Article

Spell it the way you like: The inconsistencies that prevail in the spelling of Northern Sotho loanwords

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 40, issue 1, 2020 , pages: 130–138
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2020.1733838
Author(s): Sekgaila ChokoeDepartment of Languages, School of Languages and Communication Studies, South Africa

Abstract

A scrutiny of Northern Sotho Terminology and Orthography No. 4 of 1988 (T&O) and a survey of some Northern Sotho dictionaries make one wonder if rules are always followed in the lemmatisation of Northern Sotho loanwords. Northern Sotho, like any other language, has rules governing its spelling and orthography, thanks to T&O. The T&O and other editions of Northern Sotho terminology and orthography tried to dictate and explain the spelling and orthography rules to be followed in the writing of Northern Sotho words (native and adopted words). The spelling rules laid down are sometimes contradictory. This article shows the inconsistencies that prevail in the spelling of some Northern Sotho loanwords, arguing that some of these words are not fully adapted to the Northern Sotho spelling orthography. Writing a ‘sotho-ised’ version of a foreign word is not that simple; rules are sometimes broken (or rather bent) to suit the writer. Most of the data comes from the Northern Sotho Terminology and Orthography No. 4 of 1988 and Northern Sotho dictionaries.

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