This means “I am learning Ndau”—the local language here in this part of Sofala. All of my colleagues speak and communicate in Portuguese—and most of them have their own mother tongues as well, depending on where they are from—but Ndau is the first language of the majority of my students, and some people I encounter walking around or at the market have very little Portuguese.
Two of my ninth grade students wrote down some phrases for me, and I’ve been working on the greetings when I passear around town. The majority of languages in Mozambique are Bantu languages, and Ndau is especially close to Shona, which is spoken in Zimbabwe. Because of the Zimbabwean influence, Ndau has some words that are comically close to English. For example, “skirt” is skirte and “spoon” is spoone. But otherwise the grammar and vocabulary sound incredibly foreign to me and it feels like they go in one ear and out the other.
You can learn Ndau, too!:
Ndiri cuenda cubazar ¬– I am going to the market
Ndiri cussamba ¬¬¬– I am taking a bath
nhuma ¬– house
chamuare – friend
ngoma – music