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Shona language resources

Shona is spoken on a daily basis in: Mozambique, Zimbabwe Shona--> --> --> -->

Additional background on Shona

Shona (or ChiShona) is a native language of Zimbabwe; the term is also used to identify those Kintu speaking peoples in Southern Africa who speak one of the Shona languages. Shona proper is an official language of Zimbabwe, along with Ndebele and English. Numbering about 6,225,000 (SIL 1989), Shona speakers comprise more than 80% of Zimbabwe's population. Shona is also spoken by a substantial number of residents of Mozambique. Other countries that host Shona language speakers are Zambia and Botswana. The total number of Shona speakers is at least 7,000,000 (UBS 1990).

Shona is a written standard language with an orthography and grammar that was codified during the early 20th century and fixed in the 1950s. The first novel in Shona, Solomon Mutswairo's Feso, was published in 1957. It is taught in the schools but is not the general medium of instruction in other subjects. It has a literature and is described through monolingual and bilingual dictionaries (chiefly Shona - English). Modern Shona is based on the dialect spoken by the Karanga people of Masvingo Province, the region around Great Zimbabwe, and Zezuru people of central and northern Zimbabwe. However, all Shona dialects are officially considered to be of equal significance and are taught in local schools.

Shona is a member of the large family of Bantu languages. In Guthrie's zonal classification of Bantu languages, zone S10 designates a dialect continuum of closely related varieties, including Shona proper, Manyika, Nambya, and Ndau, spoken in Zimbabwe and central Mozambique; Tawara and Tewe, found in Mozambique; and Ikalanga of Botswana.

Shona speakers most likely moved into present day Zimbabwe during the great Bantu expansion.

Shona has five vowels: a, e, i, o, u and has a rich consonant inventory, whose peculiarity probably features with "whistling sounds" transcribed as "zv", possibly one of the most frequent (id.e. zvakanaka, very well), "dzv", "sv" and "tsv" . It is a tonal language - tone being left out of the spelling.


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