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Zulu phrasebook

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Zulu phrasebook

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Zulu is the language of the Zulu people, the majority of them living in South Africa.

Pronunciation guide


Zulu vowels are very similar to those found in english. However, Zulu is a tonal language, so the meaning of some words depends on whether you use a high or low pitch. For instance, "Unjani?" with a high tone on the u means "how are you?" whereas a low thone on the u means "How are they?"


t like the t in "tea"

k somewhere between a K and a G in English

kh this is a digraph; it is pronounced like a hard k in english, like k in "kick". Not pronounced like "ch" in the Scottish "loch"

h like English h

hh A digraph. this is a voiced h, like "ch" in the Scottish "loch", but softer.

y Like the English y

b Like the English b

Click Consonants

Zulu has three click consonants, represented by c, q, and x in written Zulu.

c click your tongue off the back of your teeth, like a disapproving "tch"

q sounds like the click made to summon a horse; click the side of your tongue off your molars, on either or oth sides of your mouth

x the Hardest click. Should sound somewhat like a cork being popped from a bottle. put your tongue on the edge of your hard palate, and pullif of sharply. Will take some practise.

Common diphthongs

Phrase list



"Hello" to one person


"Hello" to a group of people


"How are you?" (singular 'you')


"How are you?" (plural 'you')

Ungubani igama lakho?

"What's your name?"

Igama lami ngingu_____

"My name is _____"


"Can you help me?"


"How much (does it cost)?"


"What's the time?"


"Where are you from?"

Uyasikhuluma isiNgisi?

"Do you speak English?"


"Thank you"

Sala kahle / Hamba kahle

"Stay well / Go well" (used as 'goodbye')


Police Amapoyisa

Where is the Police Station?

Ikuphi iPolice Station?

I will call the Police.

Ngizobiza amaPoyisa


zero- iqanda (q is click, put your tongue on the bottom of your jaw)
one- kunye
two- kubili
three- kuthathu
four- kune
five- isihlanu
six- isithupha
eight- isishiyagalombili
nine- isishiyagalolunye
ten- ishumi
eleven- ishumi nanye
twelve- ishumi nambili
thirteen-ishumi nantathu
fourteen- ishumi nane
fifteen- ishumi nesihlanu
sixteen- ishumi nesithupha
seventeen- ishumi nesikhombisa
eighteen- ishumi nesishiyagalombili
nineteen- ishumi nesishiyagalolunye
twenty- amashumi amabili
twenty-one amashumi amabili nanye
twenty-two amashumi amabili nambili
twenty-three amashumi amabili nantathu
twenty-four amashumi amabili nane
twenty-five- amashumi amabili nesihlanu
twenty-six amashumi amabili nesithupha
twenty-seven- amashumi amabili nesikhombisa
twenty-eight amashumi amabili nesishiyagalombili
twenty-nine- amashumi amabili nesishiyagalolunye
thirty- amashumi amathathu
forty- amashumi amane
fifty- amashumi amahlanu
sixty- amashumi ayisithupha
seventy- amashumi ayisikhombisa
eighty- amashumi ayisishiyagalombili
ninety- amashumi ayisishiyagalolunye
hundred- ikhulu
hundred and one- ikhulu nanye
hundred and two ikhulu nambili
two hundred- amakhulu amabili
three hundred- amakhulu amathathu
four hundred- amakhulu amane
five hundred- amakhulu amahlanu
six hundred- amakhulu ayisithupha
seven hundred- amakhulu ayisikhombisa
eight hundred- amakhulu ayisishiyagalombili
nine hundred- amakhulu ayisishiyagalolunye
thousand- inkulungwane
two thousand- izinkulungwane ezimbili
three thousand- izinkulungwane ezintathu
four thousand- izinkulungwane ezine
five thousand- izinkulungwane ezinhlanu
six thousand- izinkulungwane eziyisithupha
seven thousand- izinkulungwane eziyisikhombisa
eight thousand- izinkulungwane eziyisishiyagalombili
nine thousand- izinkulungwane eziyisishiyagalolunye
ten thousand- izinkulungwane eziyishumi
eleven thousand- izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezinanye
twelve thousand- izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezimbili
thirteen thousand- izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezintathu
fourteen thousand- izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezine
fifteen thousand- izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezinhlanu
sixteen thousand- izinkulungwane eziyishumi eziyisithupha
seventeen thousand- izinkulungwane eziyishumi eziyisikhombisa
eighteen thousand- izinkulungwane eziyishumi eziyisishiyagalombili
nineteen thousand- izinkulungwane eziyishumi eziyisishiyagalolunye
twenty thousand- izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamabili
thirty thousand- izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamathathu
forty thousand- izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamane
fifty thousand- izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamahlanu
sixty thousand- izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamathupha
seventy thousand- izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamakhombisa
eighty thousand- izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamaisishiyagalombili
ninety thousand- izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamaisishiyagalolunye
hundred thousand- izinkulungwane eziyikhulu
two hundred thousand- izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamabili
three hundred thousand- izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamathathu
four hundred thousand- izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamane
five hundred thousand- izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamahlanu
six hundred thousand- izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamathupha
seven hundred thousand- izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamakhombisa
eight hundred thousand izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamaisishiyagalombili
nine hundred thousand- izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamaisishiyagalolunye
million- isigidi


Clock time



Monday- uMsombuluko Tuesday- uLwesibili Wednesday- uLwesithathu Thursday- uLwesine Friday- uLwesihlanu Saturday- uMgqibelo Sunday- iSonto


Writing time and date


Blue - luhlaza okwesibhakabhaka orange- i-orenji purple- iPhephuli green- luhlaza gray- mpunga brown-nsundu black- mnyama white- mhlophe


car- imoto(amamoto, plural) bus- ibhasi(amabhasi) ship-umkhumbhi, (imikhumbhi) plane- indiza/ibhanoyi(izindiza, amabhanoyi) motorcycle- ithukathuka(amathukathuka) train- isitimela(izitimela)

Bus and train

   (ibhasi)  (isitimela) 










iphoyisa (amaphoyisa) police

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