Northern Ndebele language
|Native to|| Zimbabwe
|Region||Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South in Zimbabwe; North-East District in Botswana|
|Native speakers||1,558,000 (date missing)|
Northern Ndebele (Northern Ndebele: isiNdebele, commonly called Sindebele) is an African language. It is categorized as part of the Nguni group of Bantu languages. It is spoken by the amaNdebele, Ndebele and Matabele people of Zimbabwe. It is also known as siNdebele or simply Ndebele.
Sindebele is related to the Zulu language spoken in South Africa. The Ndebele people of Zimbabwe are descended from followers of the Zulu leader Mzilikazi. Mzilikazi and his people left kwaZulu in the early 1800s during the Mfecane. They travelled North, past what is now Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, in South Africa, and into Zimbabwe and Botswana. There are thus isiNdebele speakers in many places in Southern Africa.
The Northern Ndebele language and the Southern Ndebele language are not two variations of the same language. Both are Bantu languages, but Northern Ndebele is very similar to isiZulu. The Southern Ndebele language has similarities to the Sotho and Tswana languages.
Pronunciation[change | change source]
Vowels[change | change source]
The vowels are a, e, i, o, and u. They are pronounced like so:
|a||a in father||abantwana (children)|
|e||e in bed||emoyeni (in the air)|
|i||ee in see||siza (help)|
|o||o in bone||okhokho (ancestors)|
|u||oo in soon||umuntu (person)|
Click sounds[change | change source]
In Ndebele, there are three click sounds. They are shown with the letters c, q and x.
c is made by placing the tip of the tongue against the front upper teeth and gums, the centre of the tongue is pressed down and the tip of the tongue is moved backwards. The resulting sound is like the sound used in English to express annoyance, called a "clucking sound." Some words with this sound are cina (end), and cela (ask)
The q sound is made by raising the back of the tongue to touch the soft palate and touching the gums with the sides and tip of the tongue. The centre of the tongue is pressed down and the tip moved quickly away from the gum. The resulting sound is like the "pop" heard when quickly removing a cork from a bottle. Some words with this sound are qalisa (start) and qeda (finish).
The x sound is made by placing the tongue so that the back of the tongue touches the soft palate and the sides and tip of the tongue touch the gums. One side of the tongue is quickly pulled away from the gums. Some words with this sound are xoxa (discuss) and ixoxo (frog).
Basic phrases[change | change source]
The following are several basic phrases in isiNdebele.
|Phrase||How to say it||English meaning|
|Salibonani||hello (literally: "we have seen each other")|
|Unjani (linjani)?||How are you (you plural)?|
|Ngiyaphila (siyaphila)||I am fine (we are fine)|
|Ngikhona (sikhona)||I am fine (we are fine) (literally means "I am here")|
|Unjani wena?||How are you?|
|Yebo, ye||yes, yeah|
|Hayikhona/ hayi/ hayibo||no, nope, no way|
|Ngiyabonga (siyabonga)||I thank you (we thank you)|
|Hamba kahle||go well/ good bye (said by the person staying behind)|
|Sala kahle||stay well/ good bye (said by the person leaving)|