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Zulu language

Zulu, also known as isiZulu, is a language of the Zulu tribe 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:

  • c - dental
  • q - alveolar
  • x - lateral
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[?].

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



  • Teach Yourself Zulu by Arnett Wilkes.

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