Throughout the history of Bantu language studies, which by now spans some
400 years, many languages (and people) have been mentioned in both
specialist and general literature.
The various language names used have varied considerably throughout the
years. In fact, it is not always self-evident what language any given name
may refer to. Not all authors agree on what is a language and what is a
dialect, or how name them. Some names used refer to languages, some to
dialects. Some refer to sociolects, secret languages, locations, etc.,
while others are simply obscure. Consequently, one quite often stumbles on
difficulties in trying to work out how any given name relates to other
identical, similar or even totally different names.
The present index of Bantu languages offers a tool to keep tabs on this
glossonymic diversity. It includes a tabular index of Bantu language names
found in the literature organised according to the New Updated Guthrie List
(Maho 2003, 2009), an update of Guthries well-known 1971-classification. In
addition, there are cross-references to the coding systems of several other
Bantu classifications, specifically those of Johnston (1919/22), Doke (Cole
1961), Cope (1971), Henrici (1973), Heine (1973), Heine, Hoff & Vossen
(1977), Bastin, Coupez & Man (1999), and SIL14 (2000).