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Acta Theologica

On-line version ISSN 2309-9089
Print version ISSN 1015-8758

Acta theol. vol.29  suppl.12 Bloemfontein  2009


Missionary interventions in Zulu religious practices: The term for the Supreme Being



M.R. Masubelele

Department of African Languages, University of South Africa, PO Box 392, UNISA, 0003. Pretoria, South Africa. E-mail:




The traditional Zulu people conducted their religious practices orally and in their appeals to a Supreme Being used the terms uNkulunkulu (the Great-Great-One) or uMvelinqangi (the First-to-Appear) interchangeably. However, with the translation of the Bible into isi-Zulu, the concept of the Supreme Being that was originally known by the Zulu people was changed and cast into a Christian mould. This paper explains these interventions in terms of Toury's work. By using a corpus-based approach, the linguistic choices of the translators will be analysed to demonstrate that the earliest translators adopted the norms of the source text and culture, while in the latest translations the norms of the target culture were adhered to.

Keywords: Corpus-based translation studies, Supreme Being, uNkulunkulu, uThixo

Trefwoorde: Korpus-gebaseerde vertaalkunde, Opperwese, uNkulunkulu, uThixo



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