|The trilingual English - Xhosa - Estonian mini dictionary/phrasebook
(One of a kind I believe, as this is a unique combination of languages!)
During my stay in South Africa, I communicated with the speakers of probably the most unique language I've ever heard Xhosa. I was fascinated by this language, which sounded unlike anything I had heard before. Unfortunately I was not able to take a Xhosa language course, as I had very little spare time. Instead, I tried to get to know the language on my own I asked some of the native speakers to teach me a few things, borrowed some Xhosa poetry books (just for practicing the pronunciation, I did not understand the content!) and later on bought a Xhosa phrasebook (which I read aloud in my room every night before going to bed, especially focusing on the click sounds; later I was told that everyone else in the house heard me practicing!)
I've compiled this mini-dictionary for people interested in languages in general, and more particularly in African languages, as many languages in the sub-Saharan Africa belong to the same family, thus knowing one considerably facilitates learning others. It is also meant for my South African friends who are interested in the Estonian language and knowing some words and phrases in it. And last but not the least, it is also for myself, so that I would not forget the words I learned in Xhosa and to be able to look them up conveniently from one place.
The purpose is not to compile an extensive dictionary but just to list some most common words and phrases, some of which I also learned (and used) during my stay. Xhosa has a rather complicated grammar I won't explain it here (I don't even understand everything myself!). If you are interested in more information about the language, check the resources below.
I've used the above-mentioned resources in compiling this phrasebook, and additionally, a list of most common words and phrases written down for me by Khanyiso, a friend of mine from Esangweni. Also, I got a few words from Sizwe. Thanks, guys! ;o)
Also: To hear how the Xhosa language sounds like, listen to the clips 'MIRIAM MAKEBA - The Click Song' (mp3 audio) and 'A sentence in the Xhosa language' (wmv video), available from the Downloads page. Do not be discouraged in your attempts to learn the language after listening to these clips (especially the latter)! ;o)
There will be additions to the dictionary, so check back! You are most welcome to comment on this little dictionary or add a contribution! Also, do not hesitate to contact me, if you notice any mistakes in the dictionary.
Some facts about the Xhosa language:
The click sounds:
There are 3 basic click sounds in the Xhosa language, marked by the letters X, C and Q (the latter is most difficult to pronounce for non-native speakers!). For the purpose of maintaining a reasonable length to this text, I'm not going to explain how these sounds are produced, more detailed descriptions are available from the sources listed above. However, it is very difficult to master the sounds if the language is not your mother tongue. Originally, the Bantu languages did not have click sounds, these are the result of early contact with the indigenous Khoisan people of Southern Africa.
I've grouped the words and phrases below according into CATEGORIES, such as greetings, food/drink etc. Some of the words/phrases have comments on their usage. The dictionary follows the format English Xhosa - Estonian, with a few exceptions.
GREETINGS / GOOD-BYES / WISHES / HOSPITALITY
BASIC QUESTIONS / EXCLAMATIONS
SOME BASIC WORDS
FOOD / DRINK
(Xhosa English Estonian)
Ubuntu* ungamntu ngabanye abantu - A person becomes a person through other people (a famous Xhosa saying) - Me oleme inimesed läbi teiste inimeste (we do not really have this saying in the Estonian language, this is just a literal translation)
*ubuntu - human nature, humanity (ubuntu is a social and spiritual philosophy serving as a framework for African society; stands for humanity or fellow feeling; kindness) - inimlikkus, inimsus, inimloomus