isiZulu – the language of the Zulu people
Zulu or also referred to as isiZulu is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa (24% of the population) with over 10 million mother tongue speakers. Zulu is spoken predominantly in the north-eastern part of South Africa, in specific KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the northern parts of the Free State. The Zulu people, like Xhosa and other Nguni people, have lived in South Africa for a long time and the language has therefore been influenced by other traditional languages of the area such as San and Khoi, giving it several unique click sounds.
Zulu has a number of dialects, four of which are generally recognized as the major dialects: Zulu (of traditional Zululand), Zulu (of the old Natal), Lala and Qwabe. Understood by over 50% of the population in South Africa, it is the second largest traditional language in Southern Africa after Shona. Zulu, like most indigenous Southern African languages, was not a written language until contact with missionaries from Europe, who documented the language using the Latin script. The first grammar book of the Zulu language was published in Norway in 1850 by the Norwegian missionary Hans Schreuder. The first written document in Zulu was a Bible translation which appeared in 1883.
Today Zulu textbooks for children make up the majority of the market, however, increasingly more-and-more novels and short stories are also published by Zulu mother tongue speakers.