Swati language


Swati language

Infobox Language
name=Swati
nativename=siSwati
states=flagicon|Swaziland Swaziland
flagicon|South Africa South Africa
flagicon|Lesotho Lesotho
flagicon|Mozambique Mozambique
speakers=1,706,924 (Ethnologue)
familycolor=Niger-Congo
fam2=Atlantic-Congo
fam3=Volta-Congo
fam4=Benue-Congo
fam5=Bantoid
fam6=Southern Bantoid
fam7=Narrow Bantu
fam8=Central
fam9=S group
fam10=Nguni (S.40)
nation=flagicon|Swaziland Swaziland
flagicon|South Africa South Africa
iso1=ss|iso2=ssw|iso3=ssw|notice=nonotice

Swati (siSwati in the language itself; isiSwazi in Zulu) 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 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 Lesotho and the northern Eastern Cape province 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 Cape provinces of South Africa).

Dialects

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 Nhlangano and 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 Mpumalanga province, 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.

Phonology

Grammar

Nouns

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 Bantu languages.

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.

Sample text

swati

External links

* [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]

Software

* [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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