07 March 2004

Lumela Something!

Lumela 'Mè, Lumela Ntate, Lumela Ausi, Lumela Abuti, Lumela Ngoan'eso, Lumela Mosali, Lumela 'Manyeeo, Lumela Monna. That's Sesotho in all its greeting splendour. The basic tenet to remember here is, "Do not greet anyone in Sesotho (especially in Lesotho) without identifying or qualifying them. Do not just say Lumela." Say, instead:

Lumela 'Mè to a lady, older than you or in your age group.
Lumela Ntate to a gentleman, older than you or in your age group.
Lumela Ausi to a lady, a lass, a girl, older or younger than you, but not usually in your age group.
Lumela Abuti to a man, a lad, a boy, older or younger than you, but not usually in your age group.
Lumela Ngoan'eso to a man, a woman, a girl, a boy, in your age group.
Lumela Mosali to a woman, a lass, a girl in your age group or younger, but not older than you.
Lumela 'Manyeeo to a woman, a lass, a girl in your age group or younger, but not older than you.
Lumela Monna to a man, a lad, a boy in your age group or younger, but not older than you.
'Mè of course means mother, Ntate means father, Ausi means sister, Abuti means brother, Ngoan'eso means brother or sister (sibling), Mosali means woman, 'Manyeeo literally means "mother of whatshisname," and Monna means man. You may also attach the name of the person being greeted (Lumela Ausi Kananelo, Lumela Ntate Masilo) for the first four, but not for the last four (Ngoan'eso, Mosali, 'Manyeeo, Monna). And please do remember that in Sesotho "Li" is pronounced /di/ and "Lu" is pronounced /du/. South African Southern Sesotho writes them the way they sound, ie with a "d" (Dumela); but where's the fun in that? Sesotho was first written in Lesotho by French Missionaries, who left us the legacy of "L" pronounced like "D" in these two instances. For argument's sake, I find it equally inappropriate to represent the sound "T" with "ght" as in "thought," but heck, it hasn't killed anyone yet.

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