On solutions for the defects of Tshivenḓa practical orthography

  • Nelson Mbulaheni Musehane


In Tshivenḓa, there are clear discrepancies between the written and spoken forms of words. This affects the writing and compilation of dictionaries because sometimes a trigraph such as tsh has two distinct pronunciations, namely [tʃh] and [tʃ’] as in mutshila [mutʃhiſa] (tail), and kutshila [k’utʃ’iſa] (small tail). Similar variance in the pronunciation of ts, namely [tsh] and [ts’], can also be observed in words like tsimbi [tshimbi] (iron, metal or bell) and kutsimbi [k’uts’imbi] (small iron, metal or small bell). The dissimilarities in the pronunciations of these sounds by individual speakers make some of the examples such as tswina [tshwina] (lizard) and kutswina [k’utsw’ina] (small lizard) confusing. Even among native speakers of the language, a number of Tshivenḓa speech sounds are often mispronounced as speakers tend to pronounce the same word differently.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117