Send an article  |  Print   |  ../file-system/small/pdf   |   RSS   |  


Zulu language, a Bantu language spoken by more than nine million people mainly in South Africa, especially in the Zululand area of KwaZulu/Natal province. The Zulu language is a member of the Southeastern, or Nguni, subgroup of the Bantu group of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family. Other Southeastern Bantu languages are Xhosa, Swati (Swazi), Sotho, Tswana, Venda, and Ndebele. The Zulu and Xhosa languages are similar enough to be considered dialects of one language, but speakers of Zulu and Xhosa consider them to be separate languages.


Zulu has borrowed many words from other languages, especially Afrikaans and English. Its sound system contains three types of click sounds probably borrowed from speakers of Khoisan languages. Most Zulu words end in a vowel.


Table of Contents



The term Bantu can be used to refer to the Bantu language family as well as to the shared Bantu culture. In recent decades, however, the term has increasingly been used as a means of linguistic classification. The Bantu people are thought to have originated in modern-day Cameroon and Nigeria. It is believed that they migrated southward in one of the largest human migrations in history from circa 2000 BC to 1000 CE.


The Bantu people soon divided into two language groups: Eastern and Western. The Zulu people are one of many tribal groups that descended from the Bantu people and came to develop their own language and culture. Today the term “Zulu” can refer to both Zulu-language speakers and to people of native Zulu origin.


In the 20th century, a number of works related to Zulu history and culture appeared. Some notable examples include Magema kaMagwaza Fuze’s 1922 work “Abantu Abamnyama Lapha Bavela Ngakhona” (“Where the Black People Came From”), and Petros Lamula’s 1936 work “Isabelo sikaZulu” (“Zulu Heritage”).


Modern Zulu Literature

A significant body of more modern Zulu literature has focused on celebrating and preserving Zulu cultural heritage, notably Zulu oral traditions. Compilations of oral traditions from the time include F.L.A Ntuli’s 1939 work “Izinganekwane nezindaba ezindala” (“Oral Narratives and Ancient Traditions”) and Nyembezi’s 1958 collection of Zulu heroic poems in “Izibongo zamakhosi” (“Heroic Poems of the Chiefs”).


Modern Zulu language literature is certainly not limited to Zulu-specific themes. Zulu literature today includes fiction, poetry and drama. A number of Zulu language newspapers, magazines, radio programs and television stations also exist.


Regulatory body

Pan South African Language Board


Zulu language on websites

Zulu language on websites available is LESS THAN 0.1% in terms of percentage.


Number of speakers

This language has about 9 million speakers in the world.





Correct us and Correct yourself
Top of page