How to use the dictionary

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Enter one or more words into the search field and click "Search" to look them up.

What you can type in

  • Only Zulu or English. I know it sounds funny given the name of the website but that's how it is.

  • Single words like namuhla or today.

  • Compound Zulu words like asimbonanga.

  • Pronoun/adjective/noun phrases like lezi zinja ezine or these four dogs. The pronoun is optional. Hint: Type numbers as words.

  • English pronoun/verb/object phrases like I can see him. The object is optional. The range of recognized tenses and moods is still rather limited but will grow in the future. Just give it a try.

  • English dates like May 17 or on the 5th of September etc.

  • Integer decimal numbers like 14736. The range is currently limited to 1012-1 in Zulu and 1015-1 in English. The English phrases use the short scale naming convention.

What you should not type in

While this should be obvious, sometimes it seems it's not: If you want the Zulu word for music, don't type The Zulu word for music. You'll get more noise than actual music. Just type music. I mean, you wouldn't talk to a printed dictionary, would you? No, this is not Wolfram Alpha.

Lookup aids

While typing, you get a list of suggestions that best match your input (needs Javascript). Click on one of the suggestions to look it up. The list is built from the most wanted words of the past few weeks. This implies that if your word doesn't show up here you may still find it in the dictionary. So don't give up at this point.

To re-lookup only part of your query, hold down the Ctrl key and select the desired substring with the mouse. This needs Javascript and preserves the original search field contents.

To suppress the display of phonetic transcriptions, check the "hide phonetic spelling" box.

To clear the search form click the "Clear" button.

Results

Direct Matches
heavy adj.
-nzima [rel.]; -sinda [v.]
 
modern adj.
contemporary[PC+] namuhla; [PC+] manje
~ musicumculo wanamuhla
 
sofa n.
usofa
 
-sofa n. stem
usofan. 1a/2a
 
usofa/osofa n. 1a/2a (-sofa) [uˈsɔ:fa] [ɔ:ˈsɔ:fa]
couch; sofa; settee
 
Potential Decompositions (verbatim)
-fa v/i. [fa]
die
be ill; be sick
faint
 
sofa [ˈsɔ:fa]si + zo + fa
Future tense of -fa (v/i.)
SC: si- (1p pl., cl. 7)
we will die
it will die
 
Compound Expressions (verbatim)
heavy modern sofa
usofa wanamuhla onzima
usofa wanamuhla osindayo
usofa wamanje onzima
usofa wamanje osindayo

The result set contains one paragraph per dictionary entry matching your query. If an entry can take different parts of speech, each part of speech is listed separately.

Each paragraph begins with the keyword followed by its part of speech. Zulu entries then show the noun classes, the stem (in parantheses) and the (optional) phonetic spelling.

Stems are denoted by a leading dash (-). Nouns appear as "singular/plural" if both forms exist, otherwise only one form is given. The English plural is only shown if it is irregular. For Zulu verbs the verb stem is given.

English adjectives may translate to Zulu adjectives (very few), relatives or verbs each of which have their own sets of concords. Adjectives are marked "[adj.]" after the translation, relatives are marked "[rel.]" and verbs are marked "[v.]".

Direct Matches
These are words that exist in the dictionary as you typed them.
Potential Decompositions
Compound Zulu words like "asimbonanga" are decomposed, if possible, into prefixes, stem and suffixes and translated into English. Note that these are literal translations that might be unsensical. It is up to you to choose a suitable translation.
Compound Expressions
If you look up a simple phrase like "big dog" or "inja enkulu", the dictionary engine tries to translate it as a whole. Again, these are literal translations.
The tilde (~)
The tilde character (~) is used to save space. It stands for the current keyword. E.g., under "modern" it says "~ music: umculo wanamuhla" which means that "modern music" is "umculo wanamuhla" in Zulu.
Spelling suggestions
If you look up a single word that is not in the dictionary you get a list of English and Zulu spelling suggestions (if available), i.e. entries similar to the word you typed in. You can click on a suggestion to look it up. The English list is based on GNU Aspell while the Zulu list is created with homegrown magic.

Tip: If one or more words of a multi-word lookup didn't produce results, try looking them up separately (e.g. by Ctrl+Double Click, see "Lookup aids") to check if there are spelling suggestions.

Abbreviations

~
the current keyword
[+ …]
followed by …
1p, 2p, 3p
1st, 2nd, 3rd person
æ
a-allergic verb
(preceding 'a' becomes 'e')
abbr.
abbreviation
a.c.
adjective concord
adj.
adjective
adv.
adverb
AP
aspect prefix
BNP, b.n.p.
basic noun prefix
cl.
noun class
comp.
comparative
conc.
concord
dem.
demonstrative
enum.
enumerative
hl.
hlonipha term
ind.
indicative mood
inf.
infinitive
interj.
interjection
interr.
interrogative
irr.
irregular
loc.
locative
n.
noun
[NEG+] …
use negative form of …
OC, o.c.
object concord
o.s.
oneself
PC, p.c.
possessive concord
[PC+] …
prefix … with possessive concord
part.
participial mood
perf.
perfect (= recent past)
pl.
plural
poss.
possessive
pr.c.
pronomial concord
pron.
pronoun
prp.
preposition
q.c.
quantitative concord
quant.
quantitative
rec. past
recent past tense
rec. past cont., r.p.c.
recent past continuous
rel.
relative (Zulu adjective type)
RC, r.c.
relative concord
SC, s.c.
subject concord
sg.
singular
sjnc.
subjunctive mood
sup.
superlative
sb
somebody
sth
something
usu.
usually
v.
verb
v/aux.
auxiliary verb
v/i.
intransitive verb
v/pass.
passive verb
v/stat.
stative verb
v/t.
transitive verb
w/
with
w/o
without