A land of language

With only 10 days until most students fly out to Cape Town, we thought it might be good to learn a few words in the native language: until we learned that there are ELEVEN official languages!

This linguistic diversity is powered mainly by the high ethnical diversity in South Africa – with the embracing of these different cultures leading Archbishop Desmond Tutu to refer to South Africa as a “rainbow nation” in 1994. Although English is the main language used for business in South Africa and is a compulsory language taught in schools, it is only the first language of 9.6% of the population (roughly 5 million people). The most commonly spoken language in South Africa is Zulu, which is spoken by 23% of the population, followed by Xhosa (16%), and Afrikaans (14%).

Xhosa is spoken by 8 million people, mainly in the Eastern Cape where the ethnic group originated. Notable Xhosa people include Nelson Mandela and Archnishop Desmond Tutu. Afrikaans is a Germanic language that evolved from Dutch and replaced Dutch as one of only two official languages (with English) of South Africa in 1925. The majority of South Africans speak a language from one of the two branches of Bantu languages, and most native speakers can understand other languages within the same branch.

However, the main languages spoken on the Western and Eastern Capes, where we will be travelling, are Afrikaans (in the western cape) and Xhosa (in the eastern cape). To this extent, here are some words that could be useful:

English Africaans Xhosa
Hello Hallo Mholweni
Goodbye Totsiens (tot-seens) Sala kakuhle
Please Asseblief Ndiyacela
Thank you Dankie Enkosi
Lion Leeu (lee-you) Ngonyama
Giraffe Kameelperd (cam-ee-el-perd) Isirafu
Elephant Olifant (oo-er-li-fant) Indlovu
Zebra Sebras (see-eh-brass) Idiza
Rhino Renoster Ibhino
Buffalo Buffels (ber-fells) Ibhokhwe
Penguin Pikkewyn (per-ker-vine) Ipenguin
Shark Haai (high) Ukrebe
Food Kos Ukutya
Water Water (var-ter) Amanzi

mw541    December 30th, 2017    South Africa   

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