- Swati language
Swati (siSwati in the language itself; isiSwazi in Zulu) is a Bantu language of the
Ngunigroup spoken in Swazilandand South Africa. The number of speakers is estimated to be in the region of 1.5 million. The language is taught in Swaziland and some South African schools. Swati is an official language of Swaziland, (along with English), and is also one of the eleven official languages of South Africa.
Although often referred to as "Swazi", this is the form of the noun stem indicating the language or its speakers taken from Zulu, which many Swati-speakers also speak. Swati is most closely related to
Phuthi(the other larger 'Tekela' Nguni language), spoken in southern Lesothoand the northern Eastern Capeprovince of South Africa. Swati is also closely related to the 'Zunda' Nguni languages: Zulu (immediately adjacent to the south and east), Ndebele (immediately adjacent to the west, and further north in Zimbabwe), and Xhosa (spoken to the south of Lesotho in the Eastern and Western Capeprovinces of South Africa).
siSwati spoken in Swaziland 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
Nhlanganoand Hlathikhulu, the variety of the language spoken is significantly influenced by Zulu. Many Swazis, including those in the south who speak this variety, do not regard it as 'proper' Swati. This is what may be referred to as the second dialect in the country. The sizeable number of Swati-speakers in South Africa (mainly in the Mpumalangaprovince, and in Soweto) are considered by Swaziland Swati-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 Swati are often considered discordant to the Swati 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.
The Swati noun (" _ss. libito") consists of two essential parts, the prefix (" _ss. sicalo") and the stem (" _ss. umsuka"). Using the prefixes, nouns can be grouped into noun classes, which are numbered consecutively, to ease comparison with other
The following table gives an overview of Swati noun class, arranged according to singular-plural pairs.
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.
* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=ssw Ethnologue on Swati]
* [http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definition/Swazi-english/ Swazi - English Dictionary]
* [http://www.panafril10n.org/wikidoc/pmwiki.php/PanAfrLoc/Swazi PanAfrican L10n page on Swazi]
* [http://www.wakahina.co.za/ Tinanatelo ne Tibongo tema Swati]
* [http://translate.org.za/ Project to translate Free Software into Swati]
* [http://translate.org.za/content/view/17/32/ Swati edition of OpenOffice.org]
* [http://translate.org.za/content/view/1610/54/ Swati spell checker for OpenOffice.org and Mozilla (basic)]
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