Nguni languages

The Nguni languages are a group of Bantu languages spoken in southern Africa by the Nguni peoples. Nguni languages include Xhosa, Zulu, Ndebele, Swati, Hlubi, Phuthi, Bhaca, Lala, Nhlangwini, Southern Transvaal Ndebele, and Sumayela Ndebele. The appellation "Nguni" derives from the Nguni cattle type. Ngoni is an older, or a shifted, variant.
It is sometimes argued that use of Nguni as a generic label suggests a historical monolithic unity of the peoples in question, where in fact the situation may have been more complex. The linguistic use of the label is relatively stable.


Within a subset of Southern Bantu, the label "Nguni" is used both genetically and typologically.
The Nguni languages are closely related, and in many instances different languages are mutually intelligible; in this way, Nguni languages might better be construed as a dialect continuum than as a cluster of separate languages. On more than one occasion, proposals have been put forward to create a unified Nguni language.
In scholarly literature on southern African languages, the linguistic classificatory category "Nguni" is traditionally considered to subsume two subgroups: "Zunda Nguni" and "Tekela Nguni." This division is based principally on the salient phonological distinction between corresponding coronal consonants: Zunda and Tekela , but there is a host of additional linguistic variables that enables a relatively straightforward division into these two substreams of Nguni.

Zunda languages

Maho also lists S401 Old Mfengu†


The following aspects of Nguni languages are typical:
Compare the following sentences:
English"I like your new sticks"
ZuluNgi-ya-zi-thanda izi-nduku z-akho ezin-tsha
XhosaNdi-ya-zi-thanda ii-ntonga z-akho ezin-tsha
Northern NdebeleNgi-ya-zi-thanda i-ntonga z-akho ezin-tsha
Southern NdebeleNgi-ya-zi-thanda iin-ntonga z-akho ezi-tjha
BhacaNdi-ya-ti-thsandza ii-ntfonga t-akho etin-tsha
HlubiNg'ya-zi-thanda iin-duku z-akho ezintsha
SwaziNgi-ya-ti-tsandza ti-ntfonga t-akho letin-sha
Mpapa PhuthiGi-ya-ti-tshadza ti-tfoga t-akho leti-tjha
Sigxodo PhuthiGi-ya-ti-tshadza ti-tshoga t-akho leti-tjha

Note: Xhosa = Phuthi = IPA ; Phuthi = ; Zulu = IPA, but in the environment cited here is "nasally permuted" to. Phuthi = breathy voiced = Xhosa, Zulu . Zulu, Swazi, Hlubi =.
English"I understand only a little English"
ZuluNgisi-zwa ka-ncane isi-Ngisi
XhosaNdisi-qonda ka-ncinci nje isi-Ngesi
Northern NdebeleNgisi-zwisisa ka-ncane isiKhiwa
Southern NdebeleNgisi-zwisisa ka-ncani nje isi-Ngisi
HlubiNg'si-visisisa ka-ncani nje isi-Ngisi
SwaziNgisiva ka-ncane nje si-Ngisi
Mpapa PhuthiGisi-visisa ka-nci të-jhë Si-kguwa
Sigxodo PhuthiGisi-visisa ka-ncinci të-jhë Si-kguwa

Note: Phuthi = IPA.