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  • A Sotho question

    How do you say hello?

    Is it Dumela - like Tswana,
    or is it Lumela?

  • #2
    [quote]Zulu: "Sawubona mngani wami!"
    Xhosa: "Molo mhlobo wami!"
    Pedi: "Dumela mogwera!"
    Sotho: "Dumela motswale wa ka!"
    Swazi: "Sawubona mngani wami!"
    Tswana: "Agge tsale ya mi!"
    Venda: "Hu ita hani khonani yanga!"
    Tsonga/Shangaan: "Avhushani mgana wamena!"
    Ndebele: "Sawubona mngani wami!"
    Afrikaans: "Goeie dag my vriend!"
    English: "Hello my friend!"
    Source

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    • #3
      Aah, yes, Google is my friend too

      Why I ask, is because I found (and promptly bought) a little Sotho - English phrase book that I found while sifting through the foreing language section at a 2nd hand book store.

      This book was printed by the Morija Sesotho book depot in Morija, Lesotho, in 1971.

      So given that it was printed in Lesotho, it would be pretty weird that the very first entry in the book is wrong.

      It says:
      Lumela, ntate ........Good morning/evening, sir.

      Is it perhaps specific to the rising/setting of the sun, and everything inbetween that is Dumela? Is it maybe an archaic form that fell out of use by now?

      It's a great little book, by the way - you've never seen a more random collection of phrases!

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      • #4
        I once found an English / Xhosa dictionary that was written in the 1800's.

        The African languages were largely just spoken languages until more recently than you would expect. Certainly, the Dutch, English and apartheid governments did little to encourage literacy.

        Because the African languages were hardly written at all, the transliteration is a little iffy before writing conventions became established. (If you could call it transliteration - transliteration is the writing of Arabic/Chinese/Japanese/Greek/Russian words in English script, and I suppose the other way around too - dictionary.com would be my friend if I could be arsed.)

        I would be hesitant to call it an error, rather than an old convention. Who is the publisher? Is it a mom 'n pop shop? Was the author merely a man who was fluent in both languages and wrote a dictionary from knowing how to speak the languages?

        Another thing to bear in mind is that there is no "l" sound in most Bantu languages. I would say that "Rolihlahla" is an exception. I believe that it is in Sotho that an "L" is sounded like an Afrikaans "R". Or do I have this very muddled? Because now I'm thinking of Lukas Radebe, (Rad-eh-bee to the Leeds United fans, and Gha-dé-bé (as in Gaansbaai) to his Bafana Bafana fans).

        Of course I know that Rolihlahla is Xhosa and Radebe is not and Dumela/Lumela is quite another thing altogether!

        My 1800's Xhosa dictionary (called itself an Xosa dictionary, for instance) was littered with unconventional spelling and the most ghastly derrogatory tone. It was geared to the rich white person saying things like, "Boy! Get to work now!". It was quite awful.

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        • #5
          Wow, 1800s? That is an absolute gem!! I'm sure that even though it contains rather derogatory phrases, it is in a kind of xhosa that we do not hear rolling off the tongues of the native speakers today.

          I've got no idea if Bantu languages have the l sound or not. I only took Tswana in elementary school (my highschool didn't offer it) and I don't remember a whole lot of it. Pretty much just how to greet politely. Which, b.t.w, we weren't thaught how to do properly. My mom lives in Botswana, and when I visited her two years ago it was the first time that I heard that you have to say "dumela rra" for an older man, and "dumela mma" for an older women. I guess they didn't consider it very important in school that little afrikaans kids show the proper respect afford to Tswana elders. When I used Rra and Mma instead of just plain old Dumela in Botswana I was greeted with smiles everywhere. It was great!

          I got way off track here - let me gather my thoughts. Oh yeah, about the publisher. I imagine it was a mom and pop affair who printed it. I don't think that there were all that many established printing houses in Lesotho in the 70s. From the sentences, you can tell that this book is geared towards Basothos making themselves understood in english.

          Where did you find the Xhosa dictionary?

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          • #6
            I can't remember where I got it - it was nearly 10 years ago - but probably a CNA or something. It may have been WRITTEN in the 1800's, but it certainly wasn't published then. I have it in a box in my mom's cupboard, I'll probably unearth it in Feb.

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            • #7
              Liza81 Please research

              There is nothing wrong with Lumela it is the Lesotho version of South African Dumela.Another example is tsamaea and tsamaja,dijo and lijo, oena and wena etc

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              • #8
                thank you for the answer, Walenga. I'd have researched it if I was in SA, but there isn't a whole lot of info availble in the US about the regional variations in Sotho. Also, I didn't grow up in a Sotho speaking region, so I just didn't know.
                Thanks again, though!

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