20. There is no article in Zulu ; but the definiteness or indefiniteness of a noun must be gathered from the context.

21. Every Zulu noun consists of two parts the root and the inflex, the latter being a small particle, which is set before the root, forming with the complete noun.

Ex.          u-Mpande, Panda; aba-ntu, people; in-dlu, house; imi-thi, trees.

22. We give the name of inflex to this initial particle, because by changes of it certain modifications of the noun are effected, as they are in Latin and Greek by means of terminal particles or inflexes set after the root.

Thus in the Latin word homo, ‘man,’ the root is hom, and the inflex o, which is changed to ines for the plural, and the whole word becomes homines, ‘men’; just as in the Zulu word umuntu, ‘person,’ the root is ntu, and the inflex umu, which is changed to aba for the plural, and the whole word becomes abantu, ‘people.’

23. In the Zulu there are eight singular nominative inflexes, six of which have plural forms; and thus we shall have eight different classes of nouns, of which two have no plural.

24. A portion of each inflex, which may be considered its characteristic portion, is used as a personal pronoun of the third person, to represent any noun of the class in question.

25. The following are the eight Classes of Zulu Nouns

Class Sing. Inflex Pers. Pro. Examples Plur. Inflex Pers. Pro. Examples
I umu, um, u u umuntu, person umfazi, wife uMpande, Panda aba o Ba ba abantu abafazi oMpande
II Ili, contr. i li izwi, word ibuto, soldier ama a amazwi amabuto
III im, in, i i imvu, sheep indlu, house iyobo, rejected lover izim, izin, izi zi izimvu izindlu iziyobo
IV isi si isilo, leopard izi zi izilo
V umu, um, u u umuthi, tree umhla, day unyaka, year imi i Imithi Imihla iminyaka
VI ulu, contr. u lu ubambo, rib uthi, stick, rod ulwanga, palate Izim, izin, izi zi Izimbambo Izinti izilwanga
VII ubu, contr. u bu Ubukhosi, royalty utshani, grass      
VIII uku ku ukukhanya, light      


26. When any inflex, ending in a vowel, is prefixed to a root which begins with a vowel, the terminal vowel of the inflex is dropped, except in the case of uku, when it is usually changed to the semivowel w.

Ex.          isandla, hand, ukwenza, doing, for isi-andla, uku-enza.

Before o, however, the final u of uku is often dropped:

Ex.          ukwona or ukona, injury, sin.


27.Nouns of Class I are almost all personal nouns, and those of Classes V and VI are generally impersonal. But we find umhlobo, friend, plur. imihlobo, and some other personal nouns, belonging to Class VI.

28. Names of persons invariably take the inflex u, plur. o, which latter, as well as aba, is represented by the personal pronoun ba.

Ex.          uNkulunkulu, uMvelinqangi, names for the Deity; uMpande, uNgoza, uZatshuke, names of chiefs.

But izibongo, that is, names given to people in praise or sport, may be formed with other prefixes.

Ex. uBisi (or uLubisi) Iwembongolo, Mule’s-milk, plur. oLubisi.

29. The plural of proper names of persons is often used (i) for a single person, a pluralis excellentice, (ii) to express a person and the people who are with him.

Ex.          oSomtseu ka’Sonzica, Somtseu (Sir T. Shepstone) son of Sonzica.

oZatshuke, the Zatshukes=Zatshuke and his people.

oTshaka, Chaka; oDingane, Dingaan; oMpande, Panda; oCetshwayo, Cetshwayo.

oNgoza bamukile, the Ngozas (=Ngoza and his party) they have departed.

So abayeni, the bridegroom (umyeni) and his party.

30. Certain other nouns, which have the force of proper names, take the inflex u, plural o or ao.

Ex.          ubaba, my or our father, plur. obaba or aobaba.

umame, my or our mother, plur. omame or aomame.

uyihlo, thy or your father; unyoko, thy or your mother.

uyise, his, her, or their father; unina,.his, her, or. their mother.

udade, sister, umkhulu, grandparent, &c.

In forming compound names, yise and nina are contracted into so and no.

Ex.          uSojuba, uNozimpisi.

N.B. — The following are also names of relationship.

ubaba, my or our father’s sister;

ubabakazi or ubabekazi my or our father’s brother;

uyihlo, thy or your father’s sister;

uyihlokazi, thy or your father’s brother;

uyise, his, her, or their father’s sister;

uyisekazi, his, her, or their father’s brother;

umalume, my or our mother’s brother;

umamekazi, my or our mother’s sister;

unyokolume, thy or your mother’s brother;

unyokokazi, thy or your mother’s sister;

uninalume, his, her, or their mother’s brother;

uninakazi, his, her, or their mother’s sister.

Instead of ubaba for ‘father’s sister’ may be used the full expression, udade wobaba.

So, too, umkhulu may be used for grandfather or grandmother on father’s or mother’s side, whether my, thy, or his; but sometimes, especially by the amaLala, ubabamkulu is used for ‘my or our grandmother,’ &c.

If the son of one man marries the daughter of another, the two fathers will call each other umlingane; the husband will call the girl’s father ‘father ‘ (ubaba) or ‘father-in-law’ (umukhwe), and the girl’s mother ‘ mother-in-law ‘ (umkhwekazi) . A ‘ brother-in-law ‘ or ‘sister- in-law ‘ is umlamu, plur. abalamu; a ‘ wife’s brother’ is umkhwenya, a ‘ son-in-law,’ umkhwenyana.

The children of one father are called izelamane, which word, though generally used of the boys only, may be employed for boys and girls collectively.

The children of one father and mother are called aba’ ndlu’nye or aba’ndlini’nye, i.e., ‘children of, or in, one house’ ; and the offspring of one father and mother, so long as they intermarry with each other, are still reckoned as aba’ndlu’ nye. One who marries out ot the family becomes by that act separated, umuntu wesizwe,  ‘a man of the tribes’ or stranger ‘ ; and two persons, who are ‘strangers’ to each other, will not eat the amasi, ‘ sour-milk,’ which comes from each other’s kraal

31. The names of many birds, insects, trees and plants form their singular in u, plur. O.

Ex.          ujojo, long-tailed finch; umiyane, mosquito; umalibombo, name of a plant.

So also do a few words of foreign origin.

Ex.          umpondwe, a pound; ushelene, a shilling; upeni, three-pence; umbaimbai, a connon; umese, a knife; usaoti, salt; ugwai, tobacco snuff; ukolweni, wheat.

32. Nouns not of Class I may be formed into Proper Names, with inflex u, plur. o.

Ex.          beka phezulu! kus’emi osilimela abadala, kus’emi ondosa abadala, kus’emi ompandu abadala, look above! there still stands the old Pleiades (isilimela), there still stands the old Jupiter (indosa), there still stands the old August (umpandu).

33.The full form, umu, in Classes I and V, may be employed or not, at pleasure, but occurs chiefly before mono-syllabic roots.

Ex.          umuntu or umntu, person; umuhla or umhla, day.

34. Names of countries are usually of Class II, like izwe, land.

Ex.          iBotwe, Natal; iEngland, iJudia.

35. National names are either of Class I, or, more commonly of Class II.

N.B. umlungu, white-man, plur. abalungu or abelungu; but isilungu =the whole of the white population.

Ex. umSuthu, plur. abaSuthu or abeSuthu ; uMthethwa, uMbo.

iZulu, iSwazi, iMpondo, iXhosa, plur. amaZulu, amaSwazi, amaMpondo, amaXhosa.

So iNgisi, an Englishman, iBunu, a Dutch Boer.

36. But the singular noun, uZulu, Class I, is used to express, collectively, the whole people of the Zulus, the plural form amaZulu denoting only a number of Zulus.

So umSwazi, Class I, expresses the people of the amaSwazi, and uSuthu, Class V, the people of the abaSuthu or Basuto.

uSutu is also the name of that portion of the Zulu people which belongs to Cetshwayo ; but the locative case (65) is, for the former, oSutu, for the latter, oSutwini.

In such cases the people are called collectively by the name of a present or former famous chief.

37. The inflexes, ili of Class II and ulu of Class VI, are very frequently contracted into i and u respectively, and the i or u is then pronounced long, as if a double i or u.

Ex. idada, duck; utango, hedge; ihashi, horse; udaka, mud, mortar.

So zibuko, Class II, a ford or drift; but izibuko. Class IV, windows or a pair of spectacles.

38. Some few nouns, not of Class II in the singular, form, their plurals in ama.

Ex.          indoda, husband, amadoda; indodana, son, amadodana. insimu, garden, amasimu; inkosi, chief, amakhosi.

Sometimes, however, when the form in ama would leave the meaning’ doubtful, that in izin is employed, and vice versa.

Ex.          yazibiza izinkosi zamakulu, he them called, the chiefs of hundreds, for yawabiza amakhosi amakulu, which might be understood to mean, he them called, the great chiefs.

hlanganisa izinkomo ez’amaduna, collect the cattle which are males, for hlanganisa izinkomo ezi’zinduna, where the last word might be mistaken for ezezinduna, belonging to the indunas.

Some nouns of Class II make the plural in ama or in izin.

Ex.          ikambi, plur. amakambi or izinkambi, refuse, such as the pith of imfe.

N.B. So usuku a day. Class VI, makes its plural both izinsuku and amasuku; and intombi, girl, makes its plural izintombi, while intombazana, young girl, makes its plural amantombazana. But iso (for iliso), eye, makes its plural amehlo, as if from another singular.

39. Some nouns, especially of Class II, are only used in the plural. 

Ex.          amandla, power, strength.          amanzi, water. 

amasi, sour milk.                              amafuta, fat, butter, ointment.

amalahle, charcoal.                         amakhaza, cold.

amatumbu, intestines                   amathe, spittle

amabomu, purpose, intention, amabibi, weeds, rubbish.

40. In Class III, im is used before either a vowel or a labial (b, p, m, f, c), in in all other cases; and so with izim and izin.

Ex. imbuzi, goat; impisi, hyaena; imfuyo, treasure; imvu, sheep.

This rule holds for the plural prefixes in Class VI, except that izi is always used before a root beginning with h or l.

Ex.          upape, feather, plur. izimpape ; uzipo, claw, plur. izinzipo. uhududu, old worn-out blanket, plur. izihududu. ulimi, or ulwimi, tongue, plur. izilimi, or izilwimi.

41. The plural inflexes, izim, izin, izi, frequently drop the z, and so are contracted to im, in, i, where the i must be pronounced long, as if ii.

Ex.          ezo’nto, those things, for ezo into, and that for lezo izinto.

ikati zonke, all times, for izikati.

igcagogwana, slander, for izigcagogwana.

ifamona zabantu, spiteful jealousies of people, for izifamona.

ngaithatha ikali zami, I them took, my weapons, for ngazithatha izikali zami.

inkomo nenkabi, cattle and oxen, for izinkomo nezinkabi.

onondongoyi laba inyosi enkulu; kanti bay’ahlulwa yilezi

encinyane, these drones are large bees ; however, they are mastered by these small ones, for izinyosi, ezinkulu, ezincinyane.

So often in forming proper names.

Ex.          uNoitshada, uNoinsaba, for uNozitshada, uNozinsaba.

In like manner isi is sometimes contracted before s into i.

Ex.          isando for isisando, name of a plant.

And imi in some words is also heard as i.

Ex.          imbali, flowers, for imimbali, Class V, which has no singular.

42. Some nouns of Class IV begin with isi or isa, some with isa only.

Ex.          isingcokolo or isangcokolo, grub in mealie stalks.

isinkuntshane or isankuntshane, name of a plant.

isandla, hand; isando, hammer.

43. The same roots may appear with different inflexes and a corresponding difference in meaning.

Ex. umkiwane, fig-tree; ikiwane, fig.

izwe (ilizwe), land; isizwe, tribe, nation.

into, thing; uto, something, anything.

umuthi, tree, herb, medicine; uthi (uluthi), stick, rod; ubuti, poison.

ibele, female breast, cow’s udder; amabele, Kafir-corn; isibele, man’s nipple; umbele, woman’s nipple, cow’s teat; ububele, tenderness.

umuntu, person; abantu, people; isintu, human race; uluntu, outer covering of the bowels; ubuntu, human nature.

But sometimes the same root is found with different inflexes and the same meaning.

Ex. umqulo or uqulo (uluqulo), stitch in the side.

idlelo or isidlelo, snuff-box; but idlelo means also cattle-run.

umlozi, plur. omlozi or imilozi, familiar spirit.

intuma, intungwa, indoni, names of trees, but also umtuma, umtungwa, umdoni.

uqondo or ingqondo, palmetto fibre.

N.B. In the last example, the root appears as gqondo or ngqondo. And so an m or n is often heard before the root in other instances.

Ex. isipofu, poor man, ubupofu, poverty, but also ubumpofu.

ijuba, dove, ubujuba or ubunjuba, dove-nature.

imvu, sheep, ubumvu, sheep-nature; inja, dog, ubunja, dog-nature.

umgoma, witch-doctor, but also ubungoma.

umbungu, foetus of calf, plur. imbungu, for imimbunju (41).

Such words as imvu, inja, might. in fact. be written immvu, innja,

or imvu, inja, with inflex i, plur. izi.

So from zifisa, pretend to die, is formed umzifisi, plur. omzifisi.

from zigaxa, intrude one’s self, imzigaxi, plur. omzigaxi.

from khanya, shine, comes ubunkanyezi, brightness,

from songa, wind, insongensonge or properly innsongensonge, winding.

44. Nouns of Class I are derived from verbs, by changing the final a of the verb-root into i, and prefixing the inflex um; and such nouns express the agents of the verb’s action.

Ex.          From funda, learn, is formed umfundi, learner, disciple.

fundisa, make to learn, umfundisi, teacher.

The above words, however, and most of the above kind which appear in the printed books, are formed by Missionaries, not by the Natives, who employ these derivatives much more sparingly, but may form them at pleasure, so that they cannot lie entered in dictionaries as standard Zulu words.

Ex.          umondli (from ondla) wezinkedama zabantu, nourisher of the orphans of the people, an isibongo of Mpande.

isisu somhambi (from hamba) asingakanani, a traveller’s (stomach = ) appetite is not very large.

But some of words belong to the language.

Ex.          umfi, a deceased person, hence umtaka’mufi, child of a deceased man, fatherless orphan.

umfiki, more properly isifiki, a new-comer, fresh arrival.

45. Names of trees are mostly of Class V.

Ex. umkombe, yellow-wood, umtulwa. wild-medlar. Umkiwane, wild-

fig, umtuma, wild-apple, umdoni. water-boem, umtungulu, Natal plum, umtunduluka, tree bearing a red acid plum, the juice of which is used in dyeing.

Their fruits are mostly of Class II or Class III.

Ex.          itulwa, ikiwane, ituma (fruit of large umtuma). intuma (fruit of small untuma). indoni. itungulu, itunduluka; but ukova(Class VI. no plur.), banana (plant and fruit).

So indumba, species of bean. but umdumba, whole pod.

Plates where things grow, or persons in the habit of doing what is indicated by the root, are of CIass IV.

Ex. inkoba. forest of yellow-wood; : izikova, banana grove; isidhlubu, place for under-ground nuts; isimbila, mealie ground; isihlaza, sweet potato garden; isidumbi, place where Kafir potatoes grow, whence Esidumbeni, name of a district where such plants abound; isikohlwa, forgetful person; isilauli, habitual jester.

46. Nouns of Class VII are derived from nouns and adjectives by prefixing the inflex ubu to the root, and they express the abstract idea corresponding to the meaning of the root.

Ex. From inkosi, chief, is formed ubukhosi, chieftainship.

khulu, great, ubukhulu, greatness.

47. Nouns of Class VIII are nearly all verbal substantives being, in fact, identical in form with the infinitives of verbs, and expressing the action of the corresponding verb.

Ex.          From khanya, shine, is formed ukukhanya, light.

thanda, love, ukuthanda, love.

azi, know, ukwazi, knowledge.

ng’azi, not know ukung’azi, ignorance.

N.B. ukwindla, autumn, is not a verbal noun.

48. A noun is made feminine by the addition of kazi.

Ex.          inkosi, chief, king; inkosikazi, female chief, queen;

inkomo, bullock; inkomokazi or inkomazi, cow.

N.B. Inkomo is the generic name of a bullock of any kind, while inkunzi denotes a ‘bull,’ inkabi an ‘ox,’ inkomazi a ‘cow.’

The last three words may also be used to distinguish the corresponding kinds of first-class animals, as of a horse.

Ex.          leli’hashi liy’inkunzi, liy’inkabi, liy’ inkomazi, this horse is a

stallion, is a gelding, is a mare.

Or the possessive particle (72) may be used with the above words.

Ex.          ihashi lenkunzi or inkunzi yehashi, a stallion, ihashi lenkabi, a gelding, ihashi lenkomazi, a mare.

N.B. The corresponding words for sheep, whose generic name is imvu, are inqama, ram, umtondolo, wether, imvukazi, ewe, and those for goat, whose generic name is imbuzi, are impongo, umtondolo, imbuzikazi.

49. Some singular nouns are nouns of multitude, that is, are used for one or many, e.g., the names for small plants when plentiful, or for particular classes of oxen.

Ex.          ugagane, small mimosa; umsasane, another sort of mimosa.

ukova, banana (plant or plants or fruit).

umdlunkulu, girl or girls of the (great house) chief knial.

Kwatatwa umdhlunkulu wambili, there were taken two girls of the chief kraal.

nant’ ukungwane lulubili, there are two winged ants.

nant’ukuni, there is firewood.

umqeku wamashumi’mane, forty one-year-old heifers.

50. Male and female of persons may be defined by using the possessive particle witli the words isilisa and isifazana.

Ex.          umntwana wesilisa, a male child; abantwana besifazana, female children.

izinceku zendlu ezesilisa nezesifazana, servants of the house, male and female.

Male and female of animals are defined by using the possessive particle with the words induna and insikazi and their plurals.

Ex. ihashi lenduna, a male horse; amahashi ezinsikati, female horses.

induna yennja, yekati, yengulube, yenkuku, or innja yenduna, &c.,

a male dog, cat, pig, fowl.

51. Sometimes the termination kazi is added to a noun, in order to magnify or intensify its meaning. It may bo added to the adjective joined to a noun, as well as to the noun itself.

Ex.          umfazikazi omkulukazi, a great, distinguished woman.

itshekazi, great stone; umuthikazi, great shrub; umntwanakazi, fine girl.

intombikazi endekazi, fine tall (intombi=) marriageable girl.

niyabona lo’mzikazi omkulukazi, you see this huge town.

le’nnjakazi yami yensikazi, this great bitch of mine.

But kazi sometimes is used to express dislike.

Ex. nangu lo’muntukazi ol’ivila futhi, here is that fellow who is idle too.

Or a noun is intensified by the repetition of the root.

Ex.          wake lapha iminyakanyaka, he has lived here many ywirs.

bakhona ba’ndwendwendwendwe , uzolubona okulu, they are there, they being a prodigious troop, you will see it a great one — from udwendwe (43 N.B.)

52. Dimunitive are formed by adding to the noun or adjective the termination ana or anyana. the final vowel of the root being elided before the amx, or, in the case of o or u, being changed to w.

Ex.          umntu, person; umntwana, child.

imvu, sheep ; imvana or imvwana, lamb.

isilo, wild animal; isilwana. small wild animal; isilwanyana, insect.

induku enhlana, a handsome little staff.

ukudla, food; ukudlana, a little food.

kusihlwa, evening; kusihlwana, nearly evening.

ngezinsukwana, in a few days; amaswana, a few word.

In the diminutive, I is often changed to y before ana.

Ex.          umfula omkhulu, a great river; umfuyana omkuyana, a little brook.

ihele, a file of men; iheyana, a small file of men.

If it is desired to make a distinction of sex, ana is used for the masculine diminutive, and azana or kazana for the feminine.

Ex.          inkosi, chief; inkosana, petty chief; inkosazana, princess, young lady (the Zulus would call the Queen inkosazana.)

intombi, girl; intombazana, young girl.

innja yensikazana, a puppy bitch.

abafazazana abafutshanyana, little short women.

53. If the last consonant of the noun be b, p, or m, it geverally undergoes a change before the diminutive termination; thus b is changed to j or tsh, p to tsh, m to ny, mb to nj, mp to ntsh.

Ex.          intaba, hill, mountain, makes diminutive intatshana

ingubo, blanket, ….. ingutshana

kufupi, near, ….. kufutshane

inkomo, bullock, ….. inkonyana

intambo, cord, ….. intanjana

kumhlotshana, it is white, but small, from mhlophe

54, The following are other instances of diminutives not included under the foregoing rules.

Ex.          isilonda, sore, isilonjana.

kude, far off, kujana.

Iqata, slice, iqatshana.

ningi, many, ningana, rather many.

izilwane, animals, izilwanyana, small animals, izilwanyakazane, gnats.

zikhona izintatshana ezincinyane zimbiyana, there are little hills there, they are rather bad, from izintaba, zimbi.

utuli, dust, utulana or utuyana.

N.B. uLutuli or uNtulikazi, is the name of the month when there is much wind or dust (April-May), uLutudlana, of the month when there is little dust (March- April.)

uto, something, utwana or utshwana, a little something.

So isixuku’tshwanyana, a very little crowd (isixuku and utshwanyana.)

utokazi Iwemmamba, a huge thing of an immamba.

dindi or dindikazi, dead, dull, stupid.

inkomana yakhe, or umqolokazana wakhe, his few cattle, used for a single head, from inkomo, umqolokazi.

pakatshana kakulwana, a tolerably good way in, from phakathi, within, and kakhulu, greatly.

indwele or indwelemana or indwelemanakazana , very clever little fellow.

iqolakazi, large ox with white on rump, iqolazana, small cow with white on rump.

umhlophekazi, large white ox, umhlotshazana, small white cow.

N.B. The last nouns make the plural imihlopekazi, imihlotshazana,

though the root is mhlope, white : see (43, N.B.)

55. The particle ndini is added to nouns, and expresses a slight feeling of pity, as follows.

Ex. mina, ndodandini! here, my good man!

wo! mfazindini! alas! good woman!

mina, shingandini! bazakukukolisa, (mind) me, you rascal ! they will lay it into you.

56. The women have a singular practice of avoiding the utterance of any word which occurs in the name of the principal members of their husband’s family, whether male or female, and, indeed, in the name of any of the males above the age of mere boys.

Ex. If the names uSandhla, uNkomo, uSomahashi, uNjakasana, should happen to occur in the family, the woman would not use the words isandhla, inkomo, ihashi, inja, for ‘hand,’ ‘ bullock,” ‘horse,’ ‘dog,’ respectively, but would adopt, or invent at her own pleasure, some; other words in place of them ; e.g., she might use isamkelo for ‘ hand,’ ininga for ‘ cow,’ imetye, for ‘horse,’ intshumpa for ‘dog’.

Further, she must not call the men of her husband’s family by their birth-names (i.e., the names given them by their parents), but by the names which they have assumed or had given to them by their companions of the same age (intanga), when they become izinsizwa, ‘young men.’

This causes some perplexity at times, when white people are bargaining with native women.

Ex. Thus a woman may say that she has umtamusa in her sack, when she means umbila, ‘ mealies.’

In such cases she is said ukuzila, ‘ to abstain from,’ or ukuhlonipha, ‘ to treat with modesty or reserve,’ the word in question.

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