Kwʼadza language

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Native toTanzania
RegionMbulu District
Extinctlate 20th century
Language codes
ISO 639-3wka

Kwʼadza (Qwadza), or Ngomvia, is an extinct Afroasiatic language formerly spoken in Tanzania in the Mbulu District. The last speaker died sometime between 1976 and 1999.[1]


Kwʼadza is poorly attested, and apart from perhaps being close to Aasax, its classification is not certain. Although it has a large number of identifiably Cushitic roots, the non-Cushitic numerals itame 'one' and beʼa ~ mbɛa 'two' suggest a connection with Hadza, while haka 'four' suggests a connection with Sandawe. It is possible that Kwʼadza borrowed e.g. 'four' from Sandawe, but also that it was a non-Cushitic language whose speakers were undergoing language shift to Cushitic when it was recorded.


The phonology is not certain, but the following has been suggested (Ehret 1980):


Labial Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Non-labialised Labialised
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plain plosive p b t d k ɡ kʷ ɡʷ ʔ
Plain afficate dz
Ejective tsʼ tɬʼ tʃʼ kʼʷ
Fricative f s ɬ x h
Approximant β̞ l j

/ɡ/ and /l/ have the allophones [dʒ] and [ɽ] before front vowels. /tʃʼ/ is 'mildly' ejective. Ehret reports that /kʼ/ and /kʼʷ/ are voiced [ɡ, ɡʷ] if a preceding consonant is voiced.


Front Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o
Open a


  1. ^ Raymond G. Gordon Jr., ed. 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 15th edition. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.


  • Christopher Ehret, 1980. "Kwʼadza vocabulary". ms.