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Zulu Tribe

Learn Zulu

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Zulu Language

Zulu Word
General Words and Phrases

Hello - Sawubona (First person singular) / Sanibona (First person plural)
How are you? - Unjani?
I am well. - Ngisaphila.
I am fine, thank you. - Ngisaphila ngiyabonga.
Goodbye - Hamba kahle (go well) / Sala kahle (stay well)
Good luck - Ngikufisela inhlanhla
Have a safe journey. - Ube nohambo oluhle.

yes - yebo
no - cha
please - ngiyakucela
thank you - ngiyabonga
help - siza
danger - ingozi
emergency - kuyaphuthuma
Excuse me - Uxolo
I am sorry. - Ngiyaxolisa.
I love you. - Ngiyakuthanda.

Questions / sentences
Do you accept (credit cards/traveler's cheques)? - Uyawamukela (amakhredithi khadi/amasheke ezivakashi)?
How much is this? - Kuyimalini lokhu?
I want ... - Ngifuna ...
What are you doing? - Wenzani?
What is the time? - Yisikhathisini manje?
Where are you going? - Uyaphi?


1 - one - kunye
2 - two - kubili
3 - three - kuthathu
4 - four - kune
5 - five - kuhlanu

6 - six - yisithupa
7 - seven - yisikhombisa
8 - eight - yisishiyagalombili
9 - nine - yisishiyagalolunye
10 - ten - yishumi
11 - eleven - yishumi nanye
12 - twelve - yishumi nambili
13 - thirteen - yishumi nantathu
14 - fourteen - yishumi nane
15 - fifteen - yishumi nesihlanu
20 - twenty - amashumi amabili
21 - twenty one - amashumi amabili nanye
22 - twenty two - amashumi amabili nambili
50 - fifty - amashumi amahlanu
100 - hundred - ikhulu
1000 - thousand - inkulungwane

Computers and Internet terms
computer - ikhompiyutha
e-mail - i-imeyili
Internet - i-intanethi
website - i-webhusayithi

Pronunciation Guide

a - as a in father
b - like b in English but slightly softer
bh - b (break in voicing before saying - pronounce as if it is the first sound in word)
ch - dental click (see note below)
d - d (break in voicing before saying - pronounce as if it is the first sound in word)
dl - similar to ll in Llewellyn
e - as e in send
f - as f in fat
g - as g in guinea (break in voicing before saying - pronounce as if it is the first sound in word)
gc - dental click (see note below)
gq - palatal click (see note below)
gx - lateral click (see note below)
h - as h in how
hh - as h in hotel
hl - similar to ll in Llewellyn
i - as ea in tea
j - as j in join (break in voicing before saying - pronounce as if it is the first sound in word)
k - as g in good
k - as ck in tick
kh - as c in call, followed by a strong rush of air
kl - combination of k and first sound in Llewellyn
l - as l in lull
m - as m in mum
n - as n in nun
nc - dental click (see note below)
ng - as ng in linger
nq - palatal click (see note below)
nx - lateral click (see note below)
ny - similar to ny in Kenya
o - as a in all
p - as p in tip
ph - as p in push, followed by a strong rush of air
qh - palatal click (see note below)
s - as s in say
sh - as sh in show
t - as t in pot
th - as t in take, followed by a strong rush of air
ts - as ts in pots, but sharper
tsh - like ch in cheese, but with a more forceful puff of air
u - as o in to
v - as v in vain
w - as w in well
xh - lateral click (see note below)
y - as y in you
z - as z in zoo

To pronounce the dental click, c, press the tip of the tongue against the front teeth, and then withdraw it sharply, at the same time dropping the back of the tongue from the soft palate. This sound may be compared with the sound you would make when sucking something from your upper teeth, or the sound of sympathy when someone says ts-ts.

To pronounce the palatal click, q, press the tip of the tongue against the front palate and then follow with the same procedure as with c. This sound may be compared with the sound a person would make when trying to imitate the sound of a cork being pulled from a bottle.

To pronounce the lateral click, x, place the tip of the tongue against the hard palate as if you were going to produce the n sound. Press one side of the tongue against the side of the jaw. Then, without shifting the tip of the tongue from the hard palate, withdraw the side sharply from the jaw. This sound differs from the other two in that the release takes place at the side(s) of the tongue and not at the front. This sound is sometimes made to express regret or to spur on a horse.

All from Eshowe, Zululand.

Zulu language

The Zulu language is something every Zulu is proud of to the extent that most Zulus refuse to learn other African languages as they believe everyone should understand Zulu. Other African tribes are usually given derogatory names as Zulus are the ‘superior nation’.

A few phrases and that may be of use to anyone wishing to have a basic conversation in Zulu are:
Sawubona Hello (Singular)
Sanibona Hello (Plural)
Unjani How are you?
Ngisaphila, wena unjani I am fine, how are you?
Nami ngisaphila I am also fine
Nathi sisaphila We are also fine

The conversation would go as follows:
Person greeting: “Sawubona” (Plural - ‘Sanibona’)
Response: “Yebo sawubona”
Person greeting “Kunjani” or “Unjani” (Plural - ‘Ninjani’)
Response: Ngisaphila, wena unjani (Plural – Sisaphila, nina ninjani)
Person greeting: Nami ngisaphila

If you are leaving: ‘Nisale kahle’ Stay well
If you are someone is leaving: ‘Uhambe kahle’ Go well

General prefixes when having a conversation:
When speaking Zulu, the word stays constant, it is the prefix that indicates the number of people you are addressing, in English to make a word plural, one would add an ‘s’ whereas in Zulu it is the prefix that indicates this.

‘Ngi’ I
‘U’ You
‘U’ He/She
‘Si’ We
‘Ni’ You all
‘Ba’ They

The word ‘funa’ means to want, only the prefix changes.
‘Ngifuna ushukela’ I want sugar
‘Ufuna ushukela’ You want sugar
‘Ufuna ushukela’ He/She wants sugar
‘Sifuna ushukela’ We want sugar
‘Nifuna ushukela’ All of you want sugar
‘Bafuna ushukela’ They want sugar

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