IsiNdebele is the beautiful and expressive language of the Matabele/ amaNdebele people of Zimbabwe and is spoken in Southern Africa. It is sometimes called Northern Ndebele/ siNdebele. This blog gives you some simple appreciation of the isiNdebele language. Beginners please read from the bottom post before you read the newest posts at the top. Your comments are welcome for any suggestions or assistance.
IsiNdebele language: Northern Ndebele African language
Salibonani mngan'ami (hello my friend or literally "we have seen eachother friend of mine"). If you're new, please start reading from the bottom of this blog upwards. Let us just recap the basic isiNdebele sounds today bangane.
Pronunciation of vowels
There are five basic vowel sounds; a, o, u are very constant and e and i have only slight variation
a is pronounced like a in father; e.g. abantwana (children) e is pronounced like e in bed; e.g. emoyeni (in the air) i is pronounced like ee in see; e.g. siza (help) o is pronounced like o in bone; e.g. okhokho (ancestors) u is pronounced like oo in soon; e.g. umuntu (person)
In isiNdebele there are three click soundsc,qandx.
c is made by placing the tip of the tongue against the front upper teeth and gums, the centre of the tongue is depressed and the tip of the tongue is drawn backwards. The resulting sound is similar to the sound used in English to express annoyance.Some examples are cina (end), 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 depressed and the tip drawn quickly away from the gum. The resulting sound is like the "pop" heard when quickly removing the cork from a bottle.Some examples are qalisa (start), 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 One side of the tongue is quickly withdrawn from the gums.Some examples are xoxa (discuss), ixoxo (frog).
One last thing: The "tsh" sound in siNdebele is pronounced as "ch" in "chain" or "change". So the word, umtshayeli (driver) would sound like "oom-cha-yeli" and not "oom-sha-yeli" as it does it languages such as isiZulu. Also, kuyatshisa (it is hot e.g. the weather or an object) is pronounced "ku-ya-chisa". Another example would be tshaya (hit) is pronounced "cha-ya" e.g. ngizakutshaya (I am going to hit you). I obviously hope you never hear that phrase though, but there it is.
Sharp sharp bangane(slang for "cool my friends" used in many places in Southern Africa)