Getting Acquainted With South African Languages

Ujuzi expanded its safaris to South Africa  earlier this year. The country offers countless unique opportunities, including malaria-free land safaris, amazing aquatic safaris, and sea turtle tracking and observation.

South Africa has many vibrant cultures, and its list of official languages reflects that. The 11 languages include:

  • Two European languages—English and Afrikaans
  • Nine African languages—Xhosa, Zulu, Venda, Tsonga, Swati, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho and Tswana

Thankfully, you don’t have to learn all of these languages when you’re planning to travel to South Africa. Most South Africans speak more than one language, so knowing one or two of the languages will help you get by in a majority of situations. If you want to learn a South African language in addition to English and aren’t sure where to start, keep this in mind: Zulu is the most common first language for South Africans, with almost a quarter of the population learning to speak it from their parents.

The University of South Africa offers a fun website for learning about Zulu and several South African cultures and languages. The lessons don’t just teach you important words and phrases, but also how to use them. For example, the Zulu section explains that you should never greet someone with only “Sawubona!” (“Hello!”), but also ask how they and their family are doing (“Unjani?”).

Explore the website for a bit and have fun learning about South African languages!


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