Nguni languages facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Nguni
Geographic
distribution:
South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe
Linguistic classification: Niger–Congo
Subdivisions:
Zunda
Tekela

The Nguni languages are a group of Bantu languages spoken by the Nguni people. These languages are spoken in Southern Africa, mostly in South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. Nguni languages include Xhosa, Zulu, Swati, Hlubi, Phuthi and Ndebele (both Southern Ndebele and Northern Ndebele).

The name "Nguni" comes from the cow breed called Nguni cattle. The word Nguni is sometimes used to mean all speakers of Nguni languages as a group. This is an incorrect use of the word, since many different tribes speak these languages.

Language organization

Proportion (percent) of the population that speaks a Nguni language at home.          0–20%      20–40%      40–60%        60–80%      80–100% Density of people who speak Nguni languages at home.          <1 /km²      1–3 /km²      3–10 /km²      10–30 /km²      30–100 /km²        100–300 /km²      300–1000 /km²      1000–3000 /km²      >3000 /km²
Proportion (percent) of the population that speaks a Nguni language at home.

     0–20%      20–40%

     40–60%

     60–80%

     80–100%
Density of people who speak Nguni languages at home.

     <1 /km²      1–3 /km²      3–10 /km²      10–30 /km²

     30–100 /km²

     100–300 /km²      300–1000 /km²      1000–3000 /km²

     >3000 /km²

The Nguni languages are a sub-group of the Southern Bantu languages. These languages exist in a relatively small geographic area. The languages are closely related and sound very much alike. Many times the different languages are mutually intelligible -- that is, someone who speaks one Nguni language can understand someone speaking a different Nguni language.

Linguists and other researchers split the Nguni languages into two smaller groups: "Zunda Nguni" and "Tekela Nguni".

Zunda languages

Tekela languages

  • Swati (3 million)
  • Phuthi (20,000)
  • Bhaca, Hlubi, Cele and Lala.

Nguni languages Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.