Northern Sotho: Theme 9 - The human body and ailments

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

Click here to download a printable version of this theme.

About Northern Sotho nouns:
Nouns in Northern Sotho are grouped together into various classes according to the sounds they start with (referred to as prefixes). Nouns that have the same prefix belong to the same class. Most of the classes occur in pairs, of which one is the singular and the other the plural. Monwana for instance belongs to the mo- class, its plural menwana belongs to the –me-class. Letsogo ‘arm’ belongs to the le- class; matsogo ‘arms’ its plural, belongs to  the  ma- class; seatla ‘hand’ belongs to the se- class and its plural diatla ‘hands’ to the di- class. It is thus relatively easy to predict the plural form of the noun once you know the singular and vice versa. You will also see that the class to which a word belongs determines the sound which links it to the verb.

South African doctors are very well qualified and there are excellent hospitals in South Africa, whether private or provincial. Northern Sotho people either visit a Western doctor or a traditional doctor.  It is customary for traditional doctors (dingaka tša Sesotho) to throw divination bones to identify various illnesses, or to utilise an extensive knowledge of herbs, treebark, grasses, etc. inherited from previous generations to cure patients.  Medicine made from trees or shrubs is referred to as sehlare, while medu  is the common word for roots or bulbs. Sehlare is a general word for medicine.