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Language Ecology – The Plight of Our Languages


We have heard that one language is becoming extinct every fortnight.  It is said that of the 6,500 languages in the world, more than half are expected to die within the next century and many more are declining.  May God forbid that languages within Mthwakazi should be some of those languages that are becoming extinct. There are many ways that languages become extinct.  In some cases it has to do with some that become bilingual and begin to emphasize one language more than another. We have seen how we have shifted more to speaking English more than our own languages. This was prompted by the fact that we knew we could get more respect from others, or get a good job and so forth.  We have made ourselves believe that English is more prestigious than our languages.  Is that a true statement?   Another way  is through neglect or persecution. In our case we have found our languages being suppressed in so many different ways through conscious efforts.  Either in ensuring that we do not have qualified teachers in our schools to teach the language, or qualified radio commentators who speak the language fluently and eloquently, or a public declaration that other languages are more important than our own and coercing a particular group to speak a language that is not their own.   Abuse of any people’s language causes others to lose interest in learning that language.  Let us understand clearly the strategies that have been implemented to cause us to lose interest in speaking our God given languages.


As I mentioned, many languages are becoming extinct.  “Should we care?“ is the question we must ask ourselves.  Some have said to let someone’s language die out is to let part of their identify die too.  Is that a true fact?   Others have also said language is bound up in culture.  Hence if a nation loses a language, it may also lose its links with its traditions and culture.


Please allow me to challenge all of us to do whatever is necessary to ensure our languages are preserved at all cost.  Let us not fall for the lie that it is more prestigious to speak English than our respective languages.  Some of us fell for that lie for way too long and it is time to correct it.  Yes we need to know how to speak English in order to engage in our daily activities, however that should not take away the pride we must continue to have in our languages.  


To those of you that are starting to forget how to speak isiNdebele, or may have never learnt how to speak the language, or you may want to teach your children how to speak our language, we have a few tools that Ntando Nkala Sarr has put together to assist you with this exercise. Please access the links below to see some videos that she has compiled and many more.   We have a rich language and let us make every effort to ensure NOBODY causes us to despise it or to forget it.



Count Up To Ten In Ndebele:




YEBO lo CHA – [ Speak NDebele Yes No Teaser]




Learn Ndebele / Zulu : YEBO lo CHA [ Yes & No ] – Part 2



Learn NDebele/Zulu – UKUDLA – FOOD – INYAMA – MEAT [ Episode



Learn Ndebele / Zulu :- AMALANGA EVIKI [ Days of the Week ]




Learn Ndebele / Zulu: Ndebele Alphabet Part 2





Learn Ndebele / Zulu – IMIBALA [ Colours ] Part 1




Learn Ndebele / Zulu – IMIBALA [ Colours ] Part 2




I do realize that within Mthwakazi there are many other languages that are spoken and they are:  the original Zulu; Swazi; Khalanga; Venda; Xhosa; Shangani; Sotho; Nambya; Nanzwa; Tonga; and generally all other ethnic groups not specifically mentioned here found in what is today the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces and who mainly speak isiNdebele as the main language.  If you know of any tools that we can share with all that can be used to learn these other languages, please do pass on the information.



About Thoko Mkwanazi

Following God's purpose for my life. I want to make a difference in my generation by injecting something positive and being a light in a dark place


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