The Effects of Shona Language Change on Monolingual Lexicography: The Need for a Revised Alphabet

  • W Zivenge
  • G Mheta
  • M Kadenge


In this article, the phenomenon of Shona language change, its effects on lexicography and the need for a revised alphabet are discussed. Because of the defective Shona alphabet, lexicographers at the African Languages Research Institute (ALRI) encountered problems in handling some words that were potential headwords in dictionaries they were compiling under the ALLEX project. The current Shona alphabet is unable to realize quite a number of sounds and morphemes in lexical items in everyday use by the native Shona speakers, because they are alien loanwords. The article was prompted by the challenges encountered during the compilation of Duramazwi reMimhanzi (Shona Musical Terms Dictionary). It shows how language change accounts for the problem of headword selection and how modifying the current alphabet can enhance monolingual Shona lexicographical work vis-à-vis the development of the Shona language. It therefore stresses the need for a revised alphabet so as to solve orthographical problems during dictionary compilation. Keywords: Language Change, Allex, Lexicon, Segment, Suprasegment, Alphabet, Lexicography, Assimilation, Borrowing, Adoption, Articulation, Sounds

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-0039
print ISSN: 1684-4904