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Learning Basic Swahili

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Anonymous's picture
Learning Basic Swahili

Several members think it would be a good idea to learn some basic Swahili. Especially the names of all the wildlife we see here at Nkorho.
Could we please start a thread?

Anonymous's picture

You can learn some of the ethnic names for animals via the Wildlifecampus Game Ranger course - - for example:

English: White rhino; Black rhino
German: Breitmaul-nashorn; Spitzmaul-nashorn
French: Rhinoceros blanc; Rhinoceros Noir
Afrikaans: Wit Renoster; Swart Renoster
Zulu: Nkombe; Ubejane
Swahili: Kifaru; Kifaru

English: Cape Buffalo / African buffalo / Black buffalo
German: Afrikanischer Buffel
French: Buffle d' Afrique
Afrikaans: Buffel
Zulu: Nyathi
Swahili : Nyari

Ingwe's picture
Joined: Mar 14 2006

Thanks Landi - I thought of you too after I had posted! Laughing out loud

I should change my name to "Skankanka" :shock:

Anonymous's picture

The African language used most commonly in the area around Nkorho is Shangaan/Tsonga.

At many game lodges in the area the rangers use the indigenous names for the animals when talking to each other over the radio so that their guests don't understand what they are talking about to avoid creating unrealistic expectations. They dont always use the Tsonga names though and may use Zulu or other names.

Here are a few examples (excuse the spelling):

Lion - Ngala (Tsonga) / Ngonyam (Zulu) - often shortened to Gonnies by rangers / Simba (Swahili)
Leopard - Yingwe (Tsonga) / Ingwe (Zulu) / Chui (Swahili)
Cheetah - Xankanka (Tsonga) - pronounced "Skankanka"
Hyena - Mhisi (Tsonga) / Mpisi (Zulu) / Fisi (Swahili)
Elephant - Ndlopfu (Tsonga) / Ndlovu (Zulu) / Dovu or Tembo (Swahili)
Buffalo - Nyarri (Tsonga) / Nyathi (Zulu and Swahili)
White Rhino - Nkombe (Zulu)
Black Rhino - Ubejane (Zulu)
Hippo - Mfubu (Tsonga) / Mvubu (Zulu)
Giraffe - Umhlameet (Tsonga with my terrible spelling)
Impala - Mala (Tsonga)
Waterbuck - Phiva (Tsonga) - pronounced "Peevah"
Kudu - Tshabalala (Zulu & possibly Tsonga)
Wildebeest - Nkonkoni (Zulu & possibly Tsonga)
Vervet Monkey - Nkau (Zulu & possibly Tsonga)
Baboon - Umfene (Zulu & possibly Tsonga)
Bird - Nyoni (Zulu), though bird species each have their own names.

I am certainly no linguist so dont hold me to these names or their spelling.

I have included a few Swahili names, but these are not used at all in South Africa.


Ingwe's picture
Joined: Mar 14 2006

Hey Owls,

No problem. If Swahili is what you want to learn that's great .... but it isn't spoken in South Africa (where the waterhole is). There are eleven official languages spoken in SA and I found this link which breaks up where the different languages are

Official Languages of Southern Africa

The Waterhole is situated in the pale blue area at the NE of the map. It says Sepedi on this link but I'm not sure about that - Karin is probably the best person to ask what the local language is as well as Afrikaans and English.

We could ask her if you would like us to ........


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