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Encyclopedia > IsiZulu
Zulu (isiZulu)
Spoken in: South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland
Region: Zululand
Total speakers: ~9 million
Ranking: 87
Genetic classification: Niger-Congo language family

   Benue-Congo languages
      Narrow Bantu
         Nguni (S.40)

Official status
Official language of: South Africa
Regulated by: -
Language codes
ISO 639-1 zu
ISO 639-2 zul

Zulu, also known as isiZulu, is a language of the Zulu people with about 9 million speakers, the vast majority (over 95%) of whom live in South Africa. Zulu is the most spoken language in South Africa and became one of South Africa's 11 official languages at the end of apartheid.

Zulu is an agglutinative language which is part of the Nguni subfamily of the Bantu family of languages. One of its most distinctive features is the use of click consonants. This feature is shared with several other languages of Southern Africa, but is almost unique to this region. There are three basic clicks in Zulu:

These can be modified in several ways, eg. by aspiration, so that there are a total of about 15 different click sounds in Zulu. The same sounds occur in Xhosa, where they are used more frequently than in Zulu.

The written form of the language is controlled by the Zulu Language Board of KwaZulu-Natal.

The known history of the language is limited, but evidence of the language exists from the sixteenth century.


  Results from FactBites:
title (306 words)
IsiZulu is a South African Language that is spoken in KwaZulu and in almost all Black townships (Ghettos), especially around Johannesburg.
IsiZulu is a relatively "phonetic" language, you can almost always tell how a word is pronounced by the way it's spelt.
Unlike English or French, IsiZulu does not have silent letters, and its spelling is not as weird as English.
IOL: Yankee Zulu comes to town (602 words)
While the teaching of isiZulu in KwaZulu-Natal schools is fast losing ground among locals as Afrikaans is preferred as a second language, the indigenous language is attracting scores of foreign students from America and Europe.
IsiZulu, which incorporates values of respect, humanity and appreciation of one's culture, is proving to be very popular with international students studying at the University of Natal.
Professor Sihawu Ngubane, head of the isiZulu department at the university, said the language was now fully "established" at some universities in America, giving foreign students an opportunity to experience different cultures.
  More results at FactBites »



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