /g/ and /p/ can only come in word-initial position in words of foreign origin, although in many of these cases, /g/ becomes realized as [ŋg].

The morpheme "gh" is pronounced as ɾ in the case of the word "Beyoghe" (the Fang term for Libreville); one of several changes to pronunciation by morphology.

It is also important to note that in Fang, at every "hiatus" (shock of two vowels), such as in "Ma adzi", it is required for one to make the second word an aphetism, dropping the pronunciation of the sound at the start of the second word (e.g. "Ma dzi") in order to make grammatically correct sentences.

Phrases [ edit ]

Although the Fang language does not have an official orthography, native speakers happen to use the extended Latin alphabet with specific accents. Due to the enormous geographic region it covers, and the large amount of Fang dialects, the following list may not be entirely accurate; one issue of note is the lack of marking for tones. Regardless, common phrases for the Oyem area of northern Gabon include:

English Fang
Hello (to one person) M'bolo/Mbolo
Hello (to several people) M'bolani/Mbolo'ani
Hello (response) Am'bolo; Am'bolani
How are you? Y'o num vah?
response M'a num vah
Where are you going Wa kuh vay?; Wa ke vé?
I'm going home Ma kuh Andah
Are you okay? Onevoghe?
I'm going to school Ma ke see-kolo
I'm going for a walk Ma ke ma woolou
I'm hungry Ma woh zeng
I'm sick Ma kwan
I understand French Ma wok Flacci
I don't understand Fang Ma wok ki Fang
I don't speak Fang Ma kobe ki Fang
What did you say Wa dzon ah dzeh?
I said... Ma dzon ah...
Holy cow! A tara dzam!
I want to eat Ma cuma adji/adzi
Thank you Akiba
Thank you very much Abora

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ Fang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Fang (Equatorial Guinea)". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  4. ^ Ella, Edgar Maillard (2007-03). A Theoretical Model For a Fang-French-English Specialized Multi-Volume School Dictionary.
  5. ^ Bibang Oyee, Julián-Bibang (2014). Diccionario Español-Fang/Fang-Español. Akal.
  6. ^ Bibang Oyee, Julián (1990). Curso de lengua fang. Centro Cultural Hispano-Guineano

External links [ edit ]

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