I received an email a few days ago from the Peace Corps informing me that for the first two months of training, myself and the 90 or so other volunteers will be learning the language of Setswana. Setswana is a Bantu language - spoken primarily in Southern Africa, including Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Though it is only one of 11 official langauges of South Africa, it is the national language of Botswana. The PC said we should get lessons 1 - 4 under our belts before we arrive. So far it hasn't been too bad. I am posting some basics of the lessons below not only so you may get a sense of this new language, but also because it will probably help me to write it down and say it as I type.
Lesson 1: Pronunciation
The basics are as follows - there is no such thing as letters Q, V or Z.
R's are rolled.
T's and P's are usually said with aspiration.
G's are pronounced as if you are hocking a lougie. (Actually written in the language booklet)
And the most interesting for those of us who have never been exposed to Bantu languages - there are approximately 4 different click noises, all indicated in different ways.
tl = cluck (like calling for a dog to come)
tlh = almost sounding like "Kuh" (scleroisis)
ts = as in mats
x = click that is laterally released (between tongue and cheek) I think this is usually accompanied by a pronounced N in front of it, but that's probably too big of an assumption to make at this point.
Lesson 2: Greetings
Dumela rra/mma = Good day/evening/nite sir/ma'am
O tsogile jang? = How are you? (formal)
- literal translation = How have you risen?
(oh TSO-gee-lay jahng)
Ke tsogile sentle wena o tsogile jang = I am fine, and how are you?
(kay TSO-gee-lay SEN-tle, WAY-nah, oh TSO-gee-lay jahng)
Ke tsogile sentle = I am fine.
Ke a le boga = Thank you
(kay AH lay BO-gha)
Le kae? = How are you?
(lay KAHI) (like tie with a K)
Re teng a lona le teng? = I'm fine and how are you?
(rred TEHNG ah LO-nah lay TEHNG)
Re teng = I am fine.
Lesson 3: Introductions
Leina lame ke Joey = My name is Joey
(LEE-na LAH-me KAY)
Sefane same ke Cardella = My last name is Cardella.
(se-FA-nay SA-may KAY)
Leina le gago ke mang? = What is your name?
(LEE-na le GHa-gho ke mahng)
O tswa kae? = Where are you from?
(Oh tswah kahi)
Ke tswa kwa New York = I am from New York.
(KAY tswah KWAH)
Leina le gagwe ke Aaron = His name is Aaron.
(LEE-na le GHAU-way KAY)
a o tswa kwa Botswana? = Are you from Botswana?
(ah oh tswah KWAH)
Ke moithaopi = I am a volunteer.
Lesson 4: Saying Goodbye
Go siame = Good-bye
Ke tla go bona = See ya
(kay TLA gho BO-nah)
Tlhola sentle = Have a good day
(KAH-lah SEHN-kle) (with click number 2 on first syllable, click 1 on last)
Robala sentle / boroko = Good night
(rrroh-BA-la SEHN-kle / bo-RO-ko)
Ke tla go bona kamoso = See you tomorrow
(kay TLA gho BO-nah kah-MO-so)
Ke tla go bona kgantele = See you later
(kay TLA gho BO-nah kan-TAY-leh)
Those are the basics. I'm going to get that under my belt and then write an entire entry in Setswana.
In about a year.
Ke tla go bona kgantele.
4 months ago