Zulu (isiZulu)

Zulu is a Southern Bantu language spoken by about 27.7 million people, mainly in South Africa. In South Africa there are about 11.6 million native speakers of Zulu, and another 15.7 million people speak it as a second language. It is spoken mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, and also in Mpumalanga, Free State, Gauteng and Eastern Cape provinces. There are also about 328,000 Zulu speakers in Lesotho, 108,000 in Eswatini, 37,500 in Malawi, 4,600 in Botswana and 3,000 in Mozambique.

Zulu at a glance

  • Native name: isiZulu
  • Language family: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern Bantoid, Bantu, Southern Bantu, Nguni, Zunda
  • Number of speakers: c. 27.7 million
  • Spoken in: South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique
  • First written: 1837
  • Writing systems: Latin alphabet
  • Status: official language in South Africa

Zulu is one of the national languages of South Africa, and a statutory provincial language in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. It taught in schools, and used since the 1980s on television, radio and in newspapers. The first full-length feature film in Zulu was released in 2005.

Written Zulu

During the early 19th century Christian missionaries, including J W Colenso, S B Stone, H Callaway and Lewis Grant devised a way to write Zulu. The first Zulu Christian booklet Incwadi Yokuqala Yabafundayo was written by Newton Adams, George Newton and Aldin Grout between 1837-8 and explained the spelling of Zulu words and the history of the Old Testament. The first Zulu version of the Bible was produced between 1845-1883, and the first Zulu grammar book was publish in 1850 by the Norwegian missionary Hans Schreuder. The first novel in Zulu, Insila kaShaka, was published by John Dube in 1930

Zulu alphabet and pronunciation

Zulu alphabet and pronunciation

Download an alphabet chart for Zulu (Excel)

Corrections to Zulu pronunciation by Michael Peter Füstumum

Sample text in Zulu

Bonke abantu bazalwa bekhululekile belingana ngesithunzi nangamalungelo. Bahlanganiswe wumcabango nangunembeza futhi kufanele baphathane ngomoya wobunye.

A recording of this text by Cynthia Nozwelo


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample videos in Zulu

See more videos like this on Wikitongues

Information about Zulu | Phrases | Numbers | Family Words | Tongue twisters | Tower of Babel | Songs | Zulu courses on: Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk [affilate links]


Information about the Zulu language

Zulu language lessons

Zulu phrases

Recordings of Zulu sounds

Online Zulu dictionaries

Bantu languages

Bangi, Basaa, Bemba, Bena, Benga, Bhaca, Bukusu, Bulu, Central Teke, Chichewa, Chokwe, Chuwabu, Comorian, Digo, Duala, Eton, Ewondo, Fang, Ganda/Luganda, Gogo, Gusii, Gwere, Haya, Herero, Ikizu, Jita, Kamba, Kiga, Kikuyu, Kimbundu, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Kisi, Kongo, Konjo, Koti, Kukuya, Kunda, Kuria, Lambya, Lingala, Loma, Lozi, Luba-Katanga, Luchazi, Lunda, Luvale, Makaa, Makonde, Makhuwa, Mandekan, Maore, Masaaba, Mbunda, Mende, Mongo, Mushungulu, Mwani, Nande, Nkore, North Teke, Northern Ndebele (South Africa), Northern Ndebele (Zimbabwe), Northern Sotho, Nyamwezi, Nyakyusa, Nyemba, Nyole, Nyungwe, Nzadi, Oroko, OshiWambo, Pagibete, Punu, Ronga, Sena, Sengele, Shona, Soga, Songe, Southern Ndebele, Southern Sotho, Sukuma, Swahili, Swati, Tanga, Tembo, Tonga, Tshiluba, Tsonga, Tswa, Tswana, Tumbuka, Umbundu, Venda, Xhosa, Yao, Yasa, Zigula, Zinza, Zulu

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 17.11.22


Green Web Hosting - Kualo

Why not share this page:


The Fastest Way to Learn Korean with KoreanClass101

If you like this site and find it useful, you can support it by making a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or by contributing in other ways. Omniglot is how I make my living.


Note: all links on this site to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.fr are affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you click on any of them and buy something. So by clicking on these links you can help to support this site.

Get a 30-day Free Trial of Amazon Prime (UK)