Language

Updated: December 4, 2015

 

The Kalanga language, called TjiKalanga or Ikalanga by its speakers, is spoken by about 500,000 people in southwestern Zimbabwe, 150,000 people in northeastern Botswana, and a smaller number in the diaspora. Dialects include:  Lilima (Botswana), Nyai, and Kalanga of the Plumtree area.  (Map)

Kalanga is a Bantu language, most closely related to Nambya in northwestern Zimbabwe and the Shona languages in central and eastern Zimbabwe.  Kalanga shares about 75% of its core vocabulary with literary Standard Shona. The language is under great social pressure from Tswana in Botswana and Ndebele in Zimbabwe and often borrows words from those languages, as well as from English.

EXTRACT FROM Ntando Dumani’s play titled ‘MIHODZI YEBUN’WA’

Ndima Yekutanga

Nhanga yekutanga

Laka loyetata mituzi hhuba latjipola, Gaabadzo wakabe eligele pekwe njinga iye ntome kwezila muntuzi wenswin’wa. Wake akalembedza homo yepulastiki panyanga hule akagadzika saka lebgwisa ebva kunokhwisa kutjigayo. Pehhugwi waka akambala baki tjitjena tjaka tjibonakala kuti hayi, makole aba manji. Bhurugwe waka akambala lebhokhadi laka litjidzwa nyana alitengegwa nabasekulu babe buya kwabo gole lakapela. Kumakumbo waka akambala hangu dzaka dzatjihakala `nyana zwimwe zwinyala zwinda zwilezwa banopinda, hhinyala gulu lelumehwe ilo lihako batobela. Wake etafuna nyonje yetjikhuwa isingapele yabanoti tjingama. N’hhuhha ihwoyu wakabe ehwelela  ehohhela kunzi waka ulimuminda kulayidza kuti wakateya. Etjaka teya wakabona nhu ehha enga wakasitila nemiti nyana esedzela. Wakahaya kuti angine poni ekumbula kuti pamwe ihazwadzi dzenjiba yaakateya. Nemhahha kwaka kuli Bhilima, dendelesi lentunhu lisina pakatambunuka palinogala, lisina hama kene bana koga banhu belida zwalo lilinhu wamwali nlanda mbuya.

Gaabadzo:       Mabuyani.

Bhilima:           Ehh, Gaa tabuya mbisana banomuka bamwe kunzi?

Gaabadzo:       Banomuka zwabo hhuba koga lapisa mhani zwipfuwo zwawhila nenyota.

Bhilima:           Eya n’hhuhha kopalusa moyo, ehhh, Kuna njelanyana yakasala mumbizi yahhulo kanyi kwenyu?  Kana kene kulibhililma ton’wa zwedu iswi boBhilima (epulula ndebvana esekelela).

Gaabadzo:       Ahh anditoziba (ehonongela pekwelukuta elingila njiba iye).

Bhilima:          (Etebela Gaabadzo nemeho esekelela) Ehhh ndoziba. Batjengedzi atenti, ……ndiye wawakatumbila ipapa ungati iwhunda yakabhakhwa nentumbgwana hahahahaha! (Ejitisa whi etjebukatjebuka) Iwha ke ndikubudze mbisana wangu, BakaTjenge ya, zwilebeleki zwikati bana mhele inazwitimbi. Tsheduka Gaa, nowotanhisiwa bo iyo. Halanga dzikati mhungubgwe njendu njendu inobuya nensungo wetjibgwa matuni mbisana wangu.

Gaabadzo:       BoSungwaha bo balume ke ya ayi! Wati ndiye wandakalinda ipapa ndiyani? Ndonyaluluka zwangu muntuzi ipapa imi, ahh! Njela yamabe mubhuzwa iyapo kunzi swikani ko bo taZwibombo besanhu bapinda kwakawoma.

Bhilima:           Ehh koga itjo Tjenge tjakatopoka iwe andingakuse nlandu kene watogwa moyo. Koga wawha tjandaleba hatenti? Ehh, ndati mhele inazwitimbi! Bakulukugwi bekati mhele mbi ndeyasenga n’ombe, yakasenga nhu babvumilana! Ndoleba ndipedza, ndoyi Bhilima busukwa gwabhikwa nephile gunokona banhutana gukan’wiwa nabokakambe kwaaa sekazo nkololo wefunye. (Edusa ntolo uwe kulimwe pfudzi ewusa kulimwe). Iti nditongoti nyabgwi mbisana wangu. (Engina zila enda emba) Ndiwe yani haa kurunjanja kurunja, ndimi luwhobo haa kurunjanja kurunja, wakasengani haa kurunjanja kurunja, hanga nenjiba mhhhh mhhhhh mhhh mhhh…

Nhanga yebubili

Gaabadzo wakasala elinga Bhilima edza enositila hule kwemiti eseka edzungudza n’holo. Wakati etjimile ipapo kabona hazwadzi yaBatjengedzi ibhuda idana mbgwa ihha nezila ya ali muyili kabona kuti ekama ipapo kusingabonakale tja anoyeta ingabe yalonga nhozo muhamilo. Wakadusa meya mubhasikili kakolisendeka pa bhato lenti ebe etangisa fulila gumbgwana lambeli nepompi. Yakahha hazwadzi iye ikama ipapo sebanhu baka bezibana.

Hazwadzi yaBatjengedzi: Gaa kotini mwanawayi, watshamba hhula kani wofulila ujen’wi balume.

Gaabadzo:       Ahh anditon’on’ola ndotjila zwangu, makumbo malelu hawa atjinditila ngayaya mani ene igo bgwisa gohakika wale saku latewuka lajali, Ndati ndipinda koga pasi pelukuta gwenzi wenyu ahh whayi libe liti nonyepa Nkololo waBango.

Hazwadzi yaBatjengedzi:   Ahh akuna tjakayipa mwana watate iti ndikutjidze, Ndagala ndimuzila yehangamidza bayisana kumakula akaTjibelu kuti ndibone kene abazolaha kana abana zebe bayisana bakhona, n’hingo wuzana mabgwatilana muzwitombgwana belaha n’ombe.

Gaabadzo:      Musimanikane nkulu ndoofulila.

Hazwadzi yaBatjengedzi:   Usihle msanangu (ejalo etola pompi kuna Gaa efulila liguta).

Bakabva babhatisana zila kubva kwakona kuti angata etini Gaa.

 

 

 

Basic Vocabulary in TjiKalanga

Some basic phrases

Good morning. How are you?  — Dumilani. Mamuka tjini?
I am fine thanks  —  Tamuka totibathu
What is your name?  — Zina lilo/labo/lenyu ndiani?
Who are you? —  Ndi ingwi ani?
I do not know Kalanga well —  Anditoziba tjikalanga zwibuyanana
I come from ….   — Ndodwa ku … 
It was nice meeting you   —  Ndoshatha kushangana na’ngwi
How much is this thing? — Kuthu ikoku kodana bungana?
Thank you — Ndaboka
It is very hot — Kopisa kwazo

Some fun words:

  • nyemudza — tantalise by offering something and then refuse to give it
  • shanyula — get half done, as when threshing corn or stamping corn in a mortar

Kalanga has the standard features of Bantu languages:

  • Typical word order is:  SUBJECT – VERB – OBJECT.
  • Nouns belong to one of many noun classes and have a relevant class prefix in the singular and plural.
  • Verbs have a subject marker (related to the noun class of the subject), followed by various tense and mood markers, the root, various verb extensions, and a final vowel.
  • All syllables end with a vowel. Syllables can have either a low or a high tone, which can change the meaning of the word or phrase.  For example: símba “lion” (high tone + low tone)  ~  simba “strength” (low tone + low tone ).

Examples:

Bana     ba-no-zomol-an-a.
children   SUBJECTMARKER-PRESENT-pinch-RECIPROCAL-FINALVOWEL
“The children are pinching each other.”

Nzhuzha     u-no-shaka      ku-zan-a    na-we.
young man  SM-PRESENT-want-FV   INFIN-dance/play-FV   with-you
“The young man wants to dance with you.”

BoNeo      a-ba-zo-n-sek-a.
Neo+    NEG-SM-PRESENT-OBJ-laugh-FV
“Neo and others   did not laugh at him.”

Several elementary books for children are available from the Mukani Action Campaign in Francistown (some based on the primers of the earlier 20th century).  A new textbook series for Zimbabwean schools, prepared by the Kalanga Language and Culture Development Association is scheduled to appear in early 2013.

The only full grammar of Kalanga is the admirable Kalanga: Summary grammar by A. M. Chebanne & Daniel Schmidt (published in 2010 by CASAS).

Online resources:

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