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Xitsonga vs English Speakers: How They Express Themselves

There’s big difference between how English and indigenous African language people express themselves and just to put a disclaimer; this is not a racist or a tribalist article, it’s just for laughs.

For instance, when Africans speak; they are not only verbal about it but also use body language and also mimic sounds to add a few imaginative effects into their expression or story telling. Below are few examples that show how a Xitsonga person and an English speaking person express themselves.

English Speaker: Wow! Nice Hair!
Xitsonga Speaker: Loyi u rhandza ngopfu swilo wee, se u taku i yini leswinga lukiwa manjhe? A swi zi swiva fanela na nyana.

Translation: This one is such a liker! What is that on top of her head? It doesn’t even suit her.


English Speaker: Babe! Will you please hurry? I am waiting for you.

Xitsonga Speaker: Wena una vulongeta ngopfu! Ndzi ta famba ndzi ku siya mina, u le kwihi?

Translation: You are so slow hey, I’ll leave your a$# behind. Where are you?


English Speaker: Honey! I’m home.
Xitsonga Speaker: Eeee! Ka ha swekiwa? Swi kwihi swakudya? Mina ndzi twa ndlala.

Translation: OMG! Are you still cooking? Where’s the food? I’m hungry.


English Speaker: My child is academically challenged but he is very special.
Xitsonga Speaker: Hayi hayi hayi! Dyi n’wana ledyi dyi ome nhloko, u feyirile futhi! Hikokwalaho ka yini anga tshiki kunene xikolo xa kona?

Translation: Argh man this child has no brain at all, s/he failed again? Why doesn’t s/he just quit school once and for all?


English Speaker: Good try babe.
Xitsonga Speaker: Wena u endla onge u tiva swilo ngopfu, vona se u endle thyaka laa!

Translation: The thing about you is that you think you know too much. Look at the nonsense you’ve just done here!


English Speaker: I lent you a R100 last month, may I please have it back?
Xitsonga Speaker: Wa tiva munhu wa hlupha! Ndzi n’wi lombe mali n’hweti leyinga hela, na sweswi anga se vuyisa. Hambi u lava ndzi n’wi landzelela wee!

Translation: You know some people are just a burden! Last month, I lent someone some money and they haven’t paid it back. I wonder if they just want me to run after them!


English Speaker: Will you please pass me the remote?
Xitsonga Speaker: Kasi TV leyi yi xaveriwe wena ntsena na? Tisa remote yoleyo ni lava ku vona bolo mina.

Translation: Did we buy this TV just for you or something? Pass me the remote, I want to watch soccer.

English Speaker: Will you please lend me your phone? I want to make a call.
Xitsonga Speaker: Awuna airtime nyana kwalano?

Translation: Do you have airtime?


 English Speaker: Thanks for the present babe.
Xitsonga Speaker: I mali muni xixexi? Naswona xi xaviwa kwihi?

Translation: How much is this thing? Where did you buy it?

English Speaker: Excuse me, may I please pass?
Xitsonga Speaker: Se miri hiya hundza hi kwihi hina loko mi tata ndlela, etilweni?

Translation: Ummm? Where do you expect us to pass when you’ve literally blocked the pathway, in heaven?


English Speaker: Should we take this to the bedroom?
Xitsonga Speaker: Yhiii! U lava ku n’wana a ze a vuya waha xaveleriwa?

Translation: Wow! So you want our child to come back home and still find me begging you?


English Speaker: Babe, may I please fix your belt?
Xitsonga Speaker: Ihalaa! Mi za mi tlula ti loop mi jahele byo vudlakuta!

Translation: LOL!

Do you know other phrases that African people say differently to English people? Please share with us using #XitsongaVsEnglishSpeaker hashtag and tag @shangazine on Facebook and Twitter.

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Hlulani Masingi

Hlulani Masingi, also known as Hlulz; is a young, vibrant and witty black South African Tsonga woman with a solid education and seven years media experience. She graduated at the University of the Witwatersrand with a Bachelors Degree in Media Studies and English Literature and Honours Degree in Media Studies and is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in African Languages and Linguistics in the Media at the same institution.

Born in Johannesburg and raised at ka-Mhinga, an underpriviledged village in Limpopo, Hlulani is a determined individual and regardless of her impoverished background, she has a variety of interests that include PR, Communications, Marketing and Events, her passion is Creative Writing. She has always had a strong thirst for knowledge and could already write the word ‘mother’ in her home language at the age of four. She started her first year of varsity at the age of 16. After working as an Online Editor from 2014 until 2017, Hlulani Masingi founded Shangazine – an online title focused on celebrating Xitsonga people’s traditional and contemporary lifestyle.


  1. Ha tlangele ntombi loko u kotile ku susa ndzhuti wa swa ntshikelelo eka ririmi rerhu ra Xitsonga, lexi loko munhu a ringeta ku xi vulavula eka tinxaka timbe o twa wonge u lo lahleka. Namuntlha a hi giyeni hi ba ni swigingi hi tlangela vutumbuluxi bya wena nwa-Masingi. Xitsonga xi ri: vutlhari bya mhandzela i ku vundzuka. N’wina vancindzu kukula kule hi yaleyo mbita yi hlanganyeteni mi sukela swimonyo swa hava.

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