Zulu / isiZulu Translation Services

Flawless Zulu Translation Services

According to the 2011 census, there are over 11.5 million Zulu (or isiZulu) mother-tongue speakers in South Africa. That amounts to 22.7% of the population. It’s been estimated that up to 50% of the population speaks Zulu as either a second or third language, which makes it, without a doubt, the biggest language in the country. In addition to its prevalence in South Africa, Zulu is also spoken in Swaziland, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and Malawi. As one of the most powerful languages in the country, and with a growing base across the continent, it’s only natural that ST Communications should include Zulu in its range of translation services.

ST Communications specialises in translation and interpreting services for African languages. There are between 1250 and 3000 languages spoken in Africa and it would be impossible to translate all of them, as well as their dialects. Instead, we aim to facilitate communication and understanding between as many of the primary languages as possible and that obviously includes Zulu.


Business and Personal Translation and Interpreting

Our team of translators and interpreters consists of in-country mother-tongue speakers, who also happen to have experience in several specialist fields, including petroleum, pharmaceuticals, engineering, IT, marketing and mining. This means that not only do they understand the languages to be translated (English to Zulu or Zulu to any other language on our books), but they also understand the industry. This gives an added depth to our services that is lacking in many other companies.

Our services, which can be tailored to suit a variety of business and personal requirements, include:

  • Localisation, so you can tailor your software and website content to suit different Zulu audiences.
  • DTP services, so you can translate all of your print material into different scripts or alphabets.
  • Simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, so you can facilitate understanding at business conferences, workshops, seminars and fund-raising events, as well as at private functions, like weddings and other celebrations.
  • Print translations, editing and proofreading, so you can translate anything from product instruction guides, business contracts, by-laws, technical manuals and textbooks and other academic literature to personal letters, emails, faxes and news articles.


Fill in a form outlining your translation project and we’ll get back to you with a quote on the same day. Alternatively, contact us to find out more about our crack-team of translators and interpreters, and what they can do to help you.


Zulu in a Nutshell

Zulu is part of the Nguni family of languages and is actually so similar to Xhosa that understanding one usually allows speakers to understand the other. It is most common in KwaZulu-Natal (unsurprisingly) but is also widely spoken in Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

The first book on the Zulu language was a grammar book written in 1850 by Hans Schreuder, a Norwegian missionary. The first written work in Zulu was a translation of the Bible in 1883. The first novel written in Zulu was by John Dube in 1930, called Insila kaShaka. Zulu has been a staple on South African television since the early 1980s. The first Zulu full-length feature film was called Yesterday and it was nominated for an Oscar.

Many Zulu words have been absorbed into the everyday South African vocabulary, including ubuntu (the spirit of humanity), donga (ditch), indaba(conference) and muti (medicine).

While there are some recognised dialects, there is also Standard Zulu, which is the language taught at schools and used for formal business and academic purposes, and Urban Zulu, which is the “slang” language spoken by city dwellers. Urban Zulu relies heavily on loan words, usually from English, such as i-cell for mobile phone, as opposed to umakhalekhukhwini in Standard Zulu.

Famous Zulu speakers include that uber-warrior and founder of the Zulu nation, King Shaka ka Senzangakhona, ex-national soccer captain Lucas Radebe, Paralympic gold medal winner Samkelo Mike Radebe, author BW Vilakazi, musician Sipho Mchunu (who partnered with the famous “White Zulu” Johnny Clegg) and actor Henry Cele, who was most famous for playing legendary King Shaka.