|Is Lozi closer to Tswana or Southern Sotho?
An interesting question asked by Tsepiso from Lesotho. Looked at historically we can see in Guthrie’s List and Taxonomy that Silozi appears as K21 and Tswana and Sotho as S31 and S32. It is now generally agreed that Silozi was wrongly classified. From the diagram it would appear that Tswana and Sotho are closer. This is further confirmed if you look at the Sotho Group Family tree. South Sotho, North Sotho and Tswana are shown to be ‘siblings’ at the same level on the family tree.
However, as regards modern Silozi, it has its roots in Southern Sotho. Most of Sebitwane’s people the Makololo were Basuto and spoke Sesuto but they were also a collection of defeated remnants bound together by a fear of Chaka. They headed in roughly a North Westerly direction through the Transvaal, Botswana, Zimbabwe to Zambia. Other linguistic elements influenced their speech on their journey of 2000km between 1826 and 1840. As they travelled they were joined by other Bechwana peoples, so some Sechwana was mixed with the Sesuto. This new language was called Sekololo. This name came it is said from the verb kuikolola, to shave one’s head.
After being defeated by the Tonga and Ila they moved and settled at Linyanti in the Chobe/Caprivi area. They then moved North and also settled amongst the Aluyi. In 1864 the Aluyi rose against the incomers. The men were killed but the women absorbed. The language absorbed new words from Siluyana and some of the Sesuto phonetics ‘softened’.
The Sesutho elements were further reinforced with the coming of the Paris Evangelical Mission Society sent to Bulozi from Lesotho and comprising of European and mother-tongue Sesutho speakers. They used Sesutho for their missionary work and printed books for the first 30 years. In 1913 they formally abandoned Sesotho in favour of Silozi, a fusion of Siluyana and Sikololo. It is reported that the proportion of Seotho to Siluyana vocabulary in Silozi is 75% - 25%. Grammatically, however, it is nevertheless quite close to other Zambian languages. Rather than a sister to South Sotho I think Silozi is more of a daughter with Setswana being an Aunt. That is my take as an interested amateur. I’m sure Tsepiso (Sepiso in Silozi English:Promise) and I will be pleased to hear from anyone else interested in this.
Below for some comparison are the Sotho, Lozi and Tswana anthems and the Lord’s prayer.
Lesotho fatse la bo-ntat’a rona Bulozi fasi la Bondat’a luna
Har’a mafatse leletle ke lona. Hal’a mafasi le linde ki lona
Ke moo re hlahileng Ki mo lu pepezwi
Ke moo re holileng Ki mo lu hulezi
Reale rata Mi lwa li lata
Molimo ak’u boloke Lesotho Jesu, kale, u felisize lindwa
U felise lintao le matsoenyeho Felisa cwalo lunya, maswenyeho
Oho, fatse lena Oho lifasi le
La bo-ntat’a rona La Bondat’a luna
Le be le khotso Li be ni kozo
Fatshe leno la rona
Ke mpho ya Modimo,
Ke boswa jwa borraetsho;
A le nne ka kagiso.
Tsogang, tsogang! banna, tsogang!
Emang, basadi, emang, tlhagafalang!
Re kopane le go direla
Lefatshe la rona.
Ina lentle la tumo
La chaba ya Botswana,
Ka kutlwano le kagisano,
E bopagantswe mmogo.
Thapelo ea Morena
Ntata rona ya mahodimong,
lebitso la hao a la ke le kgethehe;
ho tle mmuso wa hao; thato ya hao e etswe lefatsheng,
jwalokaha e etswa lehodimong;
o re fe kajeno bohobe ba rona ba tsatsi le leng le le leng;
o re tshwarele melato ya rona,
jwalokaha re tshwarela ba nang le melato ho rona;
o se ke wa re isa molekong;
o mpe o re lwele ho e mobe;
[hobane mmuso ke wa hao, le matla, le kganya ka ho se feleng.
Thapelo ya Morena
Rara wa rona yo o kwa legodimong
leina la gago a le itshepisiwe;
puso ya gago a e tle;
thato ya gago a e dirwe mo lefatsheng
jaaka kwa legodimong.
O re fe gompieno bogobe jwa rona jwa malatsi;
o re itshwarele dibe tsa rona
jaaka le rona re itshwarela ba ba re leofetsheng;
o se ka wa re isa mo thaelong
mme o re golole mo bosuleng.
Gonne bogosi ke jwa gao, le thata, le kgalalelo, ka bosenabokhutlo. Amen.)
Tapelo ya Mulena
Libizo lahao libe lelikenile
Kutahe mubuso wahao
Tato yahao ieziwe mwafasi sina ha ieziwe kwa lihalimu
Ulufe kacenu buhobe bwaluna, mo ulufelanga kazazi ni zazi
Uluswalele milatu yalunamu luswalelelea ni luna babalufoselize
Usikawalukenya mwa muliko kono ululamulele ku yamaswe
Kakuli mubuso ki wahao ni mata, ni kanya kamita ni mita Amen