#iziHloko – a note

For those of you who haven’t noticed, I don’t put the izihloko (newspaper headlines) on the blog anymore – to see them, you need to follow @isiKhovana on Twitter, or you can simply search for the #izihloko hashtag.

I give points for each one, and give cryptic clues as to how to translate them – since most of them are incomprehensibly divorced from their contexts. 

Give them a try, or simply read them for interest’s sake. Ideally, you should subscribe to Isolezwe (you can do it online) or go and buy your copy to read more.


Kwathula du ngoMasingana – Dead Quiet in January

What kept the owl quiet these past four weeks? Why were there no bits and pieces of linguistic weirdness occasionally scattering across your screen?

ngenxa yomsebenzi-nje. because of work. 

Which is a good thing. 

uMasingana, the isiZulu name for this month, relates to the verb singa, meaning ‘to look about, to peer out of a burrow, to search for something’ – it’s the month when you poke your head out of the ruins of the previous year, and scout around for things to make ends meet. 

It’s particularly apt looking back at this January, as I took my first step into leading a linguistically focused life – although it involved slightly more than just a look around!

I now have 11 private clients, and 1 corporate – all wanting to learn isiZulu, with 34 people in total. 34 new isiZulu-speakers, enjoying their first tastes of the language of Heaven.

I also did some interesting translation this past month – although I was sceptical at first, since it was a course handbook on occupational health and safety for a major retail chain, I quickly realised that there was great scope for using some of my favourite parts of ulimi lukaPhunga noMageba. 

I managed to sneak in the verb derived from my favourite ideophone (wolokohlela, from the ideophone wólokohlo, denoting a large object falling from a great height with a clatter), and discovered that, ngesiZulu, there’s an ideophone denoting mass production: ukuthi khíqi. 

I stayed up until the early hours of many mornings, accompanied by my imiphaka and the izikhova (though, luckily, no otokoloshe or imikhovu), translating and recording and stretching my brain into obscure corners of grammar and syntax.

And I started on two very important documents – a textbook for teaching isiZulu (at school level, and to adults), and an adaptation and extension of the story of uSikhulumi kaHlokohloko . 🙂

So the owl has been industrious, but in so doing he has forgotten this online space. 


ngeziKhova (on Owls)

Post by Maurice Mackenzie >

Isikhova isisilwane esiphila ebusuku, esizingela namehlo alandela izindlebe ezicosha umsindwana ozo veza izilwane ezi phuma sekuhlwile.

Sidalwe nobuhlakana olungapezu’kwezinye izilwane.

Abadala bathe simela abaphansi ngoba ima sikhala kungathi kumemezana amadlozi noma amandiki.

Ngqungqulu ‘dla madoda

Translation by Cullen Mackenzie >

The owl is a creature that lives at night, that hunts with its eyes following and its ears gathering up stray pieces of small sounds which show the position of animals that come out once the sun has set.

It was created with cunning that is greater than the other animals.

The old people say that the owl represents the ancestors because when it cries it can be said that the amadlozi and the amandiki are being summoned together.

uNgqungqulu ‘dla madoda (the man-eating Bateleur Eagle, Terathopius Caudatus)

note:I had forgotten that another one of my father’s izithakazelo is uNgqungqulu, the Bateleur Eagle. I think this may be a reference to colouring (see pictures), but it could also be something to do with character – isingqungqu is a shy or retiring person, and ingqungqu is (inexplicably) “a tuft of soft hair” or “a humming”, “a noise of deep distant music”, “a rattle (as of distant machine-gun fire)”. I will ask him.