On solutions for the defects of Tshivenḓa practical orthography

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 39, issue 3, 2019 , pages: 223–227
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2019.1618018
Author(s): Nelson Mbulaheni MusehaneDepartment of African Languages, South Africa


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.

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