Research Article

The language of Wakanda: An analysis of the use of isiXhosa in the Hollywood science-fiction film Black Panther

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 40, issue 3, 2020 , pages: 249–256
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2020.1855715
Author(s): Ivankosi Babayi, South Africa, Tessa Dowling, South Africa, Rethabile Possa-Mogoera, South Africa

Abstract

The focus of this article is to provide a linguistic description of the ‘language of Wakanda’ – a non-existent, fictional language that the makers of the Hollywood science-fiction blockbuster Black Panther represent by using isiXhosa. Our data is collected from the script, subtitles and linguistic performances of isiXhosa by the actors in the film. While cultural and media studies are germane to the discussion, they are not our primary focus, although we provide reference to scholarship on these topics generally, and more specifically to academic commentary on the film Black Panther. As the language of Wakanda has never before been described by linguists, our research objectives are to examine how this language features in the movie in relation to other languages used (a statistical analysis) and also how it is rendered in text by the makers of the subtitles (grammatical and syntactical observations) and by the actors (a phonological analysis).

Get new issue alerts for South African Journal of African Languages