A language of South Africa

Alternate Names
Isizulu, Zunda, isiZulu

27,300,000 in South Africa, all users. L1 users: 11,600,000 in South Africa (2013 UNSD), increasing. L2 users: 15,700,000 (Webb 2002). Total users in all countries: 27,779,100 (as L1: 12,079,100; as L2: 15,700,000).


KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga (Gert Sibande muni) provinces; northeast Free State and southeast Gauteng provinces; Eastern Cape province: Harding area.

Language Status

1 (National). Statutory national language (1996, Constitution, Article 6(1)). Statutory provincial language in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces (2012, Use of Official Languages Act, No. 12, Section 4(1)).


Lala, Qwabe, Cele, Transvaal Zulu. Reportedly similar to Swazi [ssw] and Xhosa [xho].


SVO; noun head initial; 13 noun classes; no articles; verb affixes mark person, number, object; passives; aspect; causatives; 30 consonant and 10 vowel phonemes; stress on penultimate syllable; non-tonal.

Language Development

Literacy rate in L2: 70%. Taught in primary and secondary schools. Newspapers. Radio. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1883–1959.


Braille script [Brai]. Latin script [Latn], primary usage.

Other Comments

Christian, traditional religion.

Also spoken in:

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