Zulu language

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Zulu language_table_infobox_0

ZuluZulu language_header_cell_0_0_0
PronunciationZulu language_header_cell_0_1_0 [isízṳːluZulu language_cell_0_1_1
Native toZulu language_header_cell_0_2_0 South Africa, Lesotho, EswatiniZulu language_cell_0_2_1
RegionZulu language_header_cell_0_3_0 KwaZulu-Natal, eastern Gauteng, eastern Free State, southern MpumalangaZulu language_cell_0_3_1
EthnicityZulu language_header_cell_0_4_0 Zulu peopleZulu language_cell_0_4_1
Native speakersZulu language_header_cell_0_5_0 12 million (2011 census)

L2 speakers: 16 million (2002)Zulu language_cell_0_5_1

Language familyZulu language_header_cell_0_6_0 Niger–CongoZulu language_cell_0_6_1
Writing systemZulu language_header_cell_0_7_0 Latin (Zulu alphabet)

Zulu BrailleZulu language_cell_0_7_1

Signed formsZulu language_header_cell_0_8_0 Signed ZuluZulu language_cell_0_8_1
Official statusZulu language_header_cell_0_9_0
Official language inZulu language_header_cell_0_10_0 South AfricaZulu language_cell_0_10_1
Regulated byZulu language_header_cell_0_11_0 Pan South African Language BoardZulu language_cell_0_11_1
Language codesZulu language_header_cell_0_12_0
ISO 639-1Zulu language_header_cell_0_13_0 Zulu language_cell_0_13_1
ISO 639-2Zulu language_header_cell_0_14_0 Zulu language_cell_0_14_1
ISO 639-3Zulu language_header_cell_0_15_0 Zulu language_cell_0_15_1
GlottologZulu language_header_cell_0_16_0 Zulu language_cell_0_16_1
Guthrie codeZulu language_header_cell_0_17_0 S.42Zulu language_cell_0_17_1
LinguasphereZulu language_header_cell_0_18_0 incl.

varieties 99-AUT-fga to 99-AUT-fgeZulu language_cell_0_18_1

Zulu language_table_infobox_1

ZuluZulu language_header_cell_1_0_0
PersonZulu language_header_cell_1_1_0 umZuluZulu language_cell_1_1_1
PeopleZulu language_header_cell_1_2_0 amaZuluZulu language_cell_1_2_1
LanguageZulu language_header_cell_1_3_0 isiZuluZulu language_cell_1_3_1
CountryZulu language_header_cell_1_4_0 kwaZuluZulu language_cell_1_4_1

Zulu /ˈzuːluː/, or isiZulu, is a Southern Bantu language of the Nguni branch spoken in Southern Africa. Zulu language_sentence_0

It is the language of the Zulu people, with about 12 million native speakers, who primarily inhabit the province of KwaZulu-Natal of South Africa. Zulu language_sentence_1

Zulu is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa (24% of the population), and it is understood by over 50% of its population. Zulu language_sentence_2

It became one of South Africa's 11 official languages in 1994. Zulu language_sentence_3

According to Ethnologue, it is the second most widely spoken of the Bantu languages, after Swahili. Zulu language_sentence_4

Like many other Bantu languages, it is written with the Latin alphabet. Zulu language_sentence_5

In South African English, the language is often referred to in its native form, isiZulu. Zulu language_sentence_6

Geographical distribution Zulu language_section_0

Zulu migrant populations have taken it to adjacent regions, especially Zimbabwe, where the Northern Ndebele language (isiNdebele) is closely related to Zulu. Zulu language_sentence_7

Xhosa, the predominant language in the Eastern Cape, is often considered mutually intelligible with Zulu, as is Northern Ndebele. Zulu language_sentence_8

Maho (2009) lists four dialects: central KwaZulu-Natal Zulu, northern Transvaal Zulu, eastern coastal Qwabe, and western coastal Cele. Zulu language_sentence_9

History Zulu language_section_1

The Zulu, like Xhosa and other Nguni people, have lived in South Africa for a long time. Zulu language_sentence_10

The Zulu language possesses several click sounds typical of Southern African languages, not found in the rest of Africa. Zulu language_sentence_11

The Nguni people have coexisted with other Southern tribes like the San and Khoi. Zulu language_sentence_12

Zulu, like most indigenous Southern African languages, was not a written language until the arrival of missionaries from Europe, who documented the language using the Latin script. Zulu language_sentence_13

The first grammar book of the Zulu language was published in Norway in 1850 by the Norwegian missionary Hans Schreuder. Zulu language_sentence_14

The first written document in Zulu was a Bible translation that appeared in 1883. Zulu language_sentence_15

In 1901, John Dube (1871–1946), a Zulu from Natal, created the Ohlange Institute, the first native educational institution in South Africa. Zulu language_sentence_16

He was also the author of Insila kaShaka, the first novel written in Zulu (1930). Zulu language_sentence_17

Another pioneering Zulu writer was Reginald Dhlomo, author of several historical novels of the 19th-century leaders of the Zulu nation: U-Dingane (1936), U-Shaka (1937), U-Mpande (1938), U-Cetshwayo (1952) and U-Dinizulu (1968). Zulu language_sentence_18

Other notable contributors to Zulu literature include Benedict Wallet Vilakazi and, more recently, Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali. Zulu language_sentence_19

The written form of Zulu was controlled by the Zulu Language Board of KwaZulu-Natal. Zulu language_sentence_20

This board has now been disbanded and superseded by the Pan South African Language Board which promotes the use of all eleven official languages of South Africa. Zulu language_sentence_21

Contemporary usage Zulu language_section_2

English, Dutch and later Afrikaans had been the only official languages used by all South African governments before 1994. Zulu language_sentence_22

However, in the Kwazulu bantustan the Zulu language was widely used. Zulu language_sentence_23

All education in the country at the high-school level was in English or Afrikaans. Zulu language_sentence_24

Since the demise of apartheid in 1994, Zulu has been enjoying a marked revival. Zulu language_sentence_25

Zulu-language television was introduced by the SABC in the early 1980s and it broadcasts news and many shows in Zulu. Zulu language_sentence_26

Zulu radio is very popular and newspapers such as isoLezwe, Ilanga and UmAfrika in the Zulu language are available in Kwazulu-Natal province and in Johannesburg. Zulu language_sentence_27

In January 2005 the first full-length feature film in Zulu, Yesterday, was nominated for an Oscar. Zulu language_sentence_28

South African matriculation requirements no longer specify which South African language needs to be taken as a second language, and some people have made the switch to learning Zulu. Zulu language_sentence_29

However people taking Zulu at high-school level overwhelmingly take it as a first language: according to statistics, Afrikaans is still over 30 times more popular than Zulu as a second language. Zulu language_sentence_30

The mutual intelligibility of many Nguni languages has increased the likelihood of Zulu becoming the lingua franca of the eastern half of the country. Zulu language_sentence_31

In the 1994 film The Lion King, in the "Circle of Life" song, the phrases Ingonyama nengw' enamabala (English: A lion and a leopard spots), Nans' ingonyama bakithi Baba (English: Here comes a lion, Father) and Siyonqoba (English: We will conquer) were used. Zulu language_sentence_32

In some movie songs, like "This Land", the voice says Busa leli zwe bo (Rule this land) and Busa ngothando bo (Rule with love) were used too. Zulu language_sentence_33

The song Siyahamba is a South African hymn originally written in the Zulu language that became popular in North American churches in the 1990s. Zulu language_sentence_34

The 2019 worldwide hit Jerusalema contains lyrics in Zulu language. Zulu language_sentence_35

Standard vs urban Zulu Zulu language_section_3

Standard Zulu as it is taught in schools, also called "deep Zulu" (isiZulu esijulile), differs in various respects from the language spoken by people living in cities (urban Zulu, isiZulu sasedolobheni). Zulu language_sentence_36

Standard Zulu tends to be purist, using derivations from Zulu words for new concepts, whereas speakers of urban Zulu use loan words abundantly, mainly from English. Zulu language_sentence_37

For example: Zulu language_sentence_38

Zulu language_table_general_2

Standard ZuluZulu language_header_cell_2_0_0 urban ZuluZulu language_header_cell_2_0_1 EnglishZulu language_header_cell_2_0_2
umakhalekhukhwiniZulu language_cell_2_1_0 icellZulu language_cell_2_1_1 cell/mobile phoneZulu language_cell_2_1_2
NgiyezwaZulu language_cell_2_2_0 Ngiya-andastendaZulu language_cell_2_2_1 I understandZulu language_cell_2_2_2

This situation has led to problems in education because standard Zulu is often not understood by young people. Zulu language_sentence_39

Phonology Zulu language_section_4

Vowels Zulu language_section_5

The vowel system of Zulu consists of five vowels. Zulu language_sentence_40

Zulu language_table_general_3

Zulu language_header_cell_3_0_0 FrontZulu language_header_cell_3_0_1 CentralZulu language_header_cell_3_0_2 BackZulu language_header_cell_3_0_3
CloseZulu language_header_cell_3_1_0 iZulu language_cell_3_1_1 Zulu language_cell_3_1_2 uZulu language_cell_3_1_3
MidZulu language_header_cell_3_2_0 ɛZulu language_cell_3_2_1 Zulu language_cell_3_2_2 ɔZulu language_cell_3_2_3
OpenZulu language_header_cell_3_3_0 Zulu language_cell_3_3_1 aZulu language_cell_3_3_2 Zulu language_cell_3_3_3

/ɛ/ and /ɔ/ are pronounced [e] and [o], respectively, if a following syllable contains the [+ATR vowels /i/ or /u/. Zulu language_sentence_41

They are [ɛ] and [ɔ] otherwise: Zulu language_sentence_42

Zulu language_unordered_list_0

  • umgibeli "passenger", phonetically [úm̩̀ɡìɓé(ː)lì]Zulu language_item_0_0
  • ukupheka "to cook", phonetically [ùɠúpʰɛ̀(ː)ɠà]Zulu language_item_0_1

There is limited vowel length in Zulu, as a result of the contraction of certain syllables. Zulu language_sentence_43

For example, the word ithambo /íːtʰámbó/ "bone", is a contraction of an earlier ilithambo /ílítʰámbó/, which may still be used by some speakers. Zulu language_sentence_44

Likewise, uphahla /úːpʰaɬa/ "roof" is a contraction of earlier uluphahla /ulúpʰaɬa/. Zulu language_sentence_45

In addition the vowel of the penultimate syllable is allophonically lengthened phrase- or sentence-finally. Zulu language_sentence_46

Consonants Zulu language_section_6

Zulu language_ordered_list_1

  1. The plain voiceless plosives, affricates and clicks are realised phonetically as ejectives [pʼ], [tʼ], [kʼ], [tsʼ], [tʃʼ] [kxʼ].Zulu language_item_1_2
  2. When not preceded by a nasal, /ɠ/ is almost in complementary distribution with /k/ and /kʰ/. The latter two phonemes occur almost exclusively root-initially, while /ɠ/ appears exclusively medially. Recent loanwords contain /k/ and /kʰ/ in other positions, e.g. isekhondi /iːsekʰoːndi/ "second", ibhayisikili /iːbajisikiːli/ "bicycle".Zulu language_item_1_3
  3. The slack-voiced consonants are depressor consonants. These have a lowering effect on the tone of their syllable.Zulu language_item_1_4
  4. The consonant /ŋ/ occurs in some dialects as a reduction of the cluster /nɡ/ when it is not in stem-initial position, and is therefore always slack-voiced.Zulu language_item_1_5
  5. The trill /r/ is not native to Zulu and occurs only in expressive words and in recent borrowings from European languages.Zulu language_item_1_6

The use of click consonants is one of the most distinctive features of Zulu. Zulu language_sentence_47

This feature is shared with several other languages of Southern Africa, but it is very rare in other regions. Zulu language_sentence_48

There are three basic articulations of clicks in Zulu: Zulu language_sentence_49

Zulu language_unordered_list_2

  • Denti-alveolar /ǀ/, comparable to a sucking of teeth, as the sound one makes for 'tsk tsk'.Zulu language_item_2_7
  • Postalveolar /!/, comparable to a bottle top 'pop'.Zulu language_item_2_8
  • Lateral /ǁ/, comparable to a click that one may do for a walking horse.Zulu language_item_2_9

Each articulation covers five click consonants, with differences such as being slack-voiced, aspirated or nasalised, for a total of 15. Zulu language_sentence_50

Phonotactics Zulu language_section_7

Zulu syllables are canonically (N)C(w)V, and words must always end in a vowel. Zulu language_sentence_51

Consonant clusters consist of any consonant, optionally preceded by a homorganic nasal consonant (so-called "prenasalisation", described in more detail below) and optionally followed by the consonant /w/. Zulu language_sentence_52

In addition, syllabic /m̩/ occurs as a reduction of former /mu/, and acts like a true syllable: it can be syllabic even when not word-initial, and can also carry distinctive tones like a full syllable. Zulu language_sentence_53

It does not necessarily have to be homorganic with the following consonant, although the difference between homorganic nonsyllabic /mC/ and syllabic /m̩C/ is distinctive, e.g. umpetshisi /um̩pétʃiːsi/ "peach tree" (5 syllables) versus impoko /ímpoːɠo/ "grass flower" (3 syllables). Zulu language_sentence_54

Moreover, sequences of syllabic m and homorganic m can occur, e.g. ummbila /úm̩mbíːla/ "maize" (4 syllables). Zulu language_sentence_55

Recent loanwords from languages such as English may violate these constraints, by including additional consonant clusters that are not native to Zulu, such as in igremu /iːgreːmu/ "gram". Zulu language_sentence_56

There may be some variation between speakers as to whether clusters are broken up by an epenthetic vowel or not, e.g. ikhompiyutha /iːkʰompijuːtʰa/ or ikhompyutha /iːkʰompjuːtʰa/ "computer". Zulu language_sentence_57

Prosody Zulu language_section_8

Stress Zulu language_section_9

Stress in Zulu words is mostly predictable and normally falls on the penultimate syllable of a word. Zulu language_sentence_58

It is accompanied by allophonic lengthening of the vowel. Zulu language_sentence_59

When the final vowel of a word is long due to contraction, it receives the stress instead of the preceding syllable. Zulu language_sentence_60

Lengthening does not occur on all words in a sentence, however, but only those that are sentence- or phrase-final. Zulu language_sentence_61

Thus, for any word of at least two syllables, there are two different forms, one with penultimate length and one without it, occurring in complementary distribution. Zulu language_sentence_62

In some cases, there are morphemic alternations that occur as a result of word position as well. Zulu language_sentence_63

The remote demonstrative pronouns may appear with the suffix -ana when sentence-final, but only as -ā otherwise. Zulu language_sentence_64

Likewise, the recent past tense of verbs ends in -ile sentence-finally, but is reduced to -ē medially. Zulu language_sentence_65

Moreover, a falling tone can only occur on a long vowel, so the shortening has effects on tone as well. Zulu language_sentence_66

Some words, such as ideophones or interjections, can have stress that deviates from the regular pattern. Zulu language_sentence_67

Tone Zulu language_section_10

Like almost all other Bantu and other African languages, Zulu is tonal. Zulu language_sentence_68

There are three main tonemes: low, high and falling. Zulu language_sentence_69

Zulu is conventionally written without any indication of tone, but tone can be distinctive in Zulu. Zulu language_sentence_70

For example, the words for "priest" and "teacher" are both spelled umfundisi, but they are pronounced with different tones: /úm̩fúndisi/ for the "priest" meaning, and /úm̩fundísi/ for the "teacher" meaning. Zulu language_sentence_71

In principle, every syllable can be pronounced with either a high or a low tone. Zulu language_sentence_72

However, low tone does not behave the same as the other two, as high tones can "spread" into low-toned syllables while the reverse does not occur. Zulu language_sentence_73

A low tone is therefore better described as the absence of any toneme; it is a kind of default tone that is overridden by high or falling tones. Zulu language_sentence_74

The falling tone is a sequence of high-low, and occurs only on long vowels. Zulu language_sentence_75

The penultimate syllable can also bear a falling tone when it is long due to the word's position in the phrase. Zulu language_sentence_76

However, when it shortens, the falling tone becomes disallowed in that position. Zulu language_sentence_77

In principle, every morpheme has an inherent underlying tone pattern which does not change regardless of where it appears in a word. Zulu language_sentence_78

However, like most other Bantu languages, Zulu has word tone, meaning that the pattern of tones acts more like a template to assign tones to individual syllables, rather than a direct representation of the pronounced tones themselves. Zulu language_sentence_79

Consequently, the relationship between underlying tone patterns and the tones that are actually pronounced can be quite complex. Zulu language_sentence_80

Underlying high tones tend to surface rightward from the syllables where they are underlyingly present, especially in longer words. Zulu language_sentence_81

Depressor consonants Zulu language_section_11

The breathy consonant phonemes in Zulu are depressor consonants, or depressors for short. Zulu language_sentence_82

Depressor consonants have a lowering effect on pitch, adding a non-phonemic low-tone onset to the normal tone of the syllable. Zulu language_sentence_83

Thus, in syllables with depressor consonants, high tones are realised as rising, and falling tones as rising-then-falling. Zulu language_sentence_84

In both cases, the pitch does not reach as high as in non-depressed syllables. Zulu language_sentence_85

The possible tones on a syllable with a voiceless consonant like hla are [ɬá ɬâ ɬà], and the possible tones of a breathy consonant syllable, like dla, are [ɮǎ̤ ɮa̤᷈ ɮà̤]. Zulu language_sentence_86

A depressor has no effect on a syllable that's already low, but it blocks assimilation to a preceding high tone, so that the tone of the depressor syllable and any following low-tone syllables stays low. Zulu language_sentence_87

Phonological processes Zulu language_section_12

Prenasalisation Zulu language_section_13

Prenasalisation occurs whenever a consonant is preceded by a homorganic nasal, either lexically or as a consequence of prefixation. Zulu language_sentence_88

The most notable case of the latter is the class 9 noun prefix in-, which ends in a homorganic nasal. Zulu language_sentence_89

Prenasalisation triggers several changes in the following consonant, some of which are phonemic and others allophonic. Zulu language_sentence_90

The changes can be summed as follows: Zulu language_sentence_91

Zulu language_table_general_4

NormalZulu language_header_cell_4_0_0 PrenasalisedZulu language_header_cell_4_0_1 RuleZulu language_header_cell_4_0_2
/pʰ/, /tʰ/, /kʰ/Zulu language_cell_4_1_0 /mp/, /nt/, /ŋk/Zulu language_cell_4_1_1 Aspiration is lost on obstruents.Zulu language_cell_4_1_2
/ǀʰ/, /ǁʰ/, /ǃʰ/Zulu language_cell_4_2_0 /ᵑǀ/, /ᵑǁ/, /ᵑǃ/Zulu language_cell_4_2_1 Aspiration is replaced by nasalisation of clicks.Zulu language_cell_4_2_2
/ǀ/, /ǁ/, /ǃ/Zulu language_cell_4_3_0 /ᵑǀʱ/, /ᵑǁʱ/, /ᵑǃʱ/Zulu language_cell_4_3_1 Plain clicks become breathy nasal.Zulu language_cell_4_3_2
/ɓ/Zulu language_cell_4_4_0 /mb/Zulu language_cell_4_4_1 Implosive becomes breathy.Zulu language_cell_4_4_2
/f/, /s/, /ʃ/, /ɬ/

/v/, /z/, /ɮ/Zulu language_cell_4_5_0

[ɱp̪fʼ], [ntsʼ], /ntʃ/, [ntɬʼ]

[ɱb̪vʱ], [ndzʱ], [ndɮʱ]Zulu language_cell_4_5_1

Fricatives become affricates. Only phonemic, and thus reflected orthographically, for /ntʃ/.Zulu language_cell_4_5_2
/h/, /ɦ/, /w/, /wʱ/Zulu language_cell_4_6_0 [ŋx], [ŋɡʱ], [ŋɡw], [ŋɡwʱ]Zulu language_cell_4_6_1 Approximants are fortified. This change is allophonic, and not reflected in the orthography.Zulu language_cell_4_6_2
/j/Zulu language_cell_4_7_0 /ɲ/Zulu language_cell_4_7_1 Palatal approximant becomes palatal nasal.Zulu language_cell_4_7_2
/l/Zulu language_cell_4_8_0 /l/ or rarely /nd/Zulu language_cell_4_8_1 The outcome /nd/ is a fossilised outcome from the time when /d/ and /l/ were still one phoneme. See Proto-Bantu language.Zulu language_cell_4_8_2
/m/, /n/, /ɲ/Zulu language_cell_4_9_0 /m/, /n/, /ɲ/Zulu language_cell_4_9_1 No change when the following consonant is itself a nasal.Zulu language_cell_4_9_2

Tone assimilation Zulu language_section_14

Zulu has tonic assimilation: high tones tend to spread allophonically to following low-tone syllables, raising their pitch to a level just below that of adjacent high-tone syllables. Zulu language_sentence_92

A toneless syllable between a high-tone syllable and another tonic syllable assimilates to that high tone. Zulu language_sentence_93

That is, if the preceding syllable ends on a high tone and the following syllable begins with a high tone (because it is high or falling), the intermediate toneless syllable has its pitch raised as well. Zulu language_sentence_94

When the preceding syllable is high but the following is toneless, the medial toneless syllable adopts a high-tone onset from the preceding syllable, resulting in a falling tone contour. Zulu language_sentence_95

For example, the English word spoon was borrowed into Zulu as isipunu, phonemically /ísipúnu/. Zulu language_sentence_96

The second syllable si assimilates to the surrounding high tones, raising its pitch, so that it is pronounced [ísípʼúːnù] sentence-finally. Zulu language_sentence_97

If tone pitch is indicated with numbers, with 1 highest and 9 lowest pitch, then the pitches of each syllable can be denoted as 2-4-3-9. Zulu language_sentence_98

The second syllable is thus still lower in pitch than both of the adjacent syllables. Zulu language_sentence_99

Tone displacement Zulu language_section_15

Depressor consonants have an effect called tone displacement. Zulu language_sentence_100

Tone displacement occurs whenever a depressor occurs with a high tone, and causes the tone on the syllable to shift rightward onto the next syllable. Zulu language_sentence_101

If the next syllable is long, it gets a falling tone, otherwise a regular high tone. Zulu language_sentence_102

If the penultimate syllable becomes high (not falling), the final syllable dissimilates and becomes low if it wasn't already. Zulu language_sentence_103

Tone displacement is blocked under the following conditions: Zulu language_sentence_104

Zulu language_unordered_list_3

  • When the syllable has a long vowel.Zulu language_item_3_10
  • When the following syllable also has a depressor consonant.Zulu language_item_3_11
  • When the following syllable is the final syllable, and is short.Zulu language_item_3_12

Whenever tone displacement is blocked, this results in a depressor syllable with high tone, which will have the low-tone onset as described above. Zulu language_sentence_105

When the following syllable already has a high or falling tone, the tone disappears from the syllable as if it had been shifted away, but the following syllable's tone is not modified. Zulu language_sentence_106

Some examples: Zulu language_sentence_107

Zulu language_unordered_list_4

  • izipunu "spoons", the plural of isipunu from the previous section, is phonemically /ízipúnu/. Because /z/ is a depressor consonant, tone assimilation is prevented. Consequently, the word is pronounced as [ízìpʼúːnù] sentence-finally, with low tone in the second syllable.Zulu language_item_4_13
  • izintombi "girls" is phonemically /izíntombí/. /z/ is a depressor, and is not blocked, so the tone shifts to the third syllable. This syllable can be either long or short depending on sentence position. When long, the pronunciation is [ìzìntômbí], with a falling tone. However, when the third syllable is short, the tone is high, and dissimilation of the final syllable occurs, resulting in [ìzìntómbì].Zulu language_item_4_14
  • nendoda "with a man" is phonemically /nʱéndoda/. /nʱ/ is a depressor, but so is /d/, so tone displacement is blocked. Consequently, the pronunciation is [nʱěndɔ̀ːdà], with rising pitch in the first syllable due to the low-onset effect.Zulu language_item_4_15

Palatalisation Zulu language_section_16

Palatalisation is a change that affects labial and alveolar consonants whenever they are immediately followed by /j/. Zulu language_sentence_108

While palatalisation occurred historically, it is still productive, and occurs as a result of the addition of suffixes beginning with /j/. Zulu language_sentence_109

A frequent example is the diminutive suffix -yana. Zulu language_sentence_110

Moreover, Zulu does not generally tolerate sequences of a labial consonant plus /w/. Zulu language_sentence_111

Whenever /w/ follows a labial consonant, it changes to /j/, which then triggers palatalisation of the consonant. Zulu language_sentence_112

This effect can be seen in the locative forms of nouns ending in -o or -u, which changes to -weni and -wini respectively in the locative. Zulu language_sentence_113

If a labial consonant immediately precedes, palatalisation is triggered. Zulu language_sentence_114

The change also occurs in nouns beginning in ubu- with a stem beginning with a vowel. Zulu language_sentence_115

The following changes occur as a result of palatalisation: Zulu language_sentence_116

Zulu language_table_general_5

Original

consonantZulu language_header_cell_5_0_0

Palatalised

consonantZulu language_header_cell_5_0_1

ExamplesZulu language_header_cell_5_0_2
Zulu language_cell_5_1_0 ʃZulu language_cell_5_1_1 Zulu language_cell_5_1_2
Zulu language_cell_5_2_0 Zulu language_cell_5_2_1
pZulu language_cell_5_3_0 tʃʼZulu language_cell_5_3_1 Zulu language_cell_5_3_2
tZulu language_cell_5_4_0 Zulu language_cell_5_4_1
Zulu language_cell_5_5_0 Zulu language_cell_5_5_1
bZulu language_cell_5_6_0 Zulu language_cell_5_6_1 Zulu language_cell_5_6_2
dZulu language_cell_5_7_0 Zulu language_cell_5_7_1
mZulu language_cell_5_8_0 ɲZulu language_cell_5_8_1 Zulu language_cell_5_8_2
nZulu language_cell_5_9_0 Zulu language_cell_5_9_1
mpZulu language_cell_5_10_0 ntʃʼZulu language_cell_5_10_1 Zulu language_cell_5_10_2
ntZulu language_cell_5_11_0 Zulu language_cell_5_11_1
mbZulu language_cell_5_12_0 ndʒZulu language_cell_5_12_1 Zulu language_cell_5_12_2
ndZulu language_cell_5_13_0 Zulu language_cell_5_13_1

Orthography Zulu language_section_17

Latin script Zulu language_section_18

Zulu employs the 26 letters of the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Zulu language_sentence_117

However, some of the letters have different pronunciation than in English. Zulu language_sentence_118

Additional phonemes are written using sequences of multiple letters. Zulu language_sentence_119

Tone, stress and vowel length are not indicated. Zulu language_sentence_120

Zulu language_table_general_6

Letter(s)Zulu language_header_cell_6_0_0 Phoneme(s)Zulu language_header_cell_6_0_1 ExampleZulu language_header_cell_6_0_2
aZulu language_header_cell_6_1_0 /a/Zulu language_cell_6_1_1 /ámáːnzi/ "water"Zulu language_cell_6_1_2
bZulu language_header_cell_6_2_0 /b/Zulu language_cell_6_2_1 /úbaːbá/ "my/our father"Zulu language_cell_6_2_2
bhZulu language_header_cell_6_3_0 //Zulu language_cell_6_3_1 /úɠubʱâːla/ "to write"Zulu language_cell_6_3_2
cZulu language_header_cell_6_4_0 /ǀ/Zulu language_cell_6_4_1 /îːǀíːǀi/ "earring"Zulu language_cell_6_4_2
chZulu language_header_cell_6_5_0 /ǀʰ/Zulu language_cell_6_5_1 /uɠúǀʰaːza/ "to fascinate/explain"Zulu language_cell_6_5_2
dZulu language_header_cell_6_6_0 /d/Zulu language_cell_6_6_1 /íːdaːda/ "duck"Zulu language_cell_6_6_2
dlZulu language_header_cell_6_7_0 /ɮ/Zulu language_cell_6_7_1 /úɠuːɮá/ "to eat"Zulu language_cell_6_7_2
eZulu language_header_cell_6_8_0 /e/Zulu language_cell_6_8_1 /îːɓéːle/ "breast"Zulu language_cell_6_8_2
fZulu language_header_cell_6_9_0 /f/Zulu language_cell_6_9_1 /íːfu/ "cloud"Zulu language_cell_6_9_2
gZulu language_header_cell_6_10_0 /ɡ/Zulu language_cell_6_10_1 /úɡóːɡo/ "grandmother"Zulu language_cell_6_10_2
gcZulu language_header_cell_6_11_0 /ᶢǀʱ/Zulu language_cell_6_11_1 /isíᶢǀʱiːno/ "end"Zulu language_cell_6_11_2
gqZulu language_header_cell_6_12_0 /ᶢǃʱ/Zulu language_cell_6_12_1 /umúᶢǃʱiɓéːlo/ "Saturday"Zulu language_cell_6_12_2
gxZulu language_header_cell_6_13_0 /ᶢǂʱ/Zulu language_cell_6_13_1 /uɠúᶢǂʱoːɓa/ "to stamp"Zulu language_cell_6_13_2
hZulu language_header_cell_6_14_0 /h/Zulu language_cell_6_14_1 /úɠuháːmba/ "to go"Zulu language_cell_6_14_2
hhZulu language_header_cell_6_15_0 /ɦ/Zulu language_cell_6_15_1 /îːɦáːʃi/ "horse"Zulu language_cell_6_15_2
hlZulu language_header_cell_6_16_0 /ɬ/Zulu language_cell_6_16_1 /uɠúɬaːla/ "to sit"Zulu language_cell_6_16_2
iZulu language_header_cell_6_17_0 /i/Zulu language_cell_6_17_1 /ímíːni/ "daytime"Zulu language_cell_6_17_2
jZulu language_header_cell_6_18_0 //Zulu language_cell_6_18_1 /úːdʒu/ "honey"Zulu language_cell_6_18_2
kZulu language_header_cell_6_19_0 /k/Zulu language_cell_6_19_1 /îːkáːti/ "cat"Zulu language_cell_6_19_2
/ɠ/Zulu language_cell_6_20_0 /uɠúːza/ "to come"Zulu language_cell_6_20_1
khZulu language_header_cell_6_21_0 /kʰ/Zulu language_cell_6_21_1 /îːkʰâːnda/ "head"Zulu language_cell_6_21_2
klZulu language_header_cell_6_22_0 /kx/Zulu language_cell_6_22_1 /umukxómeːlo/ "prize"Zulu language_cell_6_22_2
lZulu language_header_cell_6_23_0 /l/Zulu language_cell_6_23_1 /úɠuláːla/ "sleep"Zulu language_cell_6_23_2
mZulu language_header_cell_6_24_0 /m/Zulu language_cell_6_24_1 /ímaːlí/ "money"Zulu language_cell_6_24_2
/mʱ/Zulu language_cell_6_25_0 /úmʱáːma/ "my/our mother"Zulu language_cell_6_25_1
mbZulu language_header_cell_6_26_0 /mb/Zulu language_cell_6_26_1 /ímbuːɓé/ "lion"Zulu language_cell_6_26_2
nZulu language_header_cell_6_27_0 /n/Zulu language_cell_6_27_1 /úniːna/ "his/her/their mother"Zulu language_cell_6_27_2
/nʱ/Zulu language_cell_6_28_0 /nʱéndoːda/ "with a man"Zulu language_cell_6_28_1
ncZulu language_header_cell_6_29_0 /ᵑǀ/Zulu language_cell_6_29_1 /íᵑǀwáːᵑǀwa/ "sour corn meal"Zulu language_cell_6_29_2
ngZulu language_header_cell_6_30_0 /nɡ/Zulu language_cell_6_30_1 /ínɡáːne /"a child"Zulu language_cell_6_30_2
ngcZulu language_header_cell_6_31_0 /ᵑǀʱ/Zulu language_cell_6_31_1 /íᵑǀʱoːsí/ "a bit"Zulu language_cell_6_31_2
ngqZulu language_header_cell_6_32_0 /ᵑǃʱ/Zulu language_cell_6_32_1 /íᵑǃʱoːndo/ "brain"Zulu language_cell_6_32_2
ngxZulu language_header_cell_6_33_0 /ᵑǂʱ/Zulu language_cell_6_33_1 /íᵑǂʱéːɲe/ "part"Zulu language_cell_6_33_2
njZulu language_header_cell_6_34_0 /ndʒ/Zulu language_cell_6_34_1 /îːndʒá/ "dog"Zulu language_cell_6_34_2
nkZulu language_header_cell_6_35_0 /ŋk/Zulu language_cell_6_35_1 /íŋkoːmó/ "cow"Zulu language_cell_6_35_2
nqZulu language_header_cell_6_36_0 /ᵑǃ/Zulu language_cell_6_36_1 /íᵑǃóːla/ "cart"Zulu language_cell_6_36_2
ntshZulu language_header_cell_6_37_0 /ntʃʼ/Zulu language_cell_6_37_1 /îːntʃʼé/ "ostrich"Zulu language_cell_6_37_2
nxZulu language_header_cell_6_38_0 /ᵑǂ/Zulu language_cell_6_38_1 /íːᵑǁeːɓa/ "wound"Zulu language_cell_6_38_2
nyZulu language_header_cell_6_39_0 /ɲ/Zulu language_cell_6_39_1 /íɲoːni/ "bird"Zulu language_cell_6_39_2
oZulu language_header_cell_6_40_0 /o/Zulu language_cell_6_40_1 /úːpʰoːndo/ "horn"Zulu language_cell_6_40_2
pZulu language_header_cell_6_41_0 /p/Zulu language_cell_6_41_1 /îːpíːpi/ "pipe for smoking"Zulu language_cell_6_41_2
phZulu language_header_cell_6_42_0 /pʰ/Zulu language_cell_6_42_1 /uɠúpʰeːɠa/ "to cook"Zulu language_cell_6_42_2
qZulu language_header_cell_6_43_0 /ǃ/Zulu language_cell_6_43_1 /íːǃaːǃá/ "polecat"Zulu language_cell_6_43_2
qhZulu language_header_cell_6_44_0 /ǃʰ/Zulu language_cell_6_44_1 /îːǃʰúːde/ "rooster"Zulu language_cell_6_44_2
rZulu language_header_cell_6_45_0 /r/Zulu language_cell_6_45_1 /iːrésiːpʰi/ "recipe"Zulu language_cell_6_45_2
sZulu language_header_cell_6_46_0 /s/Zulu language_cell_6_46_1 /isíːsu/ "stomach"Zulu language_cell_6_46_2
shZulu language_header_cell_6_47_0 /ʃ/Zulu language_cell_6_47_1 /îːʃûːmi/ "ten"Zulu language_cell_6_47_2
tZulu language_header_cell_6_48_0 /t/Zulu language_cell_6_48_1 /îːtíːje/ "tea"Zulu language_cell_6_48_2
thZulu language_header_cell_6_49_0 /tʰ/Zulu language_cell_6_49_1 /úɠutʰáːtʰa/ "to take"Zulu language_cell_6_49_2
tsZulu language_header_cell_6_50_0 /tsʼ/Zulu language_cell_6_50_1 /íːtsʼwaːjí/ "salt"Zulu language_cell_6_50_2
tshZulu language_header_cell_6_51_0 /tʃʼ/Zulu language_cell_6_51_1 /útʃʼaːní/ "grass"Zulu language_cell_6_51_2
uZulu language_header_cell_6_52_0 /u/Zulu language_cell_6_52_1 /úɓusûːɠu/ "night"Zulu language_cell_6_52_2
vZulu language_header_cell_6_53_0 /v/Zulu language_cell_6_53_1 /uɠúvaːla/ "to close"Zulu language_cell_6_53_2
wZulu language_header_cell_6_54_0 /w/Zulu language_cell_6_54_1 /uɠúweːla/ "to cross"Zulu language_cell_6_54_2
/wʱ/Zulu language_cell_6_55_0 /wʱúːtʰâːndo/ "It's love."Zulu language_cell_6_55_1
xZulu language_header_cell_6_56_0 /ǂ/Zulu language_cell_6_56_1 /íǂoǂo/ "frog"Zulu language_cell_6_56_2
xhZulu language_header_cell_6_57_0 /ǂʰ/Zulu language_cell_6_57_1 /úɠuǂʰáːsa/ "to support"Zulu language_cell_6_57_2
yZulu language_header_cell_6_58_0 /j/Zulu language_cell_6_58_1 /újiːsé/ "his/her/their father"Zulu language_cell_6_58_2
/jʱ/Zulu language_cell_6_59_0 /jʱintómbazâːne/ "It's a girl"Zulu language_cell_6_59_1
zZulu language_header_cell_6_60_0 /z/Zulu language_cell_6_60_1 /umúzuːzú/ "moment"Zulu language_cell_6_60_2

Reference works and older texts may use additional letters. Zulu language_sentence_121

A common former practice was to indicate the implosive /ɓ/ using the special letter ɓ, while the digraph bh would then be simply written as b. Zulu language_sentence_122

Some references may also write h after letters to indicate that they are of the depressor variety, e.g. mh, nh, yh, a practice that is standard in Xhosa orthography. Zulu language_sentence_123

Very early texts, from the early 20th century or before, tend to omit the distinction between plain and aspirated voiceless consonants, writing the latter without the h. Zulu language_sentence_124

Nouns are written with their prefixes as one orthographical word. Zulu language_sentence_125

If the prefix ends with a vowel (as most do) and the noun stem also begins with a vowel, a hyphen is inserted in between, e.g. i-Afrika. Zulu language_sentence_126

This occurs only with loanwords. Zulu language_sentence_127

Morphology Zulu language_section_19

Main article: Zulu grammar Zulu language_sentence_128

Here are some of the main features of Zulu: Zulu language_sentence_129

Zulu language_unordered_list_5

  • Word order is subject–verb–object.Zulu language_item_5_16
  • Morphologically, it is an agglutinative language.Zulu language_item_5_17
  • As in other Bantu languages, Zulu nouns are classified into morphological classes or genders (16 in Zulu), with different prefixes for singular and plural. Various parts of speech that qualify a noun must agree with the noun according to its gender. Such agreements usually reflect part of the original class with which it is agreeing. An example is the use of the class 'aba-':Zulu language_item_5_18

Zulu language_description_list_6

  • Zulu language_item_6_19
    • Bonke abantu abaqatha basepulazini bayagawula.Zulu language_item_6_20

Zulu language_description_list_7

  • Zulu language_item_7_21
    • All the strong people of the farm are felling (trees).Zulu language_item_7_22

Zulu language_description_list_8

  • The various agreements that qualify the word 'abantu' (people) can be seen in effect.Zulu language_item_8_23

Zulu language_unordered_list_9

  • Its verbal system shows a combination of temporal and aspectual categories in their finite paradigm. Typically verbs have two stems, one for present-undefinite and another for perfect. Different prefixes can be attached to these verbal stems to specify subject agreement and various degrees of past or future tense. For example, in the word uyathanda ("he loves"), the present stem of the verb is -thanda, the prefix u- expresses third-person singular subject and -ya- is a filler that is used in short sentences.Zulu language_item_9_24

Zulu language_description_list_10

  • Suffixes are also put into common use to show the causative or reciprocal forms of a verb stem.Zulu language_item_10_25

Zulu language_unordered_list_11

  • Most property words (words encoded as adjectives in English) are represented by relative. In the sentence umuntu ubomvu ("the person is red"), the word ubomvu (root -bomvu) behaves like a verb and uses the agreement prefix u-. however, there are subtle differences; for example, it does not use the prefix ya-.Zulu language_item_11_26

Morphology of root Zulu Zulu language_section_20

The root can be combined with a number of prefixes and thus create other words. Zulu language_sentence_130

For example, here is a table with a number of words constructed from the roots -Zulu and -ntu (the root for person/s, people): Zulu language_sentence_131

Zulu language_table_general_7

PrefixZulu language_header_cell_7_0_0 -zuluZulu language_header_cell_7_0_1 -ntuZulu language_header_cell_7_0_2
um(u)Zulu language_cell_7_1_0 umZulu (a Zulu person)Zulu language_cell_7_1_1 umuntu (a person)Zulu language_cell_7_1_2
ama, abaZulu language_cell_7_2_0 amaZulu (Zulu people)Zulu language_cell_7_2_1 abantu (people)Zulu language_cell_7_2_2
isiZulu language_cell_7_3_0 isiZulu (the Zulu language)Zulu language_cell_7_3_1 isintu (culture, heritage, mankind)Zulu language_cell_7_3_2
ubuZulu language_cell_7_4_0 ubuZulu (personification/Zulu-like tendencies)Zulu language_cell_7_4_1 ubuntu (humanity, compassion)Zulu language_cell_7_4_2
kwaZulu language_cell_7_5_0 kwaZulu (place of the Zulu people)Zulu language_cell_7_5_1 Zulu language_cell_7_5_2
i(li)Zulu language_cell_7_6_0 izulu (the weather/sky/heaven)Zulu language_cell_7_6_1 Zulu language_cell_7_6_2
phaZulu language_cell_7_7_0 phezulu (on top)Zulu language_cell_7_7_1 Zulu language_cell_7_7_2
eZulu language_cell_7_8_0 ezulwini (in, at, to, from heaven)Zulu language_cell_7_8_1 Zulu language_cell_7_8_2

Sample phrases and text Zulu language_section_21

The following is a list of phrases that can be used when one visits a region whose primary language is Zulu: Zulu language_sentence_132

The following is from the preamble to the Constitution of South Africa: Zulu language_sentence_133

Translation: Zulu language_sentence_134

Counting in isiZulu Zulu language_section_22

Counting from 1 to 10 Zulu language_sentence_135

The digital numerical counting etiquette on the fingers begins with the little finger of the left hand to the left thumb, and then continuing with the right-hand thumb towards the right little finger. Zulu language_sentence_136

Starting with a closed left hand, each finger is extended with each subsequent number from one to five. Zulu language_sentence_137

Once the left hand is open, then counting continues on the right hand with each finger opening in turn. Zulu language_sentence_138

It is noteworthy that in isiZulu, the names for the numbers six to nine reflect either the anatomical name of the digit (six, isithupha, means ‘thumb’), action (seven, isikhombisa, means ‘the one that points out’), or position/placement (eight, or isishiyagalombili, means ‘two remaining’, and nine, or isishiyagalolunye, indicating ‘one remaining’). Zulu language_sentence_139

Zulu language_table_general_8

IsiZuluZulu language_cell_8_0_0 EnglishZulu language_cell_8_0_1
KunyeZulu language_cell_8_1_0 OneZulu language_cell_8_1_1
KubiliZulu language_cell_8_2_0 TwoZulu language_cell_8_2_1
KuthathuZulu language_cell_8_3_0 ThreeZulu language_cell_8_3_1
KuneZulu language_cell_8_4_0 FourZulu language_cell_8_4_1
IsihlanuZulu language_cell_8_5_0 FiveZulu language_cell_8_5_1
IsithuphaZulu language_cell_8_6_0 SixZulu language_cell_8_6_1
IsikhombisaZulu language_cell_8_7_0 SevenZulu language_cell_8_7_1
IsishiyagalombiliZulu language_cell_8_8_0 EightZulu language_cell_8_8_1
IsishiyagalolunyeZulu language_cell_8_9_0 NineZulu language_cell_8_9_1
IshumiZulu language_cell_8_10_0 TenZulu language_cell_8_10_1

Months Zulu language_section_23

Months in Zulu Zulu language_sentence_140

Zulu language_table_general_9

EnglishZulu language_header_cell_9_0_0 ZuluZulu language_header_cell_9_0_1
JanuaryZulu language_cell_9_1_0 uMasinganeZulu language_cell_9_1_1
FebruaryZulu language_cell_9_2_0 uNhlolanjaZulu language_cell_9_2_1
MarchZulu language_cell_9_3_0 uNdasaZulu language_cell_9_3_1
AprilZulu language_cell_9_4_0 UMbasaZulu language_cell_9_4_1
MayZulu language_cell_9_5_0 UNhlabaZulu language_cell_9_5_1
JuneZulu language_cell_9_6_0 UNhlangulanaZulu language_cell_9_6_1
JulyZulu language_cell_9_7_0 uNtulikaziZulu language_cell_9_7_1
AugustZulu language_cell_9_8_0 UNcwabaZulu language_cell_9_8_1
SeptemberZulu language_cell_9_9_0 uManduloZulu language_cell_9_9_1
OctoberZulu language_cell_9_10_0 uMfumfuZulu language_cell_9_10_1
NovemberZulu language_cell_9_11_0 uLweziZulu language_cell_9_11_1
DecemberZulu language_cell_9_12_0 uZibandlelaZulu language_cell_9_12_1

Zulu words in South African English Zulu language_section_24

South African English has absorbed many words from the Zulu language. Zulu language_sentence_141

Others, such as the names of local animals (impala and mamba are both Zulu names) have made their way into standard English. Zulu language_sentence_142

A few examples of Zulu words used in South African English: Zulu language_sentence_143

Zulu language_unordered_list_12

  • muti (from umuthi) – medicineZulu language_item_12_27
  • donga (from udonga) – ditch (udonga means 'wall' in Zulu and is also the name for ditches caused by soil erosion)Zulu language_item_12_28
  • indaba – conference (it means 'an item of news' in Zulu)Zulu language_item_12_29
  • induna – chief or leaderZulu language_item_12_30
  • songololo (from isongololo) – millipedeZulu language_item_12_31
  • ubuntu – compassion/humanity.Zulu language_item_12_32

See also Zulu language_section_25

Zulu language_unordered_list_13


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zulu language.