The Language of Ethnic Contempt: Malawian-Zimbabwean-Shona Rivalry

  • P Mashiri


The contact between the Shona and immigrants from Malawi dates back to more than six decades ago. Throughout this period, the ethnic relations of the two groups have been represented in fiction, drama and popular music as antagonistic. However, very little has been said about how these two ethnic groups express their attitudes towards each other through language, in particular, the names or labels that they use. This paper argues that the relations of the two groups have been largely antagonistic and are covertly or overtly reflected in the language that members of the groups use to refer or to name or label each other. This article demonstrates that names or labels both groups use to contemptuously refer to or name (insult) each other derive from the socio-cultural and historical context. These names or labels reflect the groups’ disapproval of and stereotypical attitudes towards each other.


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eISSN: 0379-0622