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Zulu (isiZulu) is the language of the Zulu people, the majority of them living in South Africa.

Pronunciation guide[edit]

Note that Zulu is a tonal language, so the meaning of some words depends on whether you use a high or low pitch. For instance, "Unjani?" with a high tone on the 'u' means "How are you?" whereas a low thone on the 'u' means "How are they?"

Vowels[edit]

Zulu vowels are very similar to those found in English.

Consonants[edit]

Zulu has three click consonants, represented by "c," "q," and "x" in written Zulu.

c: Click your tongue off the back of your teeth, like a disapproving "tsk tsk."

x: This sounds like the click made to summon a horse. Click the side of your tongue off your molars, on either or both sides of your mouth.

q: This is the hardest click. It should sound somewhat like a cork being popped from a bottle. Put your tongue on the edge of your hard palate, and pull it of sharply. This will take some practice.

Here are the other consonants that can be difficult:

t like the "t" in "tea"

k somewhere between English "k" and English "g"

kh this is a digraph; it is pronounced like a hard k in Eglish, like k in "kick".

hh A digraph, this is a voiced "h", like "ch" in the Scottish "loch" but softer.

y Like the English "y"

b Like the English "b"

Phrase list[edit]

Basics[edit]

Common signs


OPEN
vula
CLOSE
vala
ENTRANCE
ngena
EXIT
phuma
PUSH
PULL
TOILET
MEN
amadoda
WOMEN
abafazi
FORBIDDEN
Hello (to one person)
Sawubona.
Hello (to a group of people)
Sanibonani.
How are you? (singular 'you')
Unjani?
How are you? (plural 'you')
Ninjani?
I'm fine.
Ngikhona.
We're fine.
Sikhona.
What's your name?
Ungubani igama lakho?
My name is _____.
Igama lami ngingu _____.
Can you help me?
Ungangisiza?
How much (does it cost)?
Yimalini?
What's the time?
Isikhathisini?
Where are you from?
Uphumaphi?
I come from ___________.
Ngiphuma _____.
Do you speak English?
Uyasikhuluma isiNgisi?
Thank you.
Ngiyabonga.
Stay well / Go well. (used as 'goodbye')
Sala kahle / Hamba kahle.

Problems[edit]

Leave me alone.
Ngiyeke!
Don't touch me!
Ungangithinti!
I will call the Police.
Ngizobiza amaPhoyisa.
Police!
Phoyisa!
Thief!
Sgebengu!
I need your help.
Ngidinga usizo lwakho.
It's an emergency.
Kuyaphuthuma.
I'm lost.
Ngidukile.
I lost my bag.
Ngilahlekelwe isikhwama sami.
I lost my wallet.
Ngilahlekelwe isikhwama sami semali.
I'm sick.
Ngiyagula.
I need a doctor.
Ngidinga udokotela.
Please can I use your phone.
Ngicela ukusebenzisa ucingo lwakho.

Numbers[edit]

Numbers in Zulu are quite complex, with all of them acting as adjectives that alter the subsequent word. The numbers listed below are the traditional Zulu numbers, but virtually all Zulu speakers use the English counting system for convenience.

zero
iqanda
one
kunye
two
kubili
three
kuthathu
four
kune
five
isihlanu
six
isithupha
seven
isikhombisa
eight
isishiyagalombili
nine
isishiyagalolunye
ten
ishumi
eleven
ishumi nanye
twelve
ishumi nambili
thirteen
ishumi nantathu
fourteen
ishumi nane
fifteen
ishumi nesihlanu
sixteen
ishumi nesithupha
seventeen
ishumi nesikhombisa
eighteen
ishumi nesishiyagalombili
nineteen
ishumi nesishiyagalolunye
twenty
amashumi amabili
twenty-one
amashumi amabili nanye
twenty-two
amashumi amabili nambili
twenty-three
amashumi amabili nantathu
twenty-four
amashumi amabili nane
twenty-five
amashumi amabili nesihlanu
twenty-six
amashumi amabili nesithupha
twenty-seven
amashumi amabili nesikhombisa
twenty-eight
amashumi amabili nesishiyagalombili
twenty-nine
amashumi amabili nesishiyagalolunye
thirty
amashumi amathathu
forty
amashumi amane
fifty
amashumi amahlanu
sixty
amashumi ayisithupha
seventy
amashumi ayisikhombisa
eighty
amashumi ayisishiyagalombili
ninety
amashumi ayisishiyagalolunye
hundred
ikhulu
one hundred one
ikhulu nanye
one hundred two
ikhulu nambili
two hundred
amakhulu amabili
three hundred
amakhulu amathathu
four hundred
amakhulu amane
five hundred
amakhulu amahlanu
six hundred
amakhulu ayisithupha
seven hundred
amakhulu ayisikhombisa
eight hundred
amakhulu ayisishiyagalombili
nine hundred
amakhulu ayisishiyagalolunye
thousand
inkulungwane
two thousand
izinkulungwane ezimbili
three thousand
izinkulungwane ezintathu
four thousand
izinkulungwane ezine
five thousand
izinkulungwane ezinhlanu
six thousand
izinkulungwane eziyisithupha
seven thousand
izinkulungwane eziyisikhombisa
eight thousand
izinkulungwane eziyisishiyagalombili
nine thousand
izinkulungwane eziyisishiyagalolunye
ten thousand
izinkulungwane eziyishumi
eleven thousand
izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezinanye
twelve thousand
izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezimbili
thirteen thousand
izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezintathu
fourteen thousand
izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezine
fifteen thousand
izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezinhlanu
sixteen thousand
izinkulungwane eziyishumi eziyisithupha
seventeen thousand
izinkulungwane eziyishumi eziyisikhombisa
eighteen thousand
izinkulungwane eziyishumi eziyisishiyagalombili
nineteen thousand
izinkulungwane eziyishumi eziyisishiyagalolunye
twenty thousand
izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamabili
thirty thousand
izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamathathu
forty thousand
izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamane
fifty thousand
izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamahlanu
sixty thousand
izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamathupha
seventy thousand
izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamakhombisa
eighty thousand
izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamaisishiyagalombili
ninety thousand
izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamaisishiyagalolunye
hundred thousand
izinkulungwane eziyikhulu
two hundred thousand
izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamabili
three hundred thousand
izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamathathu
four hundred thousand
izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamane
five hundred thousand
izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamahlanu
six hundred thousand
izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamathupha
seven hundred thousand
izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamakhombisa
eight hundred thousand
izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamaisishiyagalombili
nine hundred thousand
izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamaisishiyagalolunye
one million
isigidi

Time[edit]

now
(manje/njengamanje...)
later
(esikhathini esizayo...)
before
(esikhathini esidlulile...)
morning
(ekuseni...)
afternoon
(ntambama...)
evening
(ntambama...)
night
(ebusuku...)

Clock time[edit]

What time is it?
(ubani/sithini isikhathi...)
one o'clock (when AM/PM is obvious)
(ihora lokuqala...)
two o'clock (when AM/PM is obvious)
(ihora lesibili...)
one o'clock AM
(ihora lokuqala ekuseni...)
two o'clock AM
(ihora lesibili ekuseni...)
noon
(ntambama...)
one o'clock PM
(ihora lokuqala ntambama...)
two o'clock PM
(ihora lesibili ntambama...)
midnight
(phakathi kwamabili...)

Duration[edit]

_____ minute(s)
(imizuzu...)
_____ hour(s)
(amahora...)
_____ day(s)
(izinsuku...)
_____ week(s)
(amaviki...)
_____ month(s)
(izinyanga...)
_____ year(s)
(iminyaka...)

Days[edit]

Monday
uMsombuluko
Tuesday
uLwesibili
Wednesday
uLwesithathu
Thursday
uLwesine
Friday
uLwesihlanu
Saturday
uMgqibelo
Sunday
iSonto

Months[edit]

January
(...)
February
(...)
March
(...)
April
(...)
May
(...)
June
(...)
July
(...)
August
(...)
September
(...)
October
(...)
November
(...)
December
(...)

Writing time and date[edit]

day
(usuku...)
week
(iviki...)
month
(inyanga...)
year
(unyaka...)
century
(...)
leap year
(...)
1:00 PM
(...)
2:00 PM
(...)

Colors[edit]

blue
luhlaza okwesibhakabhaka
orange
i-orenji
purple
iPhephuli
green
luhlaza
gray
mpunga
brown
nsundu
black
mnyama
white
mhlophe

Transportation[edit]

[English word] - [Zulu word] ([plural Zulu word])

car - imoto (izimoto)

bus - ibhasi (amabhasi)

ship -umkhumbhi (imikhumbhi)

plane - indiza, ibhanoyi (izindiza, amabhanoyi)

motorcycle - isithuthuthu (izithuthuthu)

train - isitimela (izitimela)

Directions[edit]

Taxi (itekisi)[edit]
Lodging (ihhotela)[edit]
Money (iMali)[edit]

Eating[edit]

Bars[edit]

Shopping[edit]

Driving[edit]

Authority[edit]

I haven't done anything wrong.
(...)
It was a misunderstanding.
(...)
Where are you taking me?
(...)
Am I under arrest? ; (Ngiyaboshwa na?)
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen.
(...)
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate.
(...)
I want to talk to a lawyer.
(Ngifuna ukukhuluma nommeli wami)
Can I just pay a fine now?
(...)

Learning more[edit]

How do you say _____ in Zulu?
(...)
What is this/that called?
(kungabe kuyini lento/Ibizwa ngani)
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