An oxymoronic dedication to knowledge: I skipped my math class to get this done.

There are three languages, not including English, used in the music of The Lion King, and they are mostly confined to South Africa, and stretching into other countries. the languages are

  1. Sesotho
  2. Setswana
  3. isiZulu

I'll work my way through the list differently than how they appear above, due to the amount of occurence of each language in the music. and keep in mind that by The Lion King, I am refering to anything Lion King related that is owned/copyrighted/produced by Disney.

First, we have Zulu, known as isiZulu to it's speakers, and spoken primarily in the kwaZulu-Natal province, sparsely through Gauteng (note: The Gauteng province is an urbanized area with a mix of all languages.), and less so throughout the rest of South Africa.Zulu, as are the rest of these languages, is a click language, consisting of three main click sounds, written as "c", "x", and "q". These clicks can fall either at the beginning of a word, or between vowel sounds, and can be mixed with other letters to creat different click sounds. Clicks can be changed by proceeding the click with a "g" (voiced), following the click with an "h" (aspirated), or by proceeding the click with an "n" (nasalized). To my best recollection, the "c" click is not used in any of the music of The Lion King, however "x" and "q" are present.

Some Zulu lyrics in The Lion King

(Circle of Life Reprise, TLKoB)
Is'khathi sifikile
Is'khathi sifikile
Busa Simba
Busa Simba

(Circle of Life, TLK) Sizo nqoba baba!


Sesotho is the official language of the land-locked country Lesotho, and spoken in the Free State and Gauteng provinces of South Africa (Gauteng is a Sesotho name that means "Place of Gold"). Sotho, like Zulu, is a click language, though only consisting of I believe one click: "q". This click has the same sound as the Zulu click "q", and occurs either alone, or nasalized (I haven't seen any other changes made to it). Sesotho (Southern Sotho) should not be confused with it's relative Nesotho (Northern Sotho), which is a similar, and yet very different, language that is not used in The Lion King.

Some Sesotho lyrics in The Lion King

(Lea Halalela, RoTPL)
Fatshe leso
Lea halalela

(Lala, RoTPL) Wo, mta ka mama wam
...
Motswalle waka
ngwana mme


Setswana is actually spoken primarily in the country of Botswana, though in parts of northern South Africa, primarily in the North-West province, and again, in the Gauteng province. Setswana (rarely refered to by speakers as just "Tswana"), is also a click language, with only one click (that I know of). This click is written as "q", but sounds like the Zulu "c". Setswana is one of the hardest languages to find information on, and inso, I don't have much to offer on it.

Some Setswana lyrics in The Lion King

The entire song "I Want to See the Moon", from RtPR (actually from Deeper Meaning), except for the English lyrics.