Article

Zulu bird names: A progression over the decades (I)

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 38, issue 3, 2018 , pages: 261–267
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2018.1518029
Author(s): Adrian KoopmanFaculty of Arts and Design, South Africa

Abstract

For nearly 250 years, beginning with Linnaeus in 1758 and continuing through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, birds have been given scientific and vernacular names created by deliberate, conscious, and methodological taxonomical naming processes. On the other hand, Zulu names for birds, for centuries only residing in oral tradition, have only found their way into print through being recorded in writing. In this process, oral knowledge is recast as written knowledge. This article looks at the first hundred years of such recording of Zulu names, beginning with the first settlers and explorers in what is now KwaZulu-Natal and continuing through to the publication of Samuelson’s dictionary in 1923. The article, and its planned follow-up article, looks at the contribution of various lexicographers, including Bishop Colenso, the Reverend AT Bryant, and CM Doke and BW Vilakazi, and then interfaces their dictionaries with various works on southern African birds, beginning with Layard’s 1867 Birds of South Africa, looking closely at Woodward and Woodward’s 1899 Natal Birds, and ending with the seventh edition of Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, published in 2005. The primary focus is on how the Zulu oral tradition of bird knowledge has increasingly been revealed to the Western world through the efforts of naturalists and lexicographers. The article concludes with a brief look at recent developments in Zulu bird names between 2013 and 2017.

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