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General Introduction

South Africa consists of a population of 38 million comprising many ethnic groups, each with its distinctive language. In all there are 11 official languages in South Africa and several dialectical variants. Among the official languages is a group of Nguni languages (IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, IsiSwati, and isiNdebele) that are spoken by more than 20 million people. Of all the Nguni languages, IsiZulu is the most widely spoken. Approximately 8.3 million people in South Africa speak IsiZulu, with an additional 37,500 in Malawi, 15,000 in southern Swaziland, and 228,000 in Lesotho (Grimes, 1992). In KwaZulu-Natal, which is the largest province in South Africa, IsiZulu is the dominant language. IsiZulu is also the “dominant language” (Grobbler et al., 1990) in south eastern part of Mpumalanga Province, in Gauteng, as well as in the north eastern part of Orange Free State. The majority of South Africans who cannot speak IsiZulu fluently are at least able to understand it. Although there is a substantial number of official languages in South Africa, IsiZulu still remains the language with the largest number of speakers. The advantage of learning IsiZulu is that it forms the basis for understanding the other Nguni languages. If you can speak IsiZulu, you can invariably understand IsiSwati, IsiNdebele, and IsiXhosa.