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Swati / Swazi
SiSwati
Spoken in Swaziland Swaziland
South Africa South Africa
Lesotho Lesotho
Mozambique Mozambique
Total speakers 3,000,000 (Ethnologue)
Language family Niger-Congo
Official status
Official language in Swaziland Swaziland
South Africa South Africa
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 ss
ISO 639-2 ssw
ISO 639-3 ssw
Geographical distribution of siSwati in South Africa: proportion of the population that speaks siSwati at home.
     0–20%      20–40%      40–60%      60–80%      80–100%      No population
Geographical distribution of siSwati in South Africa: density of siSwati home-language speakers.
     <1 /km²      1–3 /km²      3–10 /km²      10–30 /km²      30–100 /km²      100–300 /km²      300–1000 /km²      1000–3000 /km²      >3000 /km²

The Swati or Swazi language (Swati: siSwati, Zulu: isiSwazi) is a Bantu language of the Nguni group spoken in Swaziland and South Africa. The number of speakers is estimated to be in the region of 3 million. The language is taught in Swaziland and some South African schools in Mpumalanga and KaNgwane areas. Swati is an official language of Swaziland, (along with English), and is also one of the eleven official languages of South Africa.

Although the preferred term is Swati among native speakers, it is often referred to as Swazi: this is taken from the Zulu name for the language, isiSwazi. Swati is most closely related to the other "Tugela" Nguni language, Phuthi; but is also very close to the "Zunda" Nguni languages: Zulu, Southern Ndebele, Northern Ndebele, and Xhosa.

Contents

Dialects

SiSwati spoken in Swaziland / eSwatini can be divided into four dialects corresponding to the four administrative regions of the country: Hhohho, Lubombo, Manzini, and Shiselweni.

SiSwati has at least two varieties: the standard, prestige variety spoken mainly in the north, centre and southwest of the country, and a less prestigious variety spoken elsewhere.

In the far south, especially in towns such as Nhlangano and Hlathikhulu, the variety of the language spoken is significantly influenced by iSiZulu. Many Swazis (eMaSwati|plural LiSwati|singular), including those in the south who speak this variety, do not regard it as 'proper' SiSwati. This is what may be referred to as the second dialect in the country. The sizeable number of SiSwati-speakers in South Africa (mainly in the Mpumalanga province, and in Soweto) are considered by Swaziland SiSwati-speakers to speak a non-standard form of the language.

Unlike the variant in the south of Swaziland, the Mpumalanga variety appears to be less influenced by Zulu, and is thus considered closer to standard SiSwati. However, this Mpumalanga variety is distinguishable by distinct intonation, and perhaps distinct tone patterns. Intonation patterns (and informal perceptions of 'stress') in Mpumalanga SiSwati are often considered discordant to the LiSwati ear. This South African variety of SiSwati is considered to exhibit influence from other South African languages spoken in close proximity to SiSwati.

A feature of the standard prestige variety of SiSwati (spoken in the north and centre of Swaziland) is the royal style of slow, heavily stressed enunciation, which is anecdotally claimed to have a 'mellifluous' feel to its hearers.

Phonology

Grammar

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Nouns

The Swati noun (libito) consists of two essential parts, the prefix (sicalo) and the stem (umsuka). Using the prefixes, nouns can be grouped into noun classes, which are numbered consecutively, to ease comparison with other Bantu languages.

The following table gives an overview of SiSwati noun classes, arranged according to singular-plural pairs.

Class Singular Plural
1/2 um(u)-1 ba-, be-
1a/2b Ø- bo-
3/4 um(u)-1 imi-
5/6 li- ema-
7/8 s(i)-2 t(i)-2
9/10 iN-3 tiN-3
11/10 lu-, lw-
14 bu-, b-, tj-
15 ku-

1 umu- replaces um- before monosyllabic stems, e. g. umuntfu (person).

2 s- and t- replace si- and ti- respectively before stems beginning with a vowel, e.g. sandla/tandla (hand/hands).

3 The placeholder N in the prefixes iN- and tiN- for m, n or no letter at all.

Sample text

Bonkhe bantfu batalwa bakhululekile balingana ngalokufananako ngesitfunti nangemalungelo. Baphiwe ingcondvo nekucondza kanye nanembeza ngakoke bafanele batiphatse nekutsi baphatse nalabanye ngemoya webuzalwane.[1]

References

  1. ^ Omniglot.com

External links

Swati language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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