In a mesmerizing and educational video, Sakhile Dube teaches the click sounds found in the languages of the Nguni people native to South Africa. The tour guide, who grew up in the southeast province of KwaZulu-Natal, explains how each of these sounds equates to certain letters in the English alphabet. He also demonstrates how they are used with different names and words.
Although the click sounds in these languages seem like a unique attribute, that's not quite the case. English speakers use some of these clicks or similar ones, just as expressive sounds rather than words. There's “tsk tsk” to expressive disapproval, for example, or the “tchick” made with the cheek to spur on a horse. The “clip-clop” sound used to imitate a horse trotting is also an example of a click sound.
The sounds that Dube demonstrates in the video are found in the languages of the Nguni people, which are made up of four groups who all communicate with each other. They are Xhosa in the Eastern Cape, the Zulu in KwaZulu-Natal, the Ndebele in Mpumalanga, and the Swazi in Eswatini.
The intricate clicks that comprise part of this smooth, percussive language are fascinating to hear. Dube himself has a golden voice that makes all his videos a joy to watch. Check out the video below to hear his explanation of click sounds, and visit Safari and Surf's YouTube channel to watch more videos about South Africa's languages, culture, and nature.