SOAS University of London

Virtual Zulu

Lesson 2 : Present Tense

Aims Of This Lesson

Communication :

More greetings and how to greet several people

Grammar :

The Positive Present Tense
(with -ya- for incomplete actions and without -ya-) and the Negative Present Tense

Pronunciation :

Lateral fricative -dl- versus -hl-
Aspirated and unaspirated ph- and p-
Click sound -c-

  • Dialogue 1

    The second most common greeting is illustrated below. Thandi and Thoko are on their way to the class at Wits.
     

    Thandi : Sawubona Thoko.

    Thoko : Yebo, sawubona.

    Thandi : Usaphila na?

    Thoko : Yebo, ngisaphila, wena usaphila na?

    Thandi : Nami ngisaphila.

    Thoko : Hamba kahle.

    Thandi : Sala kahle.

    Audio

    Download

    Dialogue 1 (pdf; 314kb)  

  • Dialogue 2

    Note how the greetings from Dialogue 1 change when used when addressing more than one person.
     

    Thoko and Thandi: Sanibona bangane bethu

    Sipho and Sne: Yebo, sanibona

    Thoko and Thandi: Nisaphila na?

    Sipho and Sne: Yebo, sisaphila, nina nisaphila na?

    Thoko and Thandi: Nathi sisaphila

    Sipho and Sne: Hambani kahle

    Thoko and Thandi: Salani kahle

    Audio

    Vocabulary

    Zulu English
    Sanibona greeting used in the plural (you)
    Bangane friends
    Bethu our
    Nisaphila na how are you (plural)
    Yebo, sisaphila yes, we are well (fine – plural)
    Nina nisaphila na? how are you?
    Nathi sisaphila we are also well
    Hambani kahle go well
    Salani kahle stay well

    Download

    Dialogue 2 (pdf; 444kb)  

  • Pronunciation And Spelling

    The ph (aspirated) in ‘phila’ is pronounced like ‘p’ in English
     

    dl – hl: The lateral fricative dl is a voiced, while hl is voiceless and pronounced like the double ‘ll’ in Welsh. For both the dl and the hl the tongue is positioned the same place and by using your voice, you will say dl and without using your voice hl.
     

    The click -c-: To pronounce this sound, one has to place the tip of your tongue against your upper front teeth and gum and lower the centre of your tongue. Release the tip of the tongue pulling it slightly to the back.

    -ch- is aspirated like in cha ‘no’
    -nc- is nasalised like in nceda ‘help’

  • Grammar: The Present Tense

    In the above example the present tense is used through out.

    Umama uyapheka. The ‘-ya-’ indicates that the action is incomplete and is ONLY used when nothing follows the verb.

    The underlined ‘-a-’ of ‘pheka’ (to cook) is the positive verb ending.

    In the second sentence you will notice that a word ‘ukudla’ follows the verb and therefor the ‘-ya-‘ is dropped. REMEMBER when something follows the verb, NO ‘-ya-‘ is used. 

    In the sentence ‘Asithandi…’ there is a change to the negative and this is indicated by adding the ‘-a-‘ at the beginning and with the verb ENDING on ‘-i-’ instead of ‘-a-’.

    Personal pronouns in the positive and negative

    Singular Plural
      Positive Negative Positive Negative
    1 st person Mina ngi mina angi Thina si- thina asi
    2 nd person Wena u wena a w u Nina ni nina ani
    3 rd peson Yena u yena aka Bona ba bona aba

    One of the most salient features of all Bantu languages is the use of the noun classes. Zulu has no less than 15 such noun classes, each with its own distinctive class prefix. One of the main functions of these prefixes is to distinguish between singular and plural, in which case the prefix indicates either singular or plural. This is why in most cases the classee prefixes usually operate in pairs, one being the singular and the other the plural prefix.

    Class Class Prefix Suject Concord Noun
    1 um-*umu- u- umngane / umuntu
    2 aba- ba- abangane / abantu
    3 um- *umu- u- umshini / umuthi
    4 imi- i- imithi
    5 i(li)- i- ikati
    6 ama- a- amakati
    7 isi- si- isikhathi
    8 izi- zi- izikhathi
    9 i(n)- **i(m)- i- inja / imbuzi
    10 izin- izim zi- izinja / izimbuzi
    11 ***u(lu)- lu- uthi / ufuba
    14 ubu- bu- ubuntu
    15 uku- ku- ukudla

    *in front of mono syllabic nouns
    **some nouns in class 9 take their plural in class 6, e.g. inkosi is amakhosi in the plural
    ***class 11 takes class 10 for the plurals (izinti (uthi) izimfuba (ufuba)

    NOTE:

    1. awu-‘ (negative for 2nd person): The rule about vowels being split by insertion a consonant (‘glide’) and in this case a ‘-w-‘ (‘u’ takes ‘w’).
    2. ayi-‘ (negative for class 9): Again here is the same rule about vowels and in the case of ‘-i’ it will be the glide ‘-y-‘.

  • Lesson 2 Downloads

    Note how the greetings from Dialogue 1 change when used when addressing more than one person.
     

    Thoko and Thandi: Sanibona bangane bethu

    Sipho and Sne: Yebo, sanibona

    Thoko and Thandi: Nisaphila na?

    Sipho and Sne: Yebo, sisaphila, nina nisaphila na?

    Thoko and Thandi: Nathi sisaphila

    Sipho and Sne: Hambani kahle

    Thoko and Thandi: Salani kahle

    Vocabulary

    Zulu English
    Sanibona greeting used in the plural (you)
    Bangane friends
    Bethu our
    Nisaphila na how are you (plural)
    Yebo, sisaphila yes, we are well (fine – plural)
    Nina nisaphila na? how are you?
    Nathi sisaphila we are also well
    Hambani kahle go well
    Salani kahle stay well

    Download

    Dialogue 2 (pdf; 444kb)