Molweni! Hello!

This video features South African singer Miriam Makeba singing Qongqothwane, sometimes known as the Click Song.  

This week’s WeeklyTongue is isiXhosa (Xhosa), one of the 11 official languages of the Republic of South Africa. A 2011 census found that Xhosa is the seond-most widely spoken home language in the country. Most of the speakers live in the provinces of the Eastern and Western Cape. Xhosa belongs to the Bantu language family and has around 7.9 million speakers.

Xhosa is famous for the clicks sounds in the language. Clicks are made by using the tongue (alveolar and lateral clicks), throat and teeth (dental clicks), but the language is also tonal, making it challenging for beginners. There are two main tones, low and high. In writing, the letters c, x and q represent the 15 click sounds.

There are a few dialects of Xhosa, which include Gcaleka, Bhaca, Ngqika, Thembu, Mpondomise, Mfengu, Mpondo and Bomvana.

Did you know?

1. The former president Nelson Mandela was Xhosa.

2. The South African national anthem includes some verses in Xhosa. The national anthem of South Africa is called Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, which means Lord Bless Africa in Xhosa. The song was originally a hymn from 1987 written by Enoch Sontonga, a Xhosa clergyman. In 1994 when South Africa became a democracy, the song adopted for the national anthem when it was combined with Die Stem van Suid Afrika (in Afrikaans, the voice of South Africa).

3. The first Xhosa grammar was published in 1950.

Some phrases

Hello - Molo (singlular), Molweni (plural)

How are you? Unjani? Ninjani (singular/plural)

Pleased to meet you: Ndiyavuya ukukwazi

Cheers! Impilo!

Do you speak English? Uyakwazi ukuthetha isiNgesi?

I love you - Ndiya kuthanda

Xhosa, Zulu, Ndebele and Swati are all part of the Nguni subgroup of languages and have some similarities. The Nguni subgroup is part of the South-Eastern Bantu language family.

This document discusses the morphological similarities between Zulu and Xhosa.

Omniglot has compiled a nice phrasebook to check out if you are interested in learning more. Includes numbers, colors and days of the week as well as specific vocabulary. Xhosa writing system More information on Nguni languages

Do you speak Xhosa or do you know someone who would submit a video to our channel? 
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