Swazi - Siswati

1.  Classification / Classification

Swazi (or Swati or Siswati) is a language in the Nguni group of Bantu (Guthrie S40). (Webbook?)

Ethnologue? lists the classification as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Nguni (S.40)

'Siswati' is the Swati name, 'Swazi' is the Zulu name. The people are highly educated. Christian, traditional religion. (Ethnologue)

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

Swazi is spoken in Swaziland and South Africa. (Webbook)

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to Ethnologue:

  • 1,013,193 in South Africa (1996 census)
  • 650,000 in Swaziland (1993 Johnstone)
  • 43,000 in Lesotho (2002)
  • 731 in Mozambique (1980 census)
  • Population total all countries: 1,706,924.

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

According to Ethnologue:

  • Baca
  • Hlubi
  • Phuthi

5.  Usage / Utilisation

Swazi is the national language of Swaziland and an official language there and in South Africa.(Webbook and Ethnologue)

According to Ethnologue, in Swaziland, the literacy rate in first language is high, the language is taught in all national schools and used in newspapers.

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

Swazi has a standardized Latin-based orthography. It does not use extended characters.

"Current Siswati orthography is based on a joint orthography agreed upon by both South Africa and Swaziland in 1980. However, this was apparently based on the 1969 Swazi orthography (Taljaard et al., 1991:1)." (Ribeiro 2010:18 n7))

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

According to the Geonames "Unicode test page...: Swati alphabet" http://www.geonames.de/alphrs.html#ssw , the alphabet is the same as that used in English (although there is no explanation if this applies to both Swaziland and South Africa)

A sample text is shown on the "Language Museum" site: http://www.language-museum.com/s/swati.htm

7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

Latin fonts without extended ranges (such as commonly used for English) will suffice.

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

An English keyboard or the South African keyboard http://translate.org.za/content/view/24/41/ can be used (verify re the English keyboard)

7.3  Content on computers & internet / Contenu en informatique et sur l'Internet

The South African language site "Batho Portal" http://www.sediba.org.za/ has a section on & in Siswati.

Wikipedia in Swati at http://ss.wikipedia.org/ (apparently just the site has been reserved)

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

The OpenOffice suite of software applications has been localized in Swati by Translate.org.za of South Africa. See http://translate.org.za/content/view/17/54/ . No information on any localization for Swaziland.

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue

  • ISO 639-1: ss
  • ISO 639-2: ssw
  • ISO 639-3: ssw

7.6  Other / Autre

Swati English Dictionary / sí-Ngísi sí-chazamagâma (word list - verify language) http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/translation/Swati/

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

8.2  Institutions / Institutions


8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile

AfricanLanguages.com "Siswati (Swati)" page http://www.africanlanguages.com/swati/

Open-Tran.eu supports Swazi http://ss.open-tran.eu

9.  Comments / Remarques

This is a cross-border Southern African language that could have localized versions for Swaziland as well as South Africa - though the differences apart from a few minor locale issues would probably be minor. In any event, if they are based on a common version - in this case the one done by Translate.org.za - that would make it easier for the broader user community.

10.  References / Références

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, http://www.isp.msu.edu/AfrLang/hiermenu.html (page on "Swazi," http://www.isp.msu.edu/AfrLang/Swazi_root.html )

Ribeiro, Fernando Rosa (2010), "Complexities of Languages and Multilingualism," pp. in Zubeida Desai. et al, Educational Challenges in Multilingual Societies: LOITASA Phase Two Research, African Books Collective. https://books.google.com/books?id=7q6qUEjADWwC

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Swati," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/ssw

SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables," http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp

Taljaard, P.C., J.N. Khumalo, and S.E. Bosch (1991), Handbook of Siswati, Pretoria: J.L. van Shaik.

U.S. Library of Congress, "ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages: Alpha-3 codes arranged alphabetically by the English name of language," http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/English_list.php

Wikipedia, "SiSwati," https://ss.wikipedia.org/wiki/SiSwati

______, "Swazi language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swazi_language

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Categories: Languages, South Africa, Swaziland