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Oompa-Loompas were the workers at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, who were imported by Willy Wonka direct from Loompaland.

We are first introduced to the Oompa-Loompas in Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Their songs, apparently sung in English, from the 1971 Warner Bros./Paramount Pictures "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" film are beloved:

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do
I have a perfect puzzle for you
Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-dee
If you are wise, you'll listen to me
What do you get when you guzzle down sweets?
Eating as much as an elephant eats
What are you at getting terribly fat?
What do you think will come of that?
I don't like the look of it
Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-da
If you're not greedy, you will go far
You will live in happiness too
Like the Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do

But in Dahl’s novel, we learn that the Oompa-Loompas didn’t always speak English:

Although the Oompa Loompas initially spoke only their own language, Oompa-Loompish (which Mr. Wonka was fortunately fluent in), they all now spoke English. However, the Oompa Loompas insisted on retaining their native clothing: men wore skins and women wore leaves, while the children wore nothing at all.

Has anyone ever revealed the Oompa-Loompas’ original Oompa-Loompish language? I’m not limiting to just official sources and would entertain unofficial fan efforts if those exist. (It also goes without saying and would be a stretch, but I presume that the English-sounding words Oompa-Loompas from the films speak or sing are actually, in fact, English words and not their original Oompa-Loompish which might mean something else if they were translated into English.)

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    There's a scene in the Tim Burton film where Wonka communicates with an Oompa-Loompa using a form of sign language, but it's unclear to me whether that's intended to be Oompa-Loompaish.
    – F1Krazy
    Oct 29, 2021 at 14:20

2 Answers 2

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The Oompa Loompas were originally envisioned and depicted as black African pygmies from 'deepest, darkest Africa.'

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“In the version first published, [the Oompa-Loompas were] a tribe of 3,000 amiable black pygmies who have been imported by Mr. Willy Wonka from ‘the very deepest and darkest part of the African jungle where no white man had been before.’ Mr. Wonka keeps them in the factory, where they have replaced the sacked white workers. Wonka’s little slaves are delighted with their new circumstances, and particularly with their diet of chocolate. Before they lived on green caterpillars, beetles, eucalyptus leaves, ‘and the bark of the bong-bong tree.'” [from Jeremy Treglown’s Roald Dahl: A Biography]

Politically Correct Oompa–Loompa Evolution - RoaldDahlFans

As they were an 'uncontacted' tribe (e.g uncontacted by posh white people, not uncontacted by other black people who they probably met on an almost daily basis) they most likely come from the jungles of the Congo rather than closer to the coast.

That being the case, they most likely spoke some variant of Mbenga or Mbuti or one of the other regional Pygmy dialects.

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  • Fascinating! I suppose this is not necessarily the case for the later edition’s rosy-faced whites, unless Loompaland still resides within “darkest Africa.” Oct 29, 2021 at 16:36
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    Wow, there is so much you could say about that quote from the biography.
    – Peter M
    Oct 29, 2021 at 17:05
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    @PeterM - In fairness to Dahl, after speaking to his biographer (at reasonable length) he recanted from his description of them and made them more amenable.
    – Valorum
    Oct 29, 2021 at 17:13
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    @Valorum Given the time frame in which he wrote the book, it still is a bit problematic that he re-hashed discredited pro-slavery arguments. But with that said I'm not about to go on a Roald Dahl book burning expedidition.
    – Peter M
    Oct 29, 2021 at 17:17
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    youtu.be/gElaOYANOhY
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 29, 2021 at 17:38
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They don't speak ANY real-world language. They are a fictional tribe from a fictional country. They explicitly speak Oompa-Loompish, which is a fictional language.

They don't speak Mbenga. They don't speak Mbuti. They speak their own language, called Oompa-Loompish, which doesn't actually exist in the real world.

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    You've refuted Valorum's answer, and repeated the premise of the question, but you haven't actually answered it as far as I can tell. We know that Oompa-Loompaish is a fictional language, but beyond that, do we actually know anything else about it?
    – F1Krazy
    Oct 29, 2021 at 17:26
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    @F1Krazy - I think 'refuted' is a bit strong. He's certainly disagreed with it.
    – Valorum
    Oct 29, 2021 at 17:37
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    We know what the language is called; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory advises the language is called “Oompa-Loompish.” I’m wondering if that language has ever been been revealed or any English-to-Oompa-Loompish translation has ever been published. It’s no matter that Oompa-Loompish is fictional; numerous fictional languages have been created. Oct 29, 2021 at 18:17
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    @Pete that's not what the question asks
    – OrangeDog
    Oct 29, 2021 at 19:03
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    @Silly_but_true, so you're asking if there is n invented language (like Klingon or Minionese) for the farnchise, with actual vocabulary? Your question wasn't phrased clearly. And probably not. I don't even remember ANY non-English words in the books or either film.
    – Pete
    Oct 29, 2021 at 19:20

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