Southern Ndebele

1.  Classification / Classification

Ethnologue lists the classifications of southern Ndebele as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.30), Sotho, Northern

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

Southern Ndebele mainly in Transvaal, South Africa.

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to information compiled from Ethnologue:

  • Southern Ndebele (South Africa):
    • 586,961 (1996 census)
    • 1,400,000 second-language speakers

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

Ownby (personal communication, 1986) notes that "there are three distinct dialects of Ndebele: Northern Transvaal Ndebele (on the verge of extinction), Southern Transvaal Ndebele and that spoken in Zimbabwe." (Webbook)

J.A. Louw (personal communication, 1982) reports (Ndzunda-Manala) Ndebele is "a Zulu dialect insofar as it is mutually intelligible with Zulu." (Webbook)

Ethnologue notes that Ndebele of South Africa and Ndebele of Zimbabwe are different. The latter (Northern Ndebele) is "close to Zulu."

5.  Usage / Utilisation

Ndebele in South Africa is one of the 11 official languages.

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

Ndebele has a standardized orthography. (Webbook) It is Latin-based.

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

According to information from the Geonames "Unicode test page...: South Ndebele alphabet" , the alphabet is the same as in English (verify).

A text sample for Ndebele (without clarity as to which kind) is shown on the "Language Museum" site:

7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

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

The South African language site "Batho Portal" has a section on & in isiNdebele.

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

The OpenOffice suite of software applications has been localized in Ndebele (South Africa) by See

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue

Ndebele, South (South Africa):

  • ISO 639-1: nr
  • ISO 639-2: nbl
  • ISO 639-3: nbl

7.6  Other / Autre

The Open Knowledge Network apparently had a Ndebele version of its project software (no further info).

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile

9.  Comments / Remarques

10.  References / Références

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, (page on "Ndebele," )

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Ndebele [South Africa],"

SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables,"

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,"

Wikipedia, "Transvaal Ndebele language,"

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