How to Say Hi or Hello in Afrikaans, Xhosa, Shona and other Major Languages (2024)

Saying Hello or Hi is one of the ways to show that someone is friendly and that the person recognizes the existence of the person he is greeting. In South Africa, saying Hello to someone, including a total stranger, is a sign of courtesy and an act that shows one is well-trained and mannered.

There are 11 major languages in South Africa including, and people that own these languages have their ways of saying Hello or Hi. Like the way people say Hello in different ways (depending on the part of the country you find yourself in), there are different responses to Hello in these major languages.

Saying Hello Is A Sign Of Courtesy

Saying Hello as a form of greeting does not in any way bring someone down or bottle your social status; instead, it shows how civil you are. It is necessary to acknowledge people irrespective of their age through various forms of greeting – whether through a friendly wave, a nod, a smile, or a hello. It is not a big deal if you say Hello to a younger person; in African culture, the younger ones are expected to greet elderly people first as a sign of respect.

How to Say Hi or Hello in Afrikaans, Xhosa, Shona and other Major Languages (1)

The South African culture promotes respect among its citizens. Whether you find yourself in an informal or formal environment, you should at least say Hello to anyone you may wish to speak with. When you enter a cab and meet someone, say Hello. When you want to ask for direction or make an inquiry from someone, say Hello or any form of greeting to the person.

Saying Hello to people of younger age, opposite gender, and lower class doesn’t make you less of who you are. While it is not compulsory to exchange pleasantries with people, it is necessary you do so at all times. And mind you, not everyone will respond to your greeting. That shouldn’t make you feel sad or disappointed. Just keep doing it.

How To Say Hello In IsiZulu

There are over 12 million native speakers of IsiZulu. IsiZulu is predominately spoken in KwaZulu-Natal province and is understood by over 50% of South Africa’s population. Zulu kingdom has a way of saying Hello both to an individual or more.

  • Greeting: Sawubona! (to one) or Sanibona! (to many)
  • Response: Unjani? – How are you?

How To Say Hello In IsiXhosa

IsiXhosa is spoken as a first language by approximately 8.2 million people in South Africa. However, about 11 million in places like Gauteng, Eastern Cape, and Northern Cape use it as a second language. The way Xhosa people say Hello is quite different from that of the Zulu. Responses to the greeting are almost similar.

  • Greeting: Molo (to one) or Molweni (to many)
  • Response:Unjani? (to one) or Kunjani? (to many). Unjani means How are you?

How To Say Hello In Afrikaans

There are about 7.2 native speakers of Afrikaans in South Africa (as of 2016). About 10.3 million people use it as a second language as of 2002. Afrikaans, a West Germanic language, is also spoken in Zimbabwe, Bostwana, Zambia, to a lesser extent. Afrikaners say Hello in two ways, and you can respond in simple or multiple words.

  • Greeting:Haai! or Hallo!
  • Response:Hoe gaan dit met jou or u?. Both of them mean, How are you?

How To Say Hello In Sepedi

Sepedi is one of South Africa’s official languages. There are over 4.7 million native speakers of the language. The way you say Hello to one person in Sepedi is different from when you greet more than one person.

  • Greeting:Dumela (to one) or Dumelang (to many)
  • Response: O kae? (to one) or Le Kae? (to many). Both means How are you?

How To Say Hello In IsiNdebele

IsiNdebele is predominately used in regions like Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng, and North West. They’re about 1.1 million native speakers of this official language in the country. You can say Hello to someone from Ndebele using either of the words Salibonani or Lotjhani.

  • Greeting:Lotjhani or Salibonani
  • Response: Unjani (to one) or Linjani (to many). Both means How are you?

How To Say Hello In Siswati

There are over 2 million native speakers of Siswati, while over 2 million use the official language as a second language (as of 2002). Like the Zulus, the Swati people say Hello by saying Sawubona.

  • Greeting:Sawubona
  • Response: Unjani? Which simply means How are you?

How To Say Hello In Setswana

Setswana is native to South Africa and Botswana and is spoken by over 8 million people in South Africa. Dumela means Hellon in Setswana.

  • Greeting: Dumela
  • Response: O tsogile jang? Le kae? (to one) or Le tsogile jang? (to many). Both means How are you?

How To Say Hello In Tshivenda

This is the language of the Venda people. It is both an official language and second language of some people in South Africa. Native to both Zimbabwe and South Africa, Tshivenda is spoken by over 1 million people in the country. You can say Ndaa or Aa if you want to say Hello in Tshivenda.

  • Greeting:Ndaa or Aa
  • Response: Vho vuwa hani?; Meaning How are you?

How To Say Hello In Xitsonga

Xitsonga is the language of the Tsonga people. It is predominately spoken in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, while there are more than 3 million native speakers of the language in South Africa. Avuxeni means Hello in the language.

  • Greeting:Avuxeni
  • Response:Ku njhani?; Meaning How are you?

How To Say Hello In Sesotho

Sesotho is a major language in South Africa and is spoken by more than 11 million people in South Africa. It is a language of the Sotho-Tswana group. To say Hello to one person, the right word to use is Dumela when addressing one person or Dumelang for more than one person.

  • Greeting: Dumela (to one) or Dumelang (to many)
  • Response: O kae?; Meaning How are you?
How to Say Hi or Hello in Afrikaans, Xhosa, Shona and other Major Languages (2)

How To Say Hello In English

South Africa houses about 4.9 English-speaking South Africans. English, a West Germanic language, is one of the commonest languages of communication in the country, especially in most rural areas and in government and the media.

  • Greeting: Hello or Hi
  • Response: How are you?

How To Say Hello In Shona

Shona is not a major language in South Africa. However, smaller groups of the Shona people live in South Africa, Zambia, and Mozambique. Mhoro means Hello in South Africa.

  • Greeting: Mhoro (to one) or Mhoroi (to many)
  • Response: Wakadini zvako? (to one) or Makadini zvenyu? (to many). Both means How are you?

Other Ways To Say Hello To A South African

Apart from the local ways of saying Hello in the major languages mentioned above, there are other ways you can exchange pleasantries with a typical South African without them feeling offended.

These ways of ways are commonly used in the country and are easy to learn and use. Some of the words that make up this category are slang, borrowed words from some tribes, and the rest of them.

How to Say Hi or Hello in Afrikaans, Xhosa, Shona and other Major Languages (3)

If you are in South Africa or planning to visit the country, you can get acquainted with local residents through any of these ways of greeting.

1. Howzit

Howzit is a traditional South African greeting that roughly translates as “How are you?” or simply “Hello.”

2. Sharp Fede

Township life is always different from the way of life of people in uncivilized areas. South Africans living in townships have a way of greeting, unlike most folks in the rural areas. One of the ways they greet other people is by telling them “Sharp Fede.” The greeting simply means “Hello, how are you?”

3. Aweh

This particular South African slang is mostly used in the colored community. Aweh is used to greet someone or acknowledge something. I believe the next time someone tells you “Aweh,” you already know what to say.

4. Heita

Whether you find yourself in the city or rural area, one thing you must learn is to accord people some respect through greeting and other ways. Heita is a cheery slang form of saying “Hello” among South Africans living in urban and rural areas.

Now you have known the above-mentioned ways of saying Hello in the 11 major languages in South Africa, and the four mentioned below them. It is important to note that generally, you can also say Hello a South Africans by saying Thobela (mostly used in Pedi), Dumela, and Sawubona.

How to Say Hi or Hello in Afrikaans, Xhosa, Shona and other Major Languages (2024)

FAQs

How to Say Hi or Hello in Afrikaans, Xhosa, Shona and other Major Languages? ›

Greetings Hello! (to one person) Molo! Hello! (to more than one person) Molweni!

How do you say hello in Xhosa? ›

Greetings Hello! (to one person) Molo! Hello! (to more than one person) Molweni!

How do you say hello in all 11 languages? ›

Greetings in 11 Official Languages
  1. Hello! – Sawubona! ( ...
  2. Hello! – Molo (to one) / Molweni (to many) ...
  3. Hello! – Haai! / Hallo! ...
  4. Hello – Dumela (to one) / Dumelang (to many) How are you – O kae? ( ...
  5. Hello – Dumela. How are you – O tsogile jang? ...
  6. Hello – Dumela (to one) / Dumelang (to many) ...
  7. Hello – Avuxeni. ...
  8. Hello – Sawubona.
Sep 23, 2013

What is Afrikaans slang for hello? ›

Afrikaans doesn't really have an exact equivalent of 'hello'. The norms are 'Goeie more/middag/naand' which mean 'good morning/afternoon/evening. Afrikaners also use the term, 'Hoe gaan dit? ' (how are you) instead of hello.

How do you greet in Shona? ›

The traditional greeting involves a clap after the handshake. The first person claps twice whilst saying “Makadii” ('How are you? ' in Shona). The other person responds with two claps in return.

How do you greet everyone in Afrikaans? ›

Say “Haai” or “Hallo” if you are greeting an acquaintance or a friend. You can use the informal way to say “Hello” in Afrikaans if you know the person or are on familiar terms with the person. Many Afrikaners will greet each other with “Haai” or “Hallo” when they see each other on the street or in their homes.

How do South Africans greet? ›

The most common greeting is a handshake accompanied with eye contact and a smile. This is appropriate among most South Africans. Handshakes may be light or firm depending on the person you are greeting. People from rural villages may use two hands to shake/greet.

What do Afrikaans speak? ›

Afrikaans language, also called Cape Dutch, West Germanic language of South Africa, developed from 17th-century Dutch, sometimes called Netherlandic, by the descendants of European (Dutch, German, and French) colonists, indigenous Khoisan peoples, and African and Asian slaves in the Dutch colony at the Cape of Good ...

What is your name Afrikaans? ›

wat is jou naam?

What is Afrikaans slang for girl? ›

From Afrikaans stukkie (“girl, girlfriend”, literally “little piece”).

How can I learn Afrikaans fast? ›

Start with basic vocabulary and essential phrases. Listen to podcasts in Afrikaans or Afrikaans audio courses to get familiar with the tonation. Find an Afrikaans-speaking partner through online language courses or language teaching platforms. Find free Afrikaans lessons online for extra support.

Is Afrikaans an easy language to learn? ›

Afrikaans is one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn because--like many of the languages on this list--it's part of the Germanic language family. It's spoken in South Africa, Namibia, and a few other countries.

How do you greet in all South African languages? ›

How to say 'hello' in all 11 of SA's official languages
  1. English. Hello!
  2. isiNdebele. Lotjhani!
  3. isiXhosa. Molo!
  4. isiZulu. Sawubona!
  5. Sepedi. Dumela!
  6. Setswana. Dumela!
  7. Sesotho. Dumela!
  8. Xitsonga. Avuxeni!
Jul 28, 2017

What is Hello Zimbabwe? ›

Greetings & Basics. Hello - Hesi. It was good talking to you - Ndafara kutaura newe. Sorry - Ndine urombo. Thanks - Waita hako.

What language is Shona? ›

Shona is a language of Zimbabwe. Roughly 75% of the population there speak it as a first language. Shona (chiShona) is spoken by 8 to 9 million people, the vast majority living in Zimbabwe. There are also Shona-speaking populations in southern Zambia and Botswana.

How do you say thank you in Shona? ›

Maita Basa (Thank You) in Shona!

How do you say hey in Afrikaans? ›

1- Hallo. This Afrikaans greeting is the most commonly used, and, depending on your body language, you can greet nearly anybody this way, any time of the day. It literally means “Hello” or “Hi” in English.

How do you greet an older person in Afrikaans? ›

You can use hoe gaan dit met u when talking to a stranger or an older adult.

What is the respectful word for you in Afrikaans? ›

In Afrikaans, second forms of address could be a thorny issue, however. Instead of having an option such as the jovial all-rounder 'you', one has to either stick with u (the formal pronoun) or opt for jy and jou (the informal incarnation of 'you' and 'your').

What is Xhosa speaking? ›

Xhosa language, Xhosa formerly spelled Xosa, a Bantu language spoken by seven million people in South Africa, especially in Eastern province. Xhosa is a member of the Southeastern, or Nguni, subgroup of the Bantu group of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family.

What is Xhosa language called? ›

The Origins of the Xhosa Language

The Xhosa Language has its roots in South Africa from an ethnic group known as the amaXhosa. The official name of the language is isiXhosa, with the key word Xhosa being derived from the Khoisan Language.

Why do South Africans say hey? ›

It can be used to get attention, e.g., Hey you! It can be used as an expression of agreement, e.g., It was nice to eat Indian food for a change, hey? Howzit: Greeting, often used instead of hello.

Do Africans say good morning? ›

Habari za asubuhi (good morning) – nzuri (fine) Habari za mchana (good afternoon) Habari za jioni (good evening)

What is a famous Xhosa saying? ›

Isikuni sinyuka nomkwezeli. A brand burns him who stirs it up. This proverb is an exact equivalent to our English one, Let sleeping dogs lie.

Is Xhosa an easy language? ›

Xhosa is One of the Hardest South African Languages to Learn

There are quite a number of consonants present in this language. The sounds from Xhosa also sound aggressive based on its characteristics as opposed to having a soothing or calming sound.

What language is Xhosa spoken in? ›

Xhosa language, Xhosa formerly spelled Xosa, a Bantu language spoken by seven million people in South Africa, especially in Eastern province. Xhosa is a member of the Southeastern, or Nguni, subgroup of the Bantu group of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family.

How do you greet a girl in Xhosa? ›

What are some basic Xhosa greetings?
  1. Hello (singluar) - Molo.
  2. How are you? (singular) - Unjani?
  3. I am fine - Ndiyaphila.
  4. Hello (to more than one person) - Molweni.
  5. How are you? (to more than one person) - Ninjani?
  6. We are fine - Siyaphila.
  7. Stay well (goodbye to more than one person) - Salani kakuhle.

What is my name in Xhosa? ›

Xhosa Words & Phrasebook
Phrase list
Basics
And how are you?Kunjani kuwe?
What is your name?Ngubani igama lakho?
My name is ______Igama lam ngu ______
23 more rows

How do Xhosa speak? ›

Xhosa is an unusual, yet pretty-sounding, language. To many, it is difficult to learn because the consonants are uncommon and also densely populated. The sounds are relatively aggressive (as opposed to soothing and melodic). They comprise English sounds, 15 clicks, ejectives and an implosive.

Is Shona a difficult language? ›

Whether you're planning a trip to Zimbabwe or simply want to talk to a friend or family member in their native language, learning to speak Shona is not difficult. Because the language is phonetic, start by learning how to pronounce the alphabet.

Is Afrikaans hard for English speakers? ›

Afrikaans is one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn because--like many of the languages on this list--it's part of the Germanic language family. It's spoken in South Africa, Namibia, and a few other countries.

How difficult is Afrikaans? ›

Afrikaans is actually quite simple to learn, and many language learners consider it one of the easiest languages to master. Most Germanic languages have two or even three genders, but Afrikaans, like English, uses a singular gender. The verb conjugations were removed, simplifying the language even further.

How do South Africans say hello? ›

Howzit – A traditional South African greeting that translates roughly as “How are you?” or simply “Hello”. 2. Heita – An urban and rural greeting used by South Africans.

How to marry a Xhosa woman? ›

It's a marriage custom within the Xhosa culture where the groom-to-be chooses a lady he is interested in marrying. He then informs his family and they visit the chosen bride's family to discuss their desires and both the families reach an agreement.

How do Xhosa show respect? ›

Xhosa have traditionally used greetings to show respect and good intentions to others. In interacting with others, it is crucial to show respect (ukuhlonipha). Youths are expected to keep quiet when elders are speaking, and to lower their eyes when being addressed.

Is Shona a written language? ›

Shona is a written standard language with an orthography and grammar that was codified during the early 20th century and fixed in the 1950s.

Which African countries speak Xhosa? ›

Xhosa (/ˈkɔːsə, ˈkoʊsə/, Xhosa pronunciation: [kǁʰóːsa]), formerly spelled Xosa and also known by its local name isiXhosa, is a Nguni language and one of the official languages of South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Which country are Xhosa from? ›

Xhosa, formerly spelled Xosa, a group of mostly related peoples living primarily in Eastern Cape province, South Africa.

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