Lozi language

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siLozi / Rozi
Native toZambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa
RegionWestern Zambia, Zambezi
Native speakers
(725,000 cited 1982–2010 census)[1]
Latin (Lozi alphabet)
Zambian Braille
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2loz
ISO 639-3loz
K.20 (K.21)[2]
PersonmuLozi, Murotse
PeoplebaLozi, Barotse
LanguagesiLozi, Rozi
CountryBarotseland, Bulozi
A Lozi speaker, recorded in Namibia.

Lozi, also known as siLozi and Rozi, is a Bantu language of the Niger–Congo language family within the Sotho–Tswana branch of Zone S (S.30), that is spoken by the Lozi people, primarily in southwestern Zambia and in surrounding countries. This language is most closely related to Northern Sotho (Sesotho sa Leboa), Tswana (Setswana), Kgalagari (SheKgalagari) and Sotho (Sesotho/Southern Sotho). Lozi, sometimes written as Rotse, and its dialects are spoken and understood by approximately six percent of the population of Zambia. Silozi is the endonym (the name of the language used by its native speakers) as defined by the United Nations. Lozi is the exonym.

The Lozi language developed from a mixture of two languages: Luyana and Kololo. The Luyana people originally migrated south from the Kingdom of Luba and Kingdom of Lunda in the Katanga area of the Congo River basin, either late in the 17th century or early in the 18th century. The language they spoke, therefore, was closely related to Luba and Lunda. They settled on the floodplains of the upper Zambezi in what is now western Zambia and developed a kingdom, Barotseland, and also gave their name to the Barotse Floodplain or Bulozi.

The Kololo were a Sotho people who used to live in what is now the Free State province of South Africa. The Kololo were forced to flee from Shaka Zulu's Mfecane during the 1830s. Using tactics they had copied from the Zulu armies, the Kololo conquered the Luyana on the Zambezi floodplains and imposed their rule and language. However, by 1864 the indigenous population revolted and overthrew the Kololo. By that time, the Luyana language had been largely forgotten; the new hybrid language is called Lozi or Silozi and is closer to Sesotho than to any other neighbouring languages in Zambia.

Lozi is also spoken in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia (Zambezi Region).


Lozi has 5 vowels:

Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a

20 consonants are in Lozi:

Labial Alveolar Palatal/
Velar Glottal
Stop voiceless p t c k
voiced b d ɟ ɡ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced z
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Approximant l j w

Tone is marked as high or low.[3]


Lozi uses the Latin script,[4][5] which was introduced by missionaries. In 1977, Zambia standardised the language's orthography.[6]

Letters (upper case) A B C CH D E F G H I J K L M N Ñ O P S SH T U W Y Z
Letters (lower case) a b c ch d e f g h i j k l m n ñ o p s sh t u w y z
IPA [a] [b] [] [d] [e], [ɛ], [ɪ] [f] [x] [h] [i] [] [k] [l] [m] [n] [ɲ] [o], [ʊ], [ɔ] [p] [s] [ʃ] [t] [u] [w] [j] [z]


Months of the year
Lozi English
Sope January
Yowa February
Liatamanyi March
Lungu April
Kandao May
Mbuwana June
Sikulu July
Muyana August
Muimunene September
Yenda October
Njimwana November
Ñulule December

Sample text[edit]

The following is a sample text in Lozi of the Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (by the United Nations):

Taba ya 1: Batu kaufela ba pepilwe inge ba lukuluhile ni liswanelo ze swana. Ba ba ni swanelo ya ku nahana mi ba swanela ku ba ni likezo za buzwale ku mutu yo mung'wi.

— in Lozi[7]

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

— in English[8]


  1. ^ Lozi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  3. ^ Fortune, George (2001). An Outline of Silozi Grammar. Bookworld Publishers.
  4. ^ "Lozi language and alphabet". www.omniglot.com. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  5. ^ "Zambia - PanAfriL10n". 2013-09-29. Archived from the original on 2013-09-29. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  6. ^ "Lozi - PanAfriL10n". 2013-11-10. Archived from the original on 2013-11-10. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  7. ^ "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  8. ^ "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Retrieved 2020-02-11.

External links[edit]

Lozi language stories[edit]