Research Article

Standardised orthography challenges in class 5 and 6 prefixes and prepositions in Xitsonga

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 41, issue 1, 2021 , pages: 83–88
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2021.1902146
Author(s): Arnold Mushwana, South Africa


This article examines the use of prefixes and prepositions in classes 5 and 6 in Xitsonga. A qualitative approach was used to collect and analyse data. The focus group method was used to collect data through assigning some practical exercises to students enrolled for a BA degree in Xitsonga. Words studied were purposefully sampled from various prescribed Xitsonga schoolbooks and one monolingual Xitsonga dictionary. Though there is no specific rule that explicitly addresses the use of prefixes and prepositions, rules 4.1 (a), (b) and (c) of Milawu ya Matsalelo na Mapeletelo ya Xitsonga [Xitsonga Rules] were considered for analysis of the findings. The study identified three prefix challenges for the classes 5 and 6 nouns, namely (1) the class 5 words, which are used either with a prefix or with zero prefix, and (2) words which are classified either in classes 5 and 6 or 11/10, and lastly, (3) words with two syllables which start with the ri- syllable. The study found that there is no consistency in the use of the preposition for class 6. The article proposes rules that can be followed to standardise the use of prefixes and prepositions for the classes under investigations. It is recommended that the rule identified in the study be considered when revising the Xitsonga spelling rules and orthography booklet.

Get new issue alerts for South African Journal of African Languages