The Lingala language of the Congolese


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Rebelle (War Witch), is a film that is based on the story of an African child soldier. The setting of the language is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Much of the dialogue in the film takes place in Lingala, which is a Bantu language that is spoken in the DRC. This presented a special problem to Robert Gray, who is a Montreal film translator. This is because he did not understand Lingala yet he was expected to provide subtitles for the movie. Gary obtained a translation of the storyline in German language, which he then had to translate to English. The major challenge was that the person who translated the movie to German had not actually watched the movie but had just used the written scripts for translation. Despite the difficulties, Gary went on to successfully translate the movie, which gained Canadian nomination for the best foreign language film.

Lingala is one of the primary languages spoken in the DRC. It is also spoken in Angola. It is based on the Bobangi language that was spoken by the people, who lived along the Congo River between Kinshasa and Lisala. Bobangi was the trade language that was used in the region until the coming of the Europeans in the 19th century. Since a common language was necessary for administrative purposes and for instruction in missionary schools, they called the language Bangala, which means ‘people’, to distinguish it from the Bobangi language. The Bangala language had simple sentence and word structures and freely borrowed words from other languages. Soon, the language became popular in the region and was used by military forces, missionaries and the media. The Latin alphabet is used to write Lingala. There is no standard spelling system.

There are different variations of the Lingala language. This includes the spoken Lingala (used in informal situations), standard Lingala (used in formal situations), Kinshasa Lingala and the Brazzaville Lingala. Over 2 million people speak Lingala as a first language, while 7 million others speak it as a second language. Other languages spoken in the DRC includes Kikongo, French, Swahili and Tshiluba. Lingala has a lot of French and Portuguese loan words.

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