Lingala is a Bantu language spoken in the western and northern sections of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (including its capital Kinshasa), in northern Angola, and in the eastern part of the
Peoples Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville). In all these areas of expansion it has mother-tongue speakers but is at the same time used by others as a lingua franca. In terms of its history, Lingala is particularly known for its recent appearance (late nineteenth century) and the pidgin-like context of its emergence. Structurally, Lingala shares with neighboring and genetically related languages a meaning-distinctive role of tone, a vowel system consisting of seven phonemes, and a use of derivational morphemes to expand the syntactic and semantic range of verb stems. However, Lingala is often viewed as an anomaly in the Bantu family because of the remarkably low complexity of its nominal morphology (i.e., a limited class concord system). Its verbal morphology, and in particular its temporal and aspectual inflection, is nonetheless notoriously complex. TAM distinctions are conveyed through the use of infixes, tone, and auxiliarization. At the level of syntax, Lingala is marked, among other things, by a specific way of forming cleft-sentences. The present volume presents an overview of the phonological, tonological, and morphological characteristics of this language, and also includes a section on the main syntactic patterns, as well as a sample text with morphemic glosses and a translation.