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A documentation of the remnant Baka-Gundi language Limassa

Deposit page image for the collection ’A documentation of the remnant Baka-Gundi language Limassa’

Deposit page image for the collection ’A documentation of the remnant Baka-Gundi language Limassa’. Click on image to access collection.

Language Limassa
Depositor Benedikt Winkhart
Affiliation Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Location Republic of Congo
Deposit ID 0480
Grant ID SG0452, IGS0313
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle



Summary of the deposit

This collection aims at documenting Limassa, a language of the Baka-Gundi branch of the Mundu-Baka family and currently classified as Ubangi. In being the only securely known non-pygmy variety in the Baka-Gundi branch, Limassa may be the direct source of the Baka pygmy language complex. The estimated number of speakers is 40-45. Limassa is undescribed; only three small vocabularies exist, two of which are more than a hundred years old. The central goal of this project is a thorough linguistic study aiming at an extensive and diverse data corpus.

In order to determine its degree of endangerment the collection contains a systematic assessment of the current demographic and sociolinguistic status of the language. To this end, questionnaires on biographical/personal information in meta-language are included. This is expanded to non-Limassa speakers in order to compile information on the socio- and ethnolinguistic profile of Bomassa and address the multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic character of its population. Each biography is supplemented by photographs of the participant.

All data is collected by Benedikt Winkhart, linguist and principal investigator behind the documentation project and the members of the speaker communities themselves.


Group represented

Main target language (spoken by the Bomassa people): Limassa (Ubangi)

Other languages spoken in Bomassa village: Ngombe-Baka (Ubangi), Ngundi (Bantu), Mabenjele-Aka (Bantu), Pomo (Bantu), Sango (Ubangi), Lingala (Bantu)

Limassa is spoken mainly in Bomassa on the Sangha River in the north of the Republic of the Congo. It is the traditional settlement of the Bomassa, who are accepted as the founders of this village. The village exists since 1920 and was originally called Ngolio (‘eagel’). Today it has ca. 400 inhabitants. The population of the village is multi-ethnic as well as multi-linguistic Further languages spoken in the village are the closely related Ngombe-Baka as well as the Bantu languages Ngundi and Mabenjele-Aka. According to several accounts, speakers may also be located outside Bomassa In the first half of the 20th century some Bomassa founded smaller settlements and fishing camps on the Sangha between Ouesso and Bayanga – Some of these settlements still exist today, e.g. Mombongo, Bounda and Molongodi. Furthermore, there is evidence of occasional encounters with speakers on the Cameroonian side of the Sangha.


Special characteristics

The collection includes recordings of short word lists (based on the Leipzig-Jakarta List) for the purpose of a detailed phonological analysis. Lexical items are recorded in isolation as well as in a short phrase. The collection includes also audio and video recorded questionnaires on morpho-syntactic features, i.e. elicited grammatical structures and peer stories, as well as audio-visual recordings of personal biographical information (speakers introducing themselves) as well as natural language use in descriptive/explanatory texts (kitchen, handicraft, flora, fauna, etc.) and dialogues.

This deposit consists of material collected in the village of Bomassa as well as the two neighboring villages Boncoin (ca. 5km upstream, population: ca. 100) and Kabo (ca. 35km downstream, population: ca. 850).


Acknowledgement and citation

Users of any part of the deposit should acknowledge Benedikt Winkhart as the data collector and principal investigator. Users should also acknowledge the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme the funding body of the project. Furthermore, individual speakers whose words and/or images are used should be acknowledged by name and any other contributors who collected, transcribed or translated the data should be acknowledged by name. All information on contributors is available in the metadata.

The following citation format can be used:

Winkhart, Benedikt. 2016. A documentation of the remnant Baka-Gundi language Limassa. Endangered Languages Archive. Accessed on [insert date here].

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