Zulu: Theme 2 - Asking for Help, Emergencies

Previous greetings and courtesies | asking for help, emergencies | numbers, days, months, seasons | question words, quantities, weather and time | banks, taxis and restaurants | transportation and finding your way | touring and socializing | at the filling station | the human body and ailments | shopping and sport Next

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Friendly requests

Zulus are very friendly and hospitable people and will assist anybody asking for help. However, in Zulu there is no actual word for ‘please’. The notion of ‘please’ is expressed by starting the sentence with Ngicela  (I request...). For example, Ngicela iCoke (Coke please), Ngicela ibhotela (Butter please), Ngicela ubisi (Milk please).  When a verb is used it also changes to accommodate the meaning of ‘please’, e.g. Ngicela ulethe ushintshi (Please bring me the change), Ngicela uhlale phansi (Please sit down). Note that the verb ends in –e to denote a request.

Expressing the negative

In order to say something in the negative, one usually adds an a- in front of the positive form and let the verb end in –i, e.g. Angiqondi (I do not understand) and Angikhulumi (I do not speak).  When giving a command for one person, the verb is used as is, e.g. Gijima! (Run!), Biza uThandi! (Call Thandi!)