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About the Shona Language and Dialects

Misodzi Sithole wrote to me about the Shona language...

The word Shona was infact a term created to describe a group of related dialects namely Zezuru, Karanga, Manyika, Ndau and Korekore. Before then, and even now, many self identify using their dialectical identity rather than the word Shona. Likewise I tend to identify myself as a muNdau (Ma- or VaNdau [plural]) although for official documents I would list Shona as the other language spoken.

Some may prefix all the dialects with the Syllable /Chi- / so that Ndau is also known as ChiNdau and so forth.

Ndau or ChiNdau, because of the area being once ruled by the Shangani originally from South Africa at a point in history, also has an interesting fusion of words that are in some related South African languages. For example the -l-; -hl- found in certain Ndau words are not found in other Shona dialects and do not appear in the Standard Shona dictionary. To the outsider, it may be hard for them to understand when one speaks ChiNdau.

However, the same can be said about words that are unique to the different dialects. I was just fortunate that I had the opportunity to study the dialects.

Thanks for documenting this for posterity.

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