For my A to Z of Endangered Languages challenge today, we have the language Vidunda for the letter V.


Around 10,000 people speak Vidunda, a Bantu language from Tanzania which is currently classed as vulnerable. Like many endangered African languages, there is little information available on Vidunda, at least on the English-speaking internet, but there are a couple of papers by Karsten Legère that I have linked to below.

While Vidunda is certainly threatened by one of the official languages of Tanzania, Swahili, it is declining at a much slower rate than might be expected, considering the relatively small number of speakers. This is due to the fact that the areas where Vidunda is spoken, particularly the Vidunda Ward, are quite isolated and homogeneous, meaning that the people who go there to live and do not speak Vidunda still have to learn the language. There is still inter-generational transmission, from parents to children, meaning that when they start school, almost all children in this area are native Vidunda speakers.

However, the spread of Swahili has still affected the usage of Vidunda to a certain extent. As the language of official communication, Swahili is used by government officials and is taught in schools – in Legère’s paper there are graphs which show the change in Vidunda usage among children in different school years – meaning that as children get older, although they still tend to use Vidunda with their parents and grandparents, they use Swahili with their peers. Furthermore, although the Vidunda speakers are comparatively isolated, when they encounter new concepts and technologies from the surrounding areas, there is a tendency to use Swahili to understand these things, as Swahili is the language used most often outside of this area.

Legère concludes that although Vidunda is a declining language, it is stemming the tide a little due mostly to the fact that inter-generational transmission is still strong. This makes the future of Vidunda seem quite bright, although Swahili is still a dominant Bantu language that could, if the Vidunda people become less isolated, still take a strong hold here.

Sources/Further Reading

Verbix: Where on earth do they speak Vidunda?
Wikipedia: Vidunda language
Legère, Karsten: Vidunda (G38) as an Endangered Language?
Legère, Karsten: Vidunda people and their plant names
Ethnologue: Vidunda
Endangered Languages Project: Vidunda

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