The Lion King · Tigers · Randomness

Mistake in the Fandom!

That's right, there's something wrong with a certain piece of information, and it's caused many resulting errors...

That misleading piece of information is in the translation of "Ingonyama nengw' enamabala". Everybody has it translated as "Here is a Lion and a Tiger." This is WRONG! I start you off with a breif primer in Zulu...

Every noun (person, place, or thing) in zulu belongs to a class. These classes are depicted by a noun prefix at the beginning of the word. In all senses, a word is not complete if it does not have its appropriate noun prefix. Refer to the following table:

Singular PrefixesPlural Prefixes
Class 1um(u)-Class 2aba-
Class 1au-Class 2ao-
Class 3um(u)-Class 4imi-
Class 5i(li)-Class 6ama-
Class 7isi-Class 8izi-
Class 9in-/im-Class 10izin-/izim-
Class 11u(lu)-*Ref: Class 10
Class 12ubu-
Class 13uku-

Note: Classes 12 and 13 have no plural, and class 11 takes the plural of class 10.

The class I'd like to focus on is class 9, where the root word -ngonyama lies. Note that if the root word begins with an "N" in this class, the "N" is dropped from the prefix.

The prefix of a noun allows a word to form what in English is a singlular or plural word: Ingonyama: A Lion. Izingonyama: Lions. All lone nouns are formed like this, with very little exception.

Now, the word "and" (ne-), which, when saying "this and that", is required. This is where the confusion lays, and many overlook a slight error. The true translation of "Ingonyama nengw' enamabala", is "A Lion and a Leopard (-ngwe) come to this open place." True, the word "Nengwe" does mean "Tiger", but to say "A Lion and a Tiger", you would add "ne-" to the root word -nengwe, creating "Nenengwe". Problem! Not what appears in the song... What does appear in the song is "Ingonyama" (A Lion) "nengwe" (and a LEOPARD) "enamabala" (come to this open place [-bala, open place]). Nengwe is simply the root word "-ngwe" (leopard), with the word "and" (ne-) tacked onto it, like it should be. A Lion and a Leopard come to this open place. This makes a bit more sense, since Tigers don't live in Africa. :)