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Counting in Tsonga

Language overview

Forty-two in Tsonga The Tsonga language (Xitsonga) belongs to the Niger–Congo languages family, and more specifically to the Bantu branch. It is official in South Africa (where it is co-oficial with ten other languages), and in Zimbabwe, where it is co-official with fifteen other languages, and known as Shangani. Tsonga counts about 12 millions speakers.

Tsonga numbers list

  • 1 – n’we
  • 2 – mbirhi
  • 3 – nharhu
  • 4 – mune
  • 5 – ntlhanu
  • 6 – ntsevu
  • 7 – nkombo
  • 8 – nhungu
  • 9 – nkaye
  • 10 – khume
  • 11 – khume n’we
  • 12 – khume mbirhi
  • 13 – khume nharhu
  • 14 – khume mune
  • 15 – khume ntlhanu
  • 16 – khume ntsevu
  • 17 – khume nkombo
  • 18 – khume nhungu
  • 19 – khume nkaye
  • 20 – makume mbirhi
  • 30 – makume nharhu
  • 40 – makume mune
  • 50 – makume ntlhanu
  • 60 – makume ntsevu
  • 70 – makume nkombo
  • 80 – makume nhungu
  • 90 – makume nkaye
  • 100 – dzana
  • 1,000 – gidi
  • one million – gidi ya magidi

Tsonga numbering rules

Now that you’ve had a gist of the most useful numbers, let’s move to the writing rules for the tens, the compound numbers, and why not the hundreds, the thousands and beyond (if possible).

  • Digits from zero to nine are rendered by specific words: noto [0], n’we [1], mbirhi [2], nharhu [3], mune [4], ntlhanu [5], ntsevu [6], nkombo [7], nhungu [8], and nkaye [9].
  • The tens are formed by stating the plural form of the word for ten (makume, khume in singular), then the multiplier digit, except for ten itself: khume [10], makume mbirhi [20], makume nharhu [30], makume mune [40], makume ntlhanu [50], makume ntsevu [60], makume nkombo [70], makume nhungu [80], and makume nkaye [90].
  • Compound numbers are formed by stating the ten, then the unit separated with a space (e.g.: makume mune mune [44], makume nkombo mbirhi [72]).
  • Hundreds are formed by stating the plural form of the word for hundred (madzana, dzana in singular), then the multiplier digit, except for one hundred: dzana [100], madzana mbirhi [200], madzana nharhu [300], madzana mune [400], madzana ntlhanu [500], madzana ntsevu [600], madzana nkombo [700], madzana nhungu [800], and madzana nkaye [900].
  • Thousands are formed by stating the plural form of the word for thousand (magidi, gidi in singular), then the multiplier digit, except for one thousand: gidi [1,000], magidi mbirhi [2,000], magidi nharhu [3,000], magidi mune [4,000], magidi ntlhanu [5,000], magidi ntsevu [6,000], magidi nkombo [7,000], magidi nhungu [8,000], and magidi nkaye [9,000].
  • Compound numbers with hundreds or thousands are formed in a regular way (e.g.: dzana makume mune mbirhi [142], magidi mbirhi madzana mbirhi makume mbirhi mbirhi [2,222]).
  • The expression for million is gidi ya magidi, litterally a thousand thousands, and magidi ya magidi in plural. Higher scale numbers are: biliyoni, and tibiliyoni in plural (109, billion), then thiriliyoni (1012, trillion), khwadiriliyin or mamiliyoni-mune (1015, quadrillion), khwintiliyoni (1018, quintillion)…

Write a number in full in Tsonga

Let’s move now to the practice of the numbering rules in Tsonga. Will you guess how to write a number in full? Enter a number and try to write it down in your head, or maybe on a piece of paper, before displaying the result.

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Bantu languages

Gwere, Lingala, Makhuwa, Mwani, Nyungwe, Punu, Shona, Soga, Swahili, Tsonga, Tswana, Xhosa, Yao, and Zulu.

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