Who cares what Zulu has a word for?

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Did you know Zulu has a word for "annoying three-foot-long one-note plastic trumpet"? Isn't that fascinating?

No. Of course it isn't fascinating. It's a wonderful example of why I tend to think the issue of what things different languages have words for (especially, have nouns for) is stupid and trivial.

Turn on your TV right now to whichever sports channel is showing the England's soccer game against the USA in the World Cup in South Africa. Turn the sound up. Why does it sound as if several dozen propeller-drived airplanes have started up their engines in the stadium? Has someone dropped one of the commentator's mikes into a huge beehive? No. It's just that South Africans love to bring annoying three-foot-long one-note plastic trumpets to every game and blow them continuously. (They all seem to be tuned roughly to A below middle C.)

Because they use these things, Zulu has a word for them (and other languages like Setswana do too, but the Zulu one happened to catch on). And because the World Cup is being played in South Africa and the move to have these things banned failed, English has borrowed the word: vuvuzela (Mark introduced the topic and the word in this Language Log post a year ago). It's not a fascinating fact that English has this work now, it's trivial and obvious, like every other factoid about things people have nouns for.

I don't really follow sport; but tonight my friend Dan Everett has mailed me from the States to say he is watching to see the Americans give the English a damn good thrashing; and I'm down in Kent, in southern England, where the streets are full of England's red-on-white St George's Cross flag and my dad has turned the TV on and England scored a goal within three and a half minutes of kickoff (weep, Dan!), and we'll probably watch the rest of it. With the damn vuvuzelas buzzing and whining in our ears continuously.

So yes, English has a Zulu-originated word meaning "annoying three-foot-long one-note plastic trumpet" now. Who cares. What things have been named by nouns so far is utterly uninteresting. Even whether the Americans will thrash the English, delighting both Dan Everett and the people of my home in Scotland (where the slogan is "Anyone but the English"), is more interesting than that.

—Hey, the Americans have just scored. It's one-all. And an England striker seems to have been injured. This is getting a lot more interesting than random loan words.

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62 Comments »

  1. stormboy said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

    And now the USA have equalised. 'The usual hope and horror,' said Adrian Chiles, the British TV presenter. Quite.

  2. BlueBottle said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

    I've learned two other words as a result of the World Cup coverage. One is the Zulu word for "rejoice", and the other is a newly-adopted English word used as a preemptive excuse for a failure to score. By an odd coincidence, they're both spelled "Jabulani"

  3. Simon Cauchi said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

    Is "vuvuzela" meant to be onomatopoeic, like "cock-a-doodle-doo"? I'm just back from a brief holiday in Rarotonga, where every morning we were woken at dawn by the roosters' crowing. It didn't sound remotely like "cock-a-doodle-doo".

    Those annoying three-foot-long one-note plastic trumpets were seen and heard everywhere at the Australian bicentennial in 1988. You had the choice of red or blue. I brought my red one home to New Zealand but it soon went out in the rubbish.

  4. Sili said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

    But can the vuvuzelistas do recursion?

  5. JS Bangs said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

    The most interesting part of this post was the fact that you used "England" as an attributive modifier rather than "English" in an England striker seems to have been injured.

    [Yes. Because an England striker doesn't have to be English. (Indeed, even the England coach doesn't have to be English, and isn't.) So England striker can only mean "striker belonging to the soccer team that represents England". —GKP]

  6. Yuval said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

    Here in Israel very similar-sounding instruments (used mainly by fans in soccer matches) are called zamburas. I wonder where *that* word is from.

  7. Phyllis said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

    I'd only ever be interested if Zulu had twenty words for vuvuzela.

  8. Ray Girvan said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

    vuvuzela … an annoying three-foot-long one-note plastic trumpet

    It sounds like something out of Jack Vance's The Moon Moth.

  9. Sili said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

    Also, someone should look into the vector for the Zulu-Swiss cultural exchange.

  10. John Lawler said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

    As of the final whistle, the game is a 1-1 draw, with which the American team was apparently quite happy.

  11. Karen said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

    @JS Bangs – The most interesting part of this post was the fact that you used "England" as an attributive modifier rather than "English"

    This is because the man plays for a team called "England" rather than is of English nationality. Same way we'd say "a Boston pitcher" rather than a "Bostonian" one.

  12. Leo said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 4:45 pm

    An England striker does have to be English. It's only the non-playing staff of an international team (e.g. the manager) who are allowed to come from any country. I think phrases like "England striker" and so on are common simply by analogy with "Chelsea striker" etc etc.

  13. Leo said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

    "This is because the man plays for a team called "England" rather than is of English nationality."

    True, but all England footballers are English, though the reverse is of course not true.

  14. The Mysterious Masked Linguist said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

    Trivia can be fascinating. Though I have to agree with a tweet from Paul of Paul and Storm: It's apparently Zulu for "drunk dude shouting 'WHOOOOOOO!'"

  15. Mark P said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

    An England striker does have to be English.

    Not true. Has to have a British passport, with a link to England. He can – quite legally – never have visited country and not speak English.

    The England soccer team played Owen Hargreaves for many years. Born in Canada, with a Welsh mother and English father. He was playing in Germany when selected, and had never lived in the UK at the time. At very best he was half-English by origin. By any reasonable assessment he was a Canadian – and the commentators often referred to him as such.

  16. Tom said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

    Yep, and since "England" is not an independent state, FIFA eligibility rules (which state that, to represent a nation, a player must hold its nationality) are superceded by an agreement between the home nations at the UK level. This is where the infamous "grandparent rule" comes in! A Welshman with a single English grandparent would be perfectly entitled to play for England despite not being English.

  17. dveej said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

    But…*I* care. Deeply. About, that is, the "vuvuzela."

    Soccer, meh.

  18. Henning Makholm said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 8:56 pm

    Are there equally intricate rules for determining the national affiliation of the grandparent themself? An infinite descent seems to threaten.

  19. Ray Girvan said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

    dveej

    Agreed. I don't give a damn about kick-ball, hit-with-a-stick-ball, carry-ball or whatever this 'World Cup' is about, but a new word is intrinsically interesting.

  20. Taylor Selseth said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

    I love those vuvuzelas, they give a wonderful local flavor to the soccer matches.

    I generally hate it when people obsess over words in a language that have "odd" meanings, it seems to appeal to those that keep trying to reintroduce the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis nonsense through the back door.

    Oh, and USA! USA! USA! :-)

  21. John Cowan said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 1:30 am

    Henning Makholm: Few countries, whether jus soli like the U.S., France, the U.K., and Ireland, or jus sanguinis like Germany, Greece, Turkey, or Bulgaria, allow citizenship to pass indefinitely through descent without some sort of contact with that country. In the U.S. and the U.K. the cutoff is two generations.

  22. tudza said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 1:31 am

    Perhaps if they had 23 words for "annoying three-foot-long one-note plastic trumpet"?

  23. J. Goard said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 3:08 am

    an England striker doesn't have to be English. (Indeed, even the England coach doesn't have to be English, and isn't.

    Are you suggesting that you can't refer to Capello as "the English coach"? I certainly can, and although a Google search for [capello "english coach"] is dominated by examples discussing the need to hire an assistant coach who is an Englishman, there are clearly many examples where "English coach" refers to the Italian. The first one is today's Boston Herald headline: Heat turned up on English coach.

  24. Leo said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 3:25 am

    I am aware that the eligibility rules are quite relaxed. But my point was that to play for a country, you need to be formally affiliated with that country by birth, descent or acquired nationality – countries can't simply buy players, no matter how much money they have, as clubs can. In the case of the UK countries, the standards for eligibility may be surprisingly inclusive, – inevitably, since "English" does not have a strict definition outside of sports either – but they're not indefinitely so. Hence the phrase "X-land player" refers to a subset of "X-ese players", which is the tangential link to language in this otherwise purely footballing conversation!

    That said, I don't think anyone has so far invoked the vuvuzela in support of Sapir-Whorf – or anything else linguistic – so this considerably pre-emptive post may just have been an excuse to mention football anyway!

  25. Sid Smith said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 4:34 am

    "The first one is today's Boston Herald headline: Heat turned up on English coach."

    In any British/English newspaper it would be "England coach".

  26. Adrian Bailey (UK) said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 4:34 am

    ObLL: The meaning of "solid": http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/10301713.stm

  27. David Cantor said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 4:53 am

    Sili,

    I realize you were making a joke, but I feel compelled to comment.

    An alphorn played well is, in my opinion, one of the loveliest sounding wind instruments. Its a delight to encounter an alphornist during a random walk in the mountains. About as far from the annoying vuvuzela monotone as its possible to get.

  28. James Wimberley said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 5:39 am

    GKP: "So yes, English has a Zulu-originated word meaning "annoying three-foot-long one-note plastic trumpet" now. Who cares. What things have been named by nouns so far is utterly uninteresting."

    I'm curious what it is about language that led you to spend your working life on it. Is it only amateurs who feel the romance of etymology and curious words, and read the OED entries for cutter and penguin for fun?

    "What things have been named by nouns so far" may be uninteresting to a grammarian. But grammar is not, to the rest of us, the whole of life or even language. Naming patterns could be evidence in pyschology for mental maps and learning processes, and perhaps as an indicator of the complexity of a society. What specifically determines the boundary between objects and processes that get nouned and those that stay noun phrases? We are presumably trying in some sense to minimise the cognitive burden of communication, and simplify phrases down to atomic words when it's "worth it". Defining "worth it" does not look like an easy problem, as it involves network effects as well as individual ones.

    BTW, why is "what things have been named by nouns so far" a singular subject, as it clearly is?

    [It is indeed very reasonable to ask of someone like me — a linguist but thinks mere listing of nouns is boring — what James asks: what does fascinate someone like me? The answer is that it's the system into which everything fits, not the mere words that fit into it. Working out how to formulate the constraints making up the grammatical system seems deep and difficult and interesting to me, whereas listing nouns does not.

    And etymology? It might be interesting to someone who has the extraordinary degree of expertise in modern and classical languages that is needed, but I'm afraid I don't. To do anything substantial on the etymology of typical words in English you'd need to be extremely well versed in Old English, Old Norse, French, Latin, and Greek for starters. I've studied all of those, but my grades were never good. (You wouldn't need Zulu. The occasional words borrowed from Zulu or Turkish or Cherokee are so rare that they barely matter at all.) I'm too ignorant to be a talented etymologist, but perhaps not too ignorant to discover things about the syntax of modern Standard English. This is just a particular fact about me, of course. I absolutely do not suggest that the things that interest me are the only things that should interest anyone.

    As to the question about why what things have been named by nouns so far is a singular subject, the answer is that it is not a noun phrase with things as its head; it is a subordinate interrogative clause. When I say What things have been named by nouns so far is utterly uninteresting (and I meant by that, uninteresting to me), what I'm saying is that I have no interest in the answer to the question "What nouns have been named by nouns so far?"; the subject of my sentence is a clause that in semantic terms expresses a question. And a clause counts as singular for purposes of how the verb agreement works, no matter how many plural nouns it might contain. —GKP]

  29. Picky said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 7:50 am

    An England striker … But probably not a Wales or Scotland striker … And certainly not an Italy or France striker. What's going on here?

  30. Richard Howland-Bolton said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 8:28 am

    But those of us who have watched many of the games care deeply that there is a NEED for such a noun!
    It's interesting too that the insane giant bee noise is constant. Anywhere else football crowd noise follows the action of the game.

  31. Bloix said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 10:10 am

    But how did "vuvuzela" originate in Zulu? Is an arbitrary coinage? A metaphor? A compound? These are the interesting questions.

    I like etymology, myself. It's easy for a non-specialist and it's often surprising and amusing. But I don't care for vuvuzelas – why tens of thousands of people want to make continuous farting noises is something I don't understand.

    [(myl) In the post that I wrote about this last year, I quoted a South African page as providing this not-very-helpful information:

    There's uncertainty on the origin of the word "vuvuzela". Some say it comes from the isiZulu for - wait for it - "making noise". Others say it's from township slang related to the word "shower", because it "showers people with music" - or, more prosaically, looks a little like a shower head.

    Some other sites are less uncertain, though no more authoritative, asserting confidently vuvuzela is Zulu for "to make a loud noise".

    The dictionary at isiZulu.net offers entries for vuvu "ideo. of swelling up", -vuvukala "swell; swell up" and -vevezela "quiver; shiver; tremble", among other perhaps-relevant things, but no vuvuzela. Can someone who knows isiZulu comment?]

  32. Jarek Weckwerth said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 11:08 am

    Picky: "certainly not an Italy or France striker". Well…

    Italy striker

    France striker

    Funny that Italy striker seems to be quite a bit more frequent.

  33. Bob Ladd said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 11:32 am

    A couple of strictly linguistic observations:

    (1) Is vuvuzela really a noun in Zulu? If so, shouldn't it have a noun class prefix? A little web searching suggests it may be class 5/6, i.e. ivuvuzela in the singular and amavuvuzela in the plural. May we soon expect pedants to start complaining about the English plural vuvuzelas? But, like MYL, I don't know isiZulu either. Can some reader enlighten us about the morphology here?

    (2) With regard to an England striker, *a France striker, etc.: British English tends to use adjective forms for American states where American English would just use the noun attributively, e.g. Brit. the Virginian legislature, the Californian state budget, but Am. the Virginia legislature, the California state budget. This is the opposite of the difference between Brit. and Am. seen with national teams, where Brit. is happy with attributive use of the noun and Am. prefers the adjectival form.

  34. Sili said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

    "why tens of thousands of people want to make continuous farting noises is something I don't understand."

    See also the opening of the video for a medieval vuvuzela.

  35. JimG said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

    I find it off-base to criticize only the South African vuvuzela noisemakers. The Brazilians have long used samba whistles and other whistles to express their exuberance (and occasionally, wrongly, interrupt soccer matches.) The Japanese save their breath, using cans of compressed air to blow their monotone horns all game long. In the Middle East, fans sing a repetitive song (only a bit better than monotonous) all game long, accompanied by a local variant of the clarinet. They all lend a certain something to the match, but they all displace thoughtful, insightful expressions of appreciation of the game.

    Of which speaking, the standards of TV commentary are mostly no higher than ever. ESPN/ABC have broadcast crews (with one exception) who put the brain in neutral and the motormouth in high gear, producing streams of malaprops, observations of the pointless or useless, and plenty of howlers. The only thing worse is the closed-captioning, which usually makes no sense, and in which the most important word in a sentence will be unintelligible. Sadly, the commentary in Spanish over our US hispanic network is accurate enough, but I fail to undertand why everything needs to be restated three or four times. People who have nothing to say should just shut up.

  36. Russell Cross said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

    I believe the relativity of word meanings can be adequately demonstrated by the 1-1 draw between England and the US yesterday. The word "win" for the English speaker meant "score more points than the opponent" whereas for the American speaker it meant "don't lose against the English." Thus, the "draw" turns out to be more of a "win" for the guys who were watching in my local sports bar. I suspect if England had won (i.e. got more points than the US) we may still have seen "win" change to include the gloss "lose against the English by scoring less goals but we shouldn't see it as a real loss because they are a good team and we did well to even manage not to be crushed 33-0."

  37. Ben said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

    @James Wimberley wrote:

    BTW, why is "what things have been named by nouns so far" a singular subject, as it clearly is?

    I think it's generally true that wh-clauses are grammatically singular, regardless of the number attribute of the phrasal constituents. The internal verb agrees in number with the internal subject ("what things" agrees with "have been named"), but the number of the entire phrase clause is singular.

    A wh-clause is also usually semantically singular. In this case, "what things have been named by nouns so far" is a reference to a particular concept. So, using editorial substitution, one might write: "[This concept] is utterly uninteresting".

  38. Anton Sherwood said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

    In other words, the subject of that sentence is the question ("what"), not the things that are the subject of the sentence.

  39. Stephen Jones said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

    They all lend a certain something to the match, but they all displace thoughtful, insightful expressions of appreciation of the game.

    This is football we're talking about you know!

  40. J. Goard said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 7:20 pm

    @Sid:

    Then how about the Telegraph?

    "Hopefully, he gets the support he needs," the Manchester United manager said. "It is not going to be an easy job. There is a tremendous pressure on the English coach, which Fabio will understand when he is two minutes into the job.

    Here, "English coach" refers to whomever occupies the position, but clearly doesn't exclude the Italian.

  41. Áine ní Dhonnchadha said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 9:38 pm

    Given the nature of the Bantu branch of Niger-Congo to which isiZulu belongs, what is the plural?

  42. T-Rex said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

    Well as an Englishman I can't call Fabio Capello the English coach. Just as Arsene Wenger is the Arsenal coach, Capello is the England coach, because England is the name of his team. To me, any demonym describes the coach's origin.

    This applies to the players too, but it's far more confusing because they aren't always talked about in the context of the national side, whereas Capello is. Calling them England players instead of English players is a practice which arises during the normal season, when it is a useful distinction – it picks out not the player's nationality but the fact that he plays for the national team. For example, Theo Walcott is an English player but not an England player, because he's not in the world cup squad. This distinction is applied to players of other nationalities too.

    Of course, when the world cup comes around, the distinction is useless, because all the relevant players obviously play for their national team. But the linguistic habit remains. At least, that's how I see it.

  43. Picky said,

    June 14, 2010 @ 3:45 am

    Jarek Weckwerth: amazing. There I go again making rash assumptions based almost entirely on my own English. "Italy striker"? I'd never have believed it!

  44. T-Rex said,

    June 14, 2010 @ 6:57 am

    Also, regarding the plural, I've just heard a BBC Radio 5live presenter use "vuvuzela".

  45. J. Goard said,

    June 14, 2010 @ 9:16 am

    @T-Rex:

    Well, the noun modifier vs adjective is a pretty useful distinction for me, too, just different in its distribution. An "English controversy" is a controversy within England, while an "England controversy" is a controversy about England. It seems for me that the adjective is pretty close to the possessive, while the nominal modifier often has non-possessive prepositional paraphrases. Can you say something like "English rival, Germany"?

  46. Simon Cauchi said,

    June 14, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

    No, that would be "England's rival". So there are three possibilities to consider: England, English, and England's (not to mention Britain and the UK).

  47. vanya said,

    June 14, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

    It's a wonderful example of why I tend to think the issue of what things different languages have words for (especially, have nouns for) is stupid and trivial.

    What a sad comment. I suppose this is why most people who love languages don't have much interest in linguistics, and vice-versa. I find Mr. Pullum's comment even sadder because I have not, in fact, heard anyone going on about the "fascinating fact" that English has borrowed the word "vuvuzela" from Zulu (mostly I just hear complaints that someone invented the vuvuzela in the first place), so it's not clear to me at whom Mr Pullum feels he has to lash out with such venom. I hope he stays well clear of what I thought was an interesting debate on "Mech" vs "Shpaga" at Language Hat.

  48. Theodore said,

    June 14, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

    David Cantor said:

    An alphorn played well is, in my opinion, one of the loveliest sounding wind instruments. Its a delight to encounter an alphornist during a random walk in the mountains. About as far from the annoying vuvuzela monotone as its possible to get.

    As any alphorn (or bugle, etc.) player can tell you, there's no such thing as a one-note horn. It's all in the embouchure. Though there are many people playing vuvuzelas, apparently no one is playing them well!

  49. Gadi said,

    June 14, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

    Yuval, zambura is from the Arabic and means any type of horn (as in car horn). In a sports context it refers to air-horns.

    The anti-vuvuzela camp seems to be predominately anglophone. Here in Israel and in the rest of basketball-playing Europe the air-horn drone (which is much louder) is the usual accompaniment to a basketball game and can also be heard (although less prominently) in football grounds.

  50. Nathan Myers said,

    June 14, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

    I just found out they have a word in Nicaragua for silverware that was put on the table but not used, and so can be put back in the drawer without washing it. I don't know what the word is, and don't need to know, but I'm glad it exists. It reminds me of Ford Prefect's Betelgeusian nickname "Ix", which means "boy who is not able satisfactorily to explain what a Hrung is, nor why it should choose to collapse on Betelgeuse Seven."

  51. Jethro said,

    June 15, 2010 @ 2:27 am

    Nathan Myers: Its not just the Nicaraguans that have a word for silverware that was put on the table but not used, and so can be put back in the drawer without washing it. In English (or at least in my family) its called a sunbeam.

  52. Sili said,

    June 15, 2010 @ 8:41 am

    Though there are many people playing vuvuzelas, apparently no one is playing them well!

    *ahegm*

  53. Jason Orendorff said,

    June 15, 2010 @ 10:49 am

    Words at play:

    Devuvuzalize your World Cup experience with the devuvuzelator audio processing plugin http://bit.ly/bNjtHd #devuvuzelation

    http://twitter.com/Boriss/status/16187791267

  54. language hat said,

    June 15, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

    I just checked my Zulu-English dictionary and found that the third meaning of vuvu (isivuvu, pl. izivuvu) is 'bull-roarer.' I'm surprised that hasn't come up; it seems unlikely to be a coincidence.

  55. ohwilleke said,

    June 15, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

    If the word is a non-loan word it is particularly interesting.

    A lot of the process of identifying the history of a language involves identitying common lexical roots that were presumably part of a parent language.

    Key issues involved include: when do people invent new words when they could borrow words instead? What kinds of words get invented? Why do new root words, as opposed to compounds of old words, get invented? Why do some semantic leaps survive and become new words while others flop?

  56. T-Rex said,

    June 16, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

    @ J. Goard

    I agree with Simon Cauchi that I would describe Germany as England's rival. Clearly you and I have different grammars! Maybe Professor Pullum finds that interesting?

    As to whether the use of the word vuvuzela in English is interesting or not, I can quite see that this particular instance of loan-word use is not exactly fascinating, but I really can't understand why anyone interested in language can right off the whole subject of loan-words as boring. Still, each to their own.

  57. language hat said,

    June 16, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

    Geoff's profession is that of curmudgeon; being a linguist is a sideline. His intemperate overstatements should not be taken too seriously.

  58. Terry Collmann said,

    June 16, 2010 @ 6:53 pm

    The London suburb next to the one where I live has a large stadium dedicated to the 15-a-side football game and a sign that says: "Home of England Rugby".

    The vuvuzela I am currently holding was made in Germany and the manufacturer's website is vuvuzela-europe.com.

    Facebook apparently already has a group called "Ban football at vuvuzela concerts".

  59. Áine ní Dhonnchadha said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 1:01 am

    After noticing the listed etymology, I realised it is listed as a homonym for the ONLY word I previously knew in isiZulu: qhaqhazela. How's that chance?

  60. Nick said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 10:01 pm

    GKP, would you accept "the Dutch striker" as an acceptable description of a player who plays for the Netherlands? Or would you still prefer "the Netherlands striker"? That last one sounds a bit clunky and it's all due to the strange fact that while English people come from England, Dutch people come from the Netherlands.

  61. Trevor said,

    July 1, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

    Vuvuzela means to blow the suffix ela means is used for actions eg. Zuphela (jump for) qhamela (to lie your head down) gibela (climb).

    Amavung vung is wind. vunguza is the blowing of the wind. So vunguzela would be to blow. Vuvuzela is just an informal play on words. If it were english it would be the gus-guster or blo-blower.

  62. Saken said,

    July 23, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

    And as far as I know, just over a year later, no-one in the UK mentions vuvuzelas at all. I wonder how many people here have forgotten them as completely as I had? For all the fuss that was made about them at the time, I only remembered the things at all when I stumbled across this post looking for something else.

    I guess this loan-word was on shorter loan than most…!

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