It’s been a busy week so far – a 3500-word backtranslation and two sets of radio scripts for a retail chain, in between the usual paths of public holidays and normal weekdays teaching around Gauteng, landing without a sound at a creative and refreshing hour’s lesson with Mr Thursday in Yeoville (after a late night as a result of procrastination). And it’s taken me the better part of this thursday to come to terms with a towering isivivane of mail and tasks and to-do lists. So here I am, as WhiteZulu, wondering what to write.

I pull out the black journal and see if there’s anything there, but the notes for the two translation projects are putting me off a little for now (I’m not in the mood to be outraged at the disrespect shown to isiZulu by both of the other translations I encountered), so I page forward.

I see the headlines from Tuesday, some ticked where I tried to tweet them in a carefully AC’d seminar room above Rivonia looking East. It’s like sifting through driftwood, looking at these two pages. Decontextualised, I try to remember which umfundisi it was who was killed, and where.

And then I find a word worthy of a blog:

ingqalasizinda

{noun} {common animals noun class} {singular}

compound of ingqala & (i)sizinda [by analogy with ingayizivele]

ingqala: A first sight (i.e. thing seen for the first time); a first occasion; rare or surprising sight, action, or occurrence; something of surpassing beauty or excellence {derived from the verb ukuqala}

isizinda: 1. the remaining contents of a vessel; 2. Origin, essence of anything; 3. Ancestral kraal; 4. Chief woman of the ancestral kraal, or woman appointed to bear the heir to the kraalship; 5. Heir to ancestral kraalship; trustee for other members of family in the estate of his father. {derived from the verb ukuzinda}

And the modern meaning? You can only find it in Nyembezi (1992):

-qalásizinda (íngqalásizinda) bz

amalungiselelo enziwayo esizeni noma endaweni lapho kuzokwakhiwa khona okusondeza okuzoba yizidingo.

ingqalasizinda n.

preparations made on an isiza or a place where building will take place in order to bring closer by hurrying forward that which will be necessary

In other words, ‘infrastructure’.

And with that, I’m off to do some real work. If you know a little Latin, try working out the root of the word ‘infrastructure’.