Zulu Language Interpreters and Translators

Cal Interpreting & Translations (CIT) offers Zulu interpreters and translators with legal, medical, and specialty experience, including criminal and civil matters, employee meetings, engineering, patent cases, labor disputes, immigration, and more.

CIT offers comprehensive Zulu language services including interpretation, translation, and transcription, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, worldwide. Our interpreters and translators are native speakers who have been screened, certified, provided credentials, field tested, and kept up to date with developments in both English and Zulu languages through means such as lectures, conferences, and travel. CIT’s Zulu language interpreters and translators possess in depth knowledge of the Zulu language, as well as of the culture and history of the Zulu people, allowing them to provide informed and complete interpretation and translation.

 

Who speaks Zulu?

Zulu, or isiZulu, is a Bantu language in the Nguni family, spoken by about 10 million people, most of whom live in South Africa. Zulu is the second most widely spoken Bantu language. Over 24% of the population of South Africa speaks Zulu, and it is understood by over 50% of South Africans. South Africa has eleven official languages, including Zulu.

Due to migration, the Zulu language us spoken in many nearby regions, including Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, Zulu is referred to as Ndebele.

 

Zulu Dialects

Zulu has numerous dialects, four of which are generally recognized as major dialects: Zulu (of Zululand), Zulu (of Natal), Lala, and Qwabe. There also exists a distinct difference between Standard and urban Zulu. Standard, or “deep” Zulu, is considered purist, and is the form of Zulu taught in schools. Urban Zulu is spoken mainly in the larger cities, and incorporates many English loan words. For example, the word for “cellphone” in Standard Zulu is “umakhalekhukhwini”, while in urban Zulu is it “icell”. The commonality of urban Zulu in major cities, and a departure from everyday usage of Standard Zulu has led to many young people in the city not being able to speak or understand Standard Zulu fluently.

 

A History of the Zulu Language and People

The Zulu people were originally a major clan in what is today Northern KwaZulu-Natal. (“Kwa“ means “place of”.) The Zulu people, along with other Nguni communities, had migrated down Africa’s east coast for centuries, in what is known as the Bantu migrations. The Zulu eventually arrived in what is now South Africa sometime around the 9th century.

From the early 1800’s on, the Zulu people formed a powerful state under their king, Shaka. They thrived until 1879, when the British invaded. War waged for about seven months, with the Zulu being defeated July 4th, 1879. The British divided the Zulu Empire into what were called “kinglets”, of which they created thirteen. Jointly they were referred to as Zululand. Eventually, Zululand was absorbed into the British colony of Natal.

During apartheid, the Zulu people were forced to lose their South African citizenship, and KwaZulu was created. In 1970, all Zulu citizens were forced to become citizens of KwaZulu, effectively losing their South African citizenship. Beginning in 1970, hundreds of thousands of Zulu people were forcibly removed from their land and transferred to much worse land in KwaZulu. They were dispossessed of their own land. By 1993, over five million Zulu people lived in KwaZulu. In 1994, KwaZulu was joined with Natal, to form modern day KwaZulu-Natal.

Since 1994, when apartheid was abolished in South Africa, Zulu has seen a resurgence of use. Zulu radio stations maintain popularity, as do Zulu language newspapers and television networks. Still, Afrikaans is more than thirty times more likely to be taken as a second language course than Zulu by South African high school students.