Wiktionary:About Proto-Bantu

Proto-Bantu is the ancestor of the Bantu languages.



Labial Coronal Palatal Velar
Nasal *m *n
Voiceless *p *t *c *k
Voiced *b *d *j *g

Prenasal consonants are denoted with m before labials, n before other consonants.


Proto-Bantu sources use a variety of notations for the vowels. They are shown here.

High/superhigh i u i̧/u̧ i u
Near-high ɪ ʊ i u e o
Mid e o e o ɛ ɔ
Open a

On Wiktionary, the ɪ/ʊ notation is used. It is important to check which notation a source uses, to avoid confusion.


The two tones of Proto-Bantu are denoted with an acute ´ for a high tone and grave ` for a low tone. The tone marks may be omitted if they are unknown. It is also permissible to redirect a toneless form to the toned form. For example, *mʊntʊ may redirect to *mʊ̀ntʊ̀.



Proto-Bantu reconstructions should be attested in at least one language of zones A, B, or C, and one language outside of those zones (see: Guthrie classification of Bantu languages). This standard of evidence helps to ensure that reconstructed words are representative of Bantu as a whole, and not just a certain region or sub-grouping of Bantu languages. Bantu Lexical Reconstructions 3 is a great resource for finding reconstructions, but not all reconstructions listed there meet this standard of evidence.

Variant formsEdit

Many Proto-Bantu reconstructions have multiple variant forms. When listing descendants in an entry, use Template:bnt-var to group descendants by variant form. The template can also be used for derivations.

Historical considerationsEdit

Some words are widespread in Bantu languages, but are unlikely to have been words in Proto-Bantu. Considering the age of Proto-Bantu, words such as *nkókó (chicken), and *mʊ̀jʊ́ngʊ̀ (white person) must have spread across Bantu languages due to contact in historical times. Since this spread happened so long ago, there are enough regular sound correspondences that reconstructions can be made. In such cases, the context label {{lb|bnt-pro|Common Bantu}} should be placed on the definition line and a usage note added with Template:U:bnt-pro:Common transcluded in it.