Word of the Day

A crash course in isiZulu

October 15, 2015

Ngiyaphila [ngee-ya-PEE-la]

Meaning "I am well/fine". This is another response used during a greeting, which by Saturday morning you should be able to fully put together!

Once more, the subject link "Ngi-" is used, and "-ya-" indicates that we are still talking in the present tense.

The verb here is "-phila". It is a stative verb meaning "to be well/have health". You will hear more about stative verbs next week, but for now you should just know that verbs form the last portion of a compound word in isiZulu and in the present tense, end in an "a". This is where Zulu is closer to English than it is to a romance language such as Spanish... the verb does not give us any indication of who the subject is, only the subject link attached to the front of the word does.

Have you been practicing your pronunciation?

I was reminded by a colleague yesterday of a good way to explain what I passed off as the nasal 'n' sound in yesterday's post. Here's his advice:

The best way to get the "ng" sound of "ngi-" is to imagine the word "sing" and then to remove the "si-" sound. i.e. for "Ngiyaphila" it can sometimes help beginners to say "Sing"iyaphila and then learn to remove the "si-" sound. This is important because the "ng" sound is not two syllables, as a lot of English speakers pronounce it, like "N-Giya" which is incorrect.... the "ng" is actually a single sound, like in "sing."