4 pp. Roman, 197 pp.
1 map, 32 tables
Text language: French
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the term Kwilu (or Kouilou) describes a region that is crossed by a river of the same name. As a consequence of trading, industry, discourses and actions of the colonial administration and actions of the missionaries, a regional unity, identity and a sense of a common history was established. That was initiated in 1954 with the foundation of the district Kwilu in the southwest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
One essential element of the Kwilu identity is the local variation of Kikongo that is spoken as a lingua franca in the whole region. In addition, about 20 indigenous Bantu languages are found in Kwilu, spoken by an equal number of different ethnic groups. They can be considered as minority languages, since their utilisation is local, their number of speakers generally limited, and none of those languages has a written tradition.
As a consequence, the documentation is very poor and the language maintenance is endangered due to an increasing pressure of Kikongo and Lingala (language of the capital). The large majority of Kwilu languages (13 out of 20), namely Boma, Ding, Lwel, Mbuun, Mpiin, Mpur, Ngong, Ngwii, Nsambaan, Nsong, Nzadi and Teke, belongs to the group B.80 (classification by Guthrie 1971). They are the core of a linguistic landscape that can be considered as a large dialect continuum.
At the first glance, those languages seem closer related between each other than with other Kwilu languages. Languages of the group L.10 (Pende, Kwese and Saamba) are spoken in the south of the district, while languages of the group H.40 (Mbala and Hungan) and the group H.30 (Suku) mainly occur in the west of Kwilu. That enormous linguistic diversity makes the region Kwilu the most complex and interesting linguistic area of a historical perspective, not only of the DR Congo but for the whole Bantu area.
The comparative dictionary contains lexical data that can help reconstruct the linguistic history of the Kwilu region and link historical connections the languages maintain among each other and with languages of the neighbour regions.
The dictionary is based on a word list with 504 terms in French and English. Hence, there exist 10,584 evidences of the 21 examined Bantu languages. For this reason, the lexicon can improve our comprehension of the expansion of Bantu languages in that part of Central Africa and contributes to the preservation of intangible cultural heritage of Kwilu.