Inkarhi waku dyondza yin’we yati ndzimu ta la Afrika Dzonga
“It’s time to learn one of the eleven official languages of South Africa”
I’ve always been a firm believer in trying to learn a couple of phrases of a country’s language before visiting it. Although I say this, I have often began to learn a few new words and then ended up feeling too overwhelmed and eventually given up. It’s due to this feeling that I have kept it to only a few, achievable phrases for you to learn in this blog post. It’s a wonderful feeling being able to greet and thank people in their own language; it can make a big impact on the people you interact with and allow you to immerse yourself further into the local culture.
I encourage you to take a stab at this fascinating local language here at Londolozi. During your stay you’ll hear snippets of Shangaan (a dialect of Tsonga), but be ready; I’ve found that it’s not the easiest language to learn. You’ll first notice that there are whistling sounds that you might never have been exposed to before, but don’t let this dishearten you, you will be warmly received at Londolozi with every Shangaan word you attempt.
I have been at Londolozi for a year now, and I am continuously encouraged to speak Shangaan with many willing helpers. The Shangaan culture is a friendly one, and the local people are always happy to help one improve.
To help you prep for your next Londolozi trip and to encourage my Shangaan practice a little more, Varty Camp Manager, Cry Sithole, helped me with a few phrases…
1. Starting with the Basics…
Good morning : Avuxeni Pronounced “avoo-sheni”
Good afternoon : Indzenga Pronounced “In-zen-ga”
How are you?: Kunjani? Pronounced “koon-jani?”
I’m fine thanks: Ndikona Pronounced “ndee-core-na”
2. The most important…
Thank you: Inkomu Pronounced “In-kor-moo”
Thank you very much: Inkomu Swinene Pronounced “In-kor-moo shen-neh-neh”
The “Sw” in “Swinene” is one of the unique Shangaan whistles, so the “shen” phonetic description isn’t entirely accurate. This is one which you’ll need some help pronouncing when you arrive here.
3. Telling your butler about your game drive…
I saw a leopard: Ndivone yingwe Said “In-dee-von-neh yee-een-gweh”
I saw a lion: Ndivone ngala Said “In-dee-von-neh in-gala”
I saw an elephant: Ndivone ndlopfu Said “In-dee-von-neh in-dlaw-pfoo”
4. You’ll find you eat a lot at Londolozi, so this phrase is a useful one…
This meal was delicious: Swakudya swakunandzika Said “Swa-kooja swa-koo-nan-zika”
5. This phrase is just for fun, but it’s almost guaranteed you’ll want to use it…
These monkeys are naughty: Nkawu leyi ya bayize Pronounced “In-cow-oo buy-yeez-eh”
Londolozi offers a Village Walk whereby visitors are able to see a model of a traditional Shangaan village guided by Linah Lamula. Linah’s interpretation of culture and Shangaan history is fascinating and something one must experience while visiting Londolozi.
It’s almost time to surprise your Tracker, Butler, Camp Manager and many other’s with a couple Shangaan words and phrases. Good luck!
Read more about the Shangaan history here.
*After chatting to a few other Shangaan speakers it was made clear to me that meanings may vary, and so the above is a flow of conversation which made sense to me in English translation.