Throughout history great novelists have influenced and expanded their native languages. Dante added to Italian, Shakespeare coined many words for English, and now Phiwayinkosi Mbuyazi created ’450 new words in Zulu, the mother tongue of a quarter of South Africa’s 50 million population.’ Mbuyazi wanted to write a novel in his native language but found that many words he wanted to use did not exist in Zulu.

His book, titled “Amayiphendleya,” is an adventure tale about four teenage boys and the wonders of technology. For the first time in Zulu history they come across an isilolongamoya — a machine that controls the air temperature, or air conditioner. They also come to terms with umnukubalo, (pollution) and with ubungqonela (domination), both words derived from their function or sound.

Many people dislike the idea of creating new Zulu words as they wish to keep the language “pure”. Mbuyazi rejects this idea however claiming that if Zulu does not keep up with the times the language will eventually be left behind.

He hopes that the new words will catch on with the legions people who speak Zulu as a first and second language, and eventually become part of everyday vocabulary. But the author’s own path shows how many hurdles exist. He had to set up his own publishing company after several mainstream houses turned him down, saying there was “no market for Zulu literature.” A recent industry survey showed no Zulu books were published in 2011, except for school books.

It is baffling that publishing houses do not think 12.5 million people whose mother tongue is Zulu do not constitute as a viable market. This astounding statistic just highlights the importance of Mbuyazi’s work and the necessity of Zulu to keep up with the times.

via: Oman Observer