Bantu Lexical Reconstructions 3

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In 1969, A. E. Meeussen (Royal Museum for Central Africa) wrote Bantu Lexical Reconstructions (Tervuren: pro manuscripto), which he generously distributed amongst interested colleagues and which was published posthumously in 1980. Meeussen continued to work on BLR, and a paper file was created together with E. Mumba (Institut National de Recherche Scientifique, Butare, later Musée de Lubumbashi). It has been enriched from unpublished work by A. E. Meeussen and by L. Stappers.

From 1977 onwards, A. Coupez and Y. Bastin embarked, at the request of and initially in cooperation with A. E. Meeussen, on a revised version of BLR, which was to include all of Meeussen's PB reconstructions, M. Guthrie's "comparative series" from Comparative Bantu (1967-1971), as well as reconstructions by other authors (see bibliography below), together with original additions and corrections.

During the 1980s, the whole project was transferred to a computerized database (using FileMaker Pro 2.1). The database was made public in 1998 as Bantu Lexical Reconstructions 2, and can be downloaded from CBOLD.

The www-edition of BLR 3, originally built using FileMaker Unlimited 6, has been migrated to the Zope-powered metafro website for technical convenience. It starts with essentially the same data as BLR2, albeit with numerous corrections of details. The major change consists of a classification of entries into groups of related "reconstructions", such that all PB forms supposed to be derived from the same root can now be accessed in one view (for details, cf. "Legend").

The editors (Y. Bastin and Th. Schadeberg) intend to continue working on BLR, completing the ongoing editing process. The next major step will be to link BLR reconstructions to reflexes from particular languages.


The authors express their gratitude to the persons and institutions from whom they have received generous help. In particular, they gratefully acknowledge important contributions to BLR by J.-G. Kamba (Lubumbashi) and B. Janssens (Tervuren). Special thanks are due to J.-M. Hombert (Lyon) and J. B. Lowe (Berkeley) for the initial copy of the Index of Comparative Bantu (vol. 2), and also to the Fonds E. Cassel of the Université libre de Bruxelles and Madame N. Stelandre, to the University of Wisconsin and Prof. J. Vansina, as well as to Madame P. Hadermann (Tervuren).


The works from which the majority of the reconstructions are extracted are preceded by an asterisk. The reconstructed fish names attributed to Ankei are based on his data, the author does not himself propose any protoforms.

Angenot, J. P. 1970.
La dérivation verbale dénominative dans les langues bantoues. Tervuren, Annales Sciences humaines 68, 1-53
Angenot-Bastin, Y. 1977.
Les mots pour "tout" et "seul" dans les langues bantoues. Tervuren, Annales Sciences humaines 90, 1-56
Ankei, Yuji 1986.
Connaissance populaire du poisson chez les Songola et les Bwari: Ethnoichtyologie comparée des pêcheurs du fleuve Zaïre et du Lac Tanganyika. Tervuren, Annales Sciences humaines 121, 1-37.
Bancel, P. 1986-1987.
Etude comparée des noms de mammifères dans les langues du groupe bantou A70. Lyon 2, (Mémoire) Université Lumière, 2 vol.
Bastin, Y. 1994.
Reconstruction formelle et sémantique de la dénomination de quelques mammifères en bantou. Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere 38, 5-132.
Bennett, P.R. 1967.
Dahl’s law and Thagicu. African Linguistic Studies 8, 127-151.
Blanchon, J. 1994.
Remarques sur l’article d'Yvonne Bastin concernant les noms de quatre mammifères en bantou (AAP 38, 1994). Lyon (manuscrit).
*Bourquin, W. 1923.
Neue Ur-Bantu Worstämme. Berlin, ZfES, Beiheft 5.
*Bourquin, W. 1953.
Weitere Ur-Bantu Worstämme. Afrika und Ubersee 38, 17-48.
Coupez, A. 1954.
Les phonèmes bantous g et j non précédés de nasale. Zaïre 8, 157-161.
Coupez, A. 1975.
La variabilité lexicale en bantou. African Languages, Langues africaines 1, 164-203.
Coupez, A. 1978.
Linguistic taboo concerning cattle among interlacustrine Bantu. Tweede Afrikatale Kongres van Unisa. ed. Baumbach, 217-232.
*Crabb, D.W. 1962.
Nasal and nasalised roots in Proto-South-West Bantu. Ann Arbor, OPB.
Crabb, D.W. 1965.
Ekoid Bantu languages of Ogoja, Eastern Nigeria. Part. 1, Introduction, phonology and comparative vocabulary. Cambridge, University Press.
*Dempwolff, O. 1916-1917.
Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Sprachen in Deutsch-Ostafrika: 9 Ostbantu-Wortstämme. ZfKS 7, 134-160; 167-192.
Dimmendaal, G. 1978.
The consonants of Proto-Upper-Cross and their implications of the classification of the Upper Cross languages. Leiden, (thèse) Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden.
Doneux, J.L. 1967.
Données sur la classe 15 nominale en bantou. Tervuren, Annales Sciences humaines 61, 1-22.
Doneux, J.L. 1971.
Deux études sur les interrrogatifs en zone J du bantou. Tervuren, Annales Sciences humaines 72, 119-138.
Doneux, J.L., Grégoire, Cl. 1977.
Une séquence vocalique à la finale de quelques thèmes en protobantou. Tervuren, Annales Sciences humaines 90, 159-199.
Ehret, Ch. 1973.
Patterns of Bantu and Central Sudanic settlement in central and southern Africa (ca. 1000 B.C. - 500 A.D.). Transafrican Journal of History 3, 1-71.
Ehret, Ch. 1980.
Historical inference from transformation in culture vocabularies. SUGIA 2, 189-218.
*Greenberg, J. 1948.
The tonal system of Proto-Bantu. Word 4, 192-208.
Grégoire, Cl. 1975.
Les locatifs en bantou. Tervuren, Annales Sciences humaines 83.
Grégoire, Cl. 1976.
Le champ sémantique du thème bantou *-bánjá. African Languages/Langues africaines 2, 1-12.
Guthrie, M. 1953.
The Bantu languages of Western Equatorial Africa. London.
Guthrie, M. 1960.
Teke radical structure and Common Bantu. African Language Studies 1, 1-15.
*Guthrie, M. 1967-1971.
Comparative Bantu: An introduction to the comparative linguistics and prehistory of the Bantu languages. Farnborough, Gregg International Publishers, 4 vol.
Hoffmann, C. 1953.
Zur Verbreitung der Zahlwortstämme in Bantusprachen. Afrika und Ubersee 37, 67-80.
*Homburger, L. 1914.
Etude sur la phonétique historique du bantou. Paris, Bibl. Ec. H. Et. 209.
*Homburger, L. 1925.
Le groupe sud-ouest des langues bantoues. Paris, Mission Rohan-Chabot III, 1.
Janssens, B. 1993.
Doubles réflexes consonantiques: quatre études sur le bantou de zone A: bubi, nen, bafia, ewondo. Bruxelles, (thèse) Université libre de Bruxelles.
Kadima, M. 1967.
Le thème pour "autre" dans les langues bantoues. Tervuren, Annales Sciences humaines 61, 1-22.
Kerremans, R. 1980.
Réflexes bantous en nyanga. Niamey, Revue de l’Université de Niamey, 93-109.
Meeussen, A.E. 1952.
La voyelle des radicaux CV en bantou commun. Africa 22, 367-713
Meeussen, A.E. 1954.
Klinkerlengte in het Oerbantoe. Kongo-Overzee 20, 423-431.
Meeussen, A.E, Tucker, A.N. 1955.
Les phonèmes du ganda et du bantou commun. Africa 25, 170-180.
*Meeussen, A.E. 1969.
Bantu Lexical Reconstructions. Tervuren, (manuscrit).
Meeussen, A.E. 1969.
Bemerkungen über die Zahlwörter von sechs bis zehn in Bantusprachen. "Kalima na Dimi... ." d. Dammann. - Stuttgart 11-18.
Meeussen, A.E. 1976.
Some lexical correspondences in Bantu. Tervuren, Bantu Newsletter 3 (suppl.) 2-3.
Meeussen, A.E. 1976.
Notes on tones in bantu nominal stems. African Languages/Langues africaines 2, 58-70
Meeussen, A.E. 1980.
Bantu Lexical Reconstructions. Tervuren, (reprint), Archives d’Anthropologie 27.
*Meinhof, C., Van Warmelo N. 1932.
Introduction to the phonology of the Bantu languages. Berlin.
Mouguiama-Daouda, P. 1995.
Les dénominations ethnoichtyologiques chez les bantous du Gabon: Etude de linguistique historique. Lyon (thèse) Université Lyon 2. 2 vol.
Nyirasafari, S. 1982.
Eléments d'etnozoologie bantoue. Ruhengeri, Université Nationale du Rwanda (mémoire).
Piron, P. 1995-1996.
Classification interne du groupe bantoïde. Bruxelles (thèse), Université libre de Bruxelles. 3 vol.
Schadeberg, Th.C. 1991.
Historical inferences from swahili etymologies. Unwritten testimonies of the African Past. Warsow, ed. Pitaszewicz & Rzewuski, 105-122.
Schoenbrun, D.L. 1990.
Early history in eastern Africa's Great Lakes region: Linguistic, ecological, and archaeological Approaches. ca. 500 B.C. to ca. A.D.1000. Los Angeles, (thèse), UUCLA.
Struck, B. 1922.
Die Fipasprache. Anthropos 6, 951-993.
Townshend, P. 1977.
Les jeux de mankala au Zaïre, au Rwanda et au Burundi. Bruxelles, Les Cahiers du Cedaf 3.
Tucker, A.N. 1962.
The syllabe in Luganda: a prosodic approach. Journal of African languages 1, 122-166.
Vansina, J. 1990.
Paths in the rainforest. Madison, University of Wisconsin Press.
Westphal, E.O.J. 1963.
The linguistic prehistory of southern Africa: Bush, Hottentot, Kwadi, and Bantu linguistic relationship. Africa 33, 3, 237-265.