“Let us take pride in our diversity of languages”

Date: 09 July 2015   Read: 3455

I refer to the letter published in the edition of 18 June 2015, referring to the use of the term 'muti' in our newspaper and the complaint that followed from Mr Godfrey Musoliwa.

Firstly, I do not see anything wrong in our newspaper using the word muti. Let us all admit that IsiZulu is South Africa's biggest language and that the language has regional influences not only in South Africa but in the whole of Southern Africa. IsiZulu words, together with Swahili,  are also found in the English dictionary where English words do not exist.

As a Tsonga speaker, my language has been highly influence by IsiZulu for centuries. One cannot speak Tsonga without uttering a Zulu influence word and that is a reality. Even if there are no statistics available, one could assume that about 30% of Xitsonga spoken words have been influenced by IsiZulu.

IsiZulu is not the only language in the world that influences other languages. In Europe, for example, the Spanish and Portuguese languages have influenced English in number of ways, for example, negro is a Spanish and Portuguese word and it means black.

For centuries, the United States of America (where English is the main language), has used the word negro to refer to black people (later known as African-American). The word negrowas used for centuries in the English-speaking world and was incorporated into the English language.

In South Africa, there is no language group that can escape the influence of the Zulu language. In conclusion, let us take pride in our diversity and promote the 'rainbow nation' by promoting the use of all our languages as we celebrate 21 years of democracy. - Makhosini Makhubele



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  • Avatar
    Fhatuwani Mavhandu 14 months ago

    I really do not want to know how the borrowing works, uri can we in Venda decide to borrow from KZN? The word that was used was wrong and these is now the nature with our youth, we turn to give Zulu a shine and neglect our own languages. the 50% mentioned in the letter will reduce if we all start using our own words.

    I sometimes believe we doing our best to teach our children that Tshivenda/Tsonga are not good enough...... Are we really trying to move Zulu into a national language? soon it will be built into our schools if we do not take a stand now.

    My language is Tshivenda, A hashu ndi Hasithumule and I guarantee you, there is no Zulus there hence I did not borrow any word from them.

    Take pride, make your language known. I want to see a day when a national anthem includes Tshivenda and Tsonga

    last edited by Fhatuwani Mavhandu on 2016-07-01 14:09:31
  • Avatar
    makhosini makhubele 2 years ago

    Dear Jeff
    There is no langauge in the world that can exist in an "Island", every langauge has a neigbhour and that is where the influence element comes from. Yes i agree with you that all South African langauges are equal before the law, but some other African languages are more dominant and influencial than others. Unfortunately for you, isiZulu is one of the most dominant and influencial language in South Africa and one of the largest on the African continent. It is assumed that more than 50% of black South Africans can understand isiZulu and can moderately speak it. Because of geographic reasons, Tshivenda has been influenced by Xitsonga and vice-verse. The word "lobola" is used on a daily basis by the Venda people and that word has been borrowed by the Vendas from the Tsonga language. This does not mean that the word does not exist in Tshivenda, it does but people prefer to use the word "lobola" because of its popularity in South Africa. In Xitsonga, the word brother or sister does not exist in our langauge and we therefore borrowed from the Zulus. You will hear Tsonga people says "Ku Njhani he Mfowethu" (how are you my brother) or "Ku nhjani daduwethu" (how are you my sister). I do not mean to say that Zulus are a superior langauge group. In conclusion, no langauge can exist in an Island, Tshivenda has not only being influenced by Xitsonga but has been influenced by the Sotho language group.

  • Avatar
    Jeffrey Mufhadi 2 years ago

    Makhosini, i dont buy your story. I am not influenced by any other language. I am influenced by my only language, which is Venda. If your Tsonga is influenced by Zulu, it is fine but do not generalised and insinuate as if the Zulu is superior to other South African languages. All languages are equal before our Constitution and we don't care about quantity.

    last edited by Jeffrey Mufhadi on 2015-08-12 08:32:27


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