I’ve already written about the inhliziyo, here, but while I was doing that (and while I was teaching yesterday) I rediscovered a set of 12 relatives derived from the the root word. If you know what a ‘relative’ is in isiZulu linguistics, skip to the list. Otherwise, stay tuned.

A relative is one of four ways that a noun can be described ngesiZulu. The other three are Adjectives (which most of you should recognise), Enumeratives and Possessives. For now, let’s just focus on the first two – Adjectives and Relatives. An adjective is a word with qualifies a noun (hence in isiZulu these four things are called Qualificatives). There are only about 18 true adjectives ngesiZulu – qualities such as: big (-khulu), small (-ncane), tall or long (-de), short (-fushane or -fuphi), good (-hle), bad (-bi), young (-sha) and old (-dala); and quantities such as: some or other (-nye), two (-bili), three (-thathu), four (-ne), five (-hlanu), many (-ningi) and how many (-ngaki). As you can see, they have dashes before them – this means that they do not exist as words on their own, but only when they are brought into agreement with a noun by using that noun’s adjectival concord.

Almost all other description in isiZulu is achieved using the Relative, including all of the colours (more on these in a later post). Verbs, copulatives and Relative stems (halfway to becoming Adjectives) can all act as a relative. Relatives are descriptive things made from other parts of speech.

The following are relatives derived from a combination of the word for ‘heart’, inhliziyo, and other descriptive elements:

-nhliziyobomvu: ‘red-hearted’ = bad-tempered, angry

-nhliziyohluthu: ‘heart-snappy’ = quick-tempered

-nhlizyombi: ‘bad-hearted’ = evil-hearted

-nhliziyombili: ‘double-hearted’ = unreliable, undecided, double-minded

-nhlizyomfushane: ‘short-hearted’ = short-tempered, impatient

-nhliziyomhlophe: ‘white-hearted’ = calm, peaceful, unruffled, pure-hearted

-nhliziyomnyama: ‘black-hearted’ = lacking in appetite, gloomy-hearted

-nhliziyoncane: ‘small-hearted’ = impatient, quick-tempered

-nhlizyonde: ‘long-hearted’ = patient, long-suffering

-nhliziyonhle: ‘good-hearted’ = good-hearted (duh)

-nhliziyonye: ‘single-hearted’ = unchanging, good-hearted

Digest those for a bit (not literally, of course, as heart is very chewy), and use them to describe people. All you need to do is prefix the subject concords for the three persons, singular and plural, or use the relative concord to describe other things:

e.g. nginhlizomfushane = I am quick-tempered; banhliziyobomvu = they are bad-tempered etc.

Enjoy! Bye for now.

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