Sunday, December 12, 2010


Ngoni Language - Scholars' Views

  • Sunday, December 12, 2010
  • Samuel Albert
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    Sources: Introductory Grammar of the Ngoni language by W. A. Elmslie, M. B., 1891. Ikatekisma la Hari... ngu W. A. Elmslie, 1890. Izindaba zombuso ka Mlungu, 1890.

    There are in South Africa several different tribes which go by the name of Ngoni. Those among which the Rev. W.A. Elmslie has passed several years live under the rule of Mombera, on the western side of Lake Nyassa. Their language must not be coupled with Bunga (p.xix of this work), but with Mfengu, Zulu, Xosa, and Tebele, in the Kafir cluster. In the sources mentioned above I have scarcely found more than two or three words which may not be heard among the Kafirs of Cape Colony and Natal.

    The demonstrative pronouns and a few other forms are the same as in Zulu, not as in Xosa (n. 124). A few grammatical forms are proper to Ngoni, or borrowed from the dialects of the Nyassa region. Thus the classifiers ci and vi replace si and zi of Kafir {ci and zi of Tonga); and the connective pronouns of the plural number in the 1st and 2nd person are ti "we" instead of the Kafir si; mu or li "you" instead of the Kafir ni. Consequently, the substantive pronoun mwena or lina "you" replaces nina. (See pp. 153 and 160). Were it not for these few differences, all good Zulu and Kafir (Xhosa, Zulu or Ndebele) books might be used among the Ngoni of Nyasaland.

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