Animal Words


If you want to hear the true sound of Shangana, I guess you can rely on animal words. This is a language permissive to influences regarding new contexts, due to a question of crossing with other languages during its natural development as an instrument of communication.


The above conclusion came from the characteristics sounds people do when pronouncing those animal words. The bestiary universe is very important in terms of African creativity. Animals are mainly present in tales, fables and proverbs.


As a curiosity here is a short list of animal words and a couple of popular says recurring to them, not including pronunciation because either it’s like written or very difficult to translate into current known sounds:


Homu – caw
Chinckama – sheep
Huku – chicken
Kondhlo – mouse
Mpalo or ndlhopfu– elephant
Mpfundhla – rabbit
Nsokoti – ant
Nkwahle – lizard
Ngwenya – crocodile
Nghonyama or nghala – lion
Mbzana – dog
Mamba – specimen of cobra, it seems the word came from here
Nkuku – cock
Mamgwa – zebra
Bsinyambana – bird
Chiyambana – little bird
Chipichi – cat
Mbuti – goat
Mhinsi – hyena
Yiñwe – fish


Well, the above must give you an idea of the richness of sounds. Now for the display of popular wisdom:


Risumu ra khele – Toad’s song. Meaning that you repeat yourself, you sing the same song (khele is toad)-
Munhu wo rhula i nyoka – The one that doesn’t speak is a snake (nyoka).
Mfenhe loko yi gugile a ya ha titshembi – Old monkey (mfenhe) cannot trust in his habilities.
Mhinsi yi famba ni wusiku – The hyena walks during the night. Meaning: bad things can happen during the night.