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Using "isiZulu" in English Discourse
Robin


Joined: 16 Jan 2007
Posts: 135
Location: Nottingham Road KZN RSA
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The following is taken (partially) from an Article in Natalia 41 December 2011 by Adrian Koopman, Professor in the school of isiZulu Studies at the university of KZN.
When a Zulu person wants to say "I do not speak English" i expect him to say "Angisikhulumi isiNgisi" not "Angisikhulumi English"
Similarly an Afrikaner "Ek praat nie Engels nie"

To summarise his argument if you are speaking in English then the "Zulu language" is Zulu, and if speaking in Zulu its isiZulu

I find his reasoning clear and am reverting to the "English" usage
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Robin

I'm very interested in the Zulu language, though written word recognition than actually speaking it, especially with my Scottish accent.

Please could you expand further on what you are saying in your post, as I'm not sure exactly what this means ?

Thanks

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Robin


Joined: 16 Jan 2007
Posts: 135
Location: Nottingham Road KZN RSA
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Post apartheid "political correctness" has obviously become more important. Certain words are now highly offensive and certain words in African languages have added to "South African English" An example is the Zulu language has been referred to as "isiZulu" in certain blogs.
I thought this correct until i read the article referred to and concluded that when speaking in English the correct usage is Zulu......(referring to and meaning in the context the Zulu language) but if i was speaking in Zulu the Zulu language is isiZulu
This logic because English "language" is not referred to as English in certain languages
eg Engels in Afrikaans
isiNgisi in Zulu
obviously there are many more but i am referring to those in common usage in SA
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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The equivalent for us might mean that, when we're referring to the French or German language, we wouldn't normally say francaise or deutsch but French or German. But obviously, when speaking in their mother tongue and referring to their own language, they'd say francaise or deutsch.

If current usage (through pc or any other reason) began to suggest we referred to our continental friends' languages as francaise, deutsch or whatever, even while speaking English, this would equate with the idea of current S Africans using the term isiZulu when referring to that language, even when speaking English or Afrikaans. This idea has, it seems, been on the increase but Robin is suggesting the article he has read describes a more sensible approach. When speaking in his own language, the Zulu will still describe his own language as isiZulu, but Robin is suggesting that we (when speaking English) would say: "My neighbour is a Zulu and speaks Zulu - not "...and speaks isiZulu."

You might have noticed a few on here use the term isiZulu - Keith, Paul etc., both of whom are more familiar with the workings of the language than most of us - and I have myself once or twice. It would be good to hear their thoughts on this. The term is also used by some of the historians we all read. In some ways the idea is not that dissimilar to the current trend of referring to some overseas place names - those which have always had an English equivalent - by their local name, a trend which I find annoying, as it has always been clear (to me!) when we should and when we shouldn't. We don't refer to Nuremberg as Nurnberg (yet) nor Munich as Munchen (excuse missing umlauts) but if this trend continues we will. (The Mumbai/Chennai/Beijing syndrome is a separate thing altogether of course).

Robin, is it the case that ordinary English-speaking S Africans were beginning to use the term isiZulu, do you think, or is it still restricted to academic circles?

Peter
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Robin


Joined: 16 Jan 2007
Posts: 135
Location: Nottingham Road KZN RSA
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Peter
I have only really noticed it on this forum, thats why when i got my copy of Natalia i decided to comment on it.
I think that usage is probably prevalent when the speaker communicates freely in Zulu (eg KG)
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Robin/Peter

Thanks for the detailed explanations.

Obviously, I'm just learning what I can on an amateur basis, with anything outside of being able to identify written words and their variants, needing a more professional viewpoint, or someone more familiar with the Zulu language when spoken.

Thanks again

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Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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I would like to thank Robin for his quotation and Peter E. for his further explanation. They are both, I now see, quite correct. I am therefore suitably chastened since I have been guilty of this seeming misdemeanour. I have several books on the Zulu language, one of which is called Textbook of Zulu Grammar and another Handbook of isiZulu. Now I am totally confused and had better refrain from writing anything further on the subject!

KIS
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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
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A bit of a conundrum and one about which I've long since given up hope of seeing a consensus. We accuse our non-English speaking neighbor to the South, Mexico, of speaking "Spanish" while they claim to speak "Espanol" (sorry, can't do the tilda that makes the "n" into an entirely different letter-- one that we don't even have in our alphabet). And to them I live in "Los Estados Unidos" not "The United States". Perhaps if we "Norte Americanos" were to pronounce the name of their country properly, with the "x" as an "h", they wouldn't "translate" my countries name into their language? Never happen, so we all just deal with it...
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Julian whybra


Joined: 03 Sep 2005
Posts: 436
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When one speaks English, one uses English words (The Hague not Den Haag). Isn't that stating the obvious? Other people's political correctness does not concern the UK even if those other people also speak English.
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Alan
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Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 1418
Location: Wales
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As well as the English pronunciation, e.g. Pariss as opposed to Parree.

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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
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Perhaps what to do about it is not to do anything at all. When I hear "Parree" instead of the expected "Pariss". I still know that it's home to the Eyeful Tower (which I gather is more properly called the Earful Tower). Still, I wish that Welsh would at least give me enough familiar phonemes to corrupt. Wink
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Robin


Joined: 16 Jan 2007
Posts: 135
Location: Nottingham Road KZN RSA
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I think there is an attempt to replace the use of (isi)Zulu in "South African" English. It does not really matter which choice is made but as an English speaking South African i think it was pertinent to point out the correct usage.
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Paul Bryant-Quinn


Joined: 14 Oct 2007
Posts: 543
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While I usually treat most Wikipedia articles with extreme caution, it has a pertinent note which may be of interest -

The 'Zulu'/'isiZulu' debate

The Zulu language is referred to as 'isiZulu' in Zulu, 'isi-' being the gender (or noun class) prefix associated with languages. For example, isiNgisi = English, isiXhosa = Xhosa, isiBhunu = Afrikaans, isiJalimane = German, etc. Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that 'isi-' does not itself mean 'language'. Rather, the characteristic use of the 'isi-' noun class with languages can be compared to the use of the feminine gender in Romance languages to refer to fruits, while the masculine gender of the same word indicates the corresponding fruit tree. Hence, while in Spanish, manzana means 'apple', the masculine manzano means 'apple tree'. Thus the gender prefix 'isi-' in Zulu no more means 'language' than the gender suffix '-o' in Spanish means 'tree'.

Does anyone happen to know whether this is substantially correct, or is it yet another example of Wikibabble?
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Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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Paul

Wikipedia is correct in stating that the prefix isi- does not mean language. According to my handbook of isiZulu, the prefix is called a class prefix, of which there are seventeen. I have generally assumed (probably wrongly) that for nouns it indicates the definite or indefinite article. Class 15, uku- usually indicates an infinitive form of a verb.

Class prefixes often alter the meaning of nouns, thus: umuNtu (person), isiNtu (human race); uThi (stick), umuThi (tree). That is about as far as my limited knowledge extends but I hope it assists.

KIS
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It is said that people appreciate those from other countries attempting to speak the language of those living in the country being visited, but most might be put off from trying for fear of causing offence or being ridiculed.

Do the Zulu people like visitors speaking their language albeit on an amateur basis, or do they dislike their language being spoken, if spoken badly ?

I myself tend to get irritated when talking to someone who is speaking badly broken English.

Example - say I manage to say these words individually, not knowing the correct way to set them out, nor for that matter the right version of the word, but as I have written them. Would this short sentence be understood ?

Sawubona...igama...lami...ngu-Coll...ngiyalinga...ukuvuya...isiZulu...kodwa...ngifunda...kahle. Confused

Or does it just read as nonsense, as it is just made up from the Zulu dictionary, and would it be termed 'broken' Zulu ?

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P.S. Please don't tell me it says something bad ! Embarassed
Using "isiZulu" in English Discourse
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