Venda

Venda

Venda, also known as Tshivenḓa or Luvenḓa, is a Bantu language and an official language of South Africa. The majority of Venda speakers live in the northern part of South Africa's Limpopo Province, but about 10% of its speakers live in Zimbabwe. The Venda language is related to Kalanga (Western Shona, different from Shona, official language of Zimambwe) which is spoken in Botswana and Zimbabwe. During the Apartheid era of South Africa, the bantustan of Venda was set up to cover the Venda speakers of South Africa.

Writing system

The Venda language uses the Latin alphabet with five additional accented letters—there are four dental consonants with circumflex below the letter (ḓ, ḽ, ṋ, ṱ) and an overdot for velar ṅ. Five vowel letters are used to write seven vowels. The letters C, J and Q are used only in quoting foreign words and names.

The Venda alphabet
A a B b (C c) D d Ḓ ḓ E e F f G g  
H h I i (J j) K k L l Ḽ ḽ M m N n  
Ṋ ṋ Ṅ ṅ O o P p (Q q) R r S s T t  
Ṱ ṱ U u V v W w X x Y y Z z  

Venda distinguishes dental ṱ, ṱh, ḓ, ṋ, ḽ from alveolar t, th, d, n, l, as well as (like Ewe) labiodental f, v from bilabial fh, vh (the latter are slightly rounded). There are no clicks; x has the sound of ch in loch or Bach. As in other South African languages like Zulu, ph, ṱh, th, kh are aspirated, p, ṱ, t, k ejective.

  t̪ʰ     kʷʰ  
  t̪ʼ     pʷʼ  
b   d   ɡ  
  pfʰ   tsʰ tsʷʰ tʃʰ      
  bv   dz dzʷ      
ɸ f   s ʃ x   h
β v   z ʒ      
m   n   ɲ ŋ ŋʷ  
    l          
      r          
          j   w  

There is fortition of /ɸ β s ʃ x h l̪ l r w/ after nasal prefixes, likely to [pʰ? b tsʰ tʃʰ kʰ? pʰ d̪ d d b].

letter(s) value(s) in IPA notes
a [a], [ɔ]  
b [b]  
bv [b̪v]  
bw [bɣw] or [bj] Varies by dialect
d [d]  
dz [d͡z]  
dzh [d͡ʒ] Similar to English "j"
dzw [d͡zw]  
[d̪]  
e [ɛ], [e]  
f [f]  
fh [ɸ]  
g [ɡ]  
h [ɦ], [h] Pronounced [h] before e.
hw [ɣw]  
i [i]  
k [kˀ]  
kh [kʰ]  
khw [kʰw]  
l [ɭ]  
[l̪]  
m [m], [m̩] M is syllabic, [m̩], when the following syllable begins with m.
n [n], [n̩] N is syllabic, when the following syllable begins with n.
ng [ŋɡ]  
ny [ɲ]  
nz [nd͡z]  
[n̪]  
[ŋ]  
ṅw [ŋw]  
o [ɔ], [o]  
p [pˀ]  
ph [pʰ]  
pf [p̪f]  
pfh [p̪fʰ]  
r [ɾ]  
s [s]  
sh [ʃ]  
sw [ʂ]  
t [tˀ]  
th [tʰ]  
ts [t͡s]  
tsh [t͡ʃʰ]  
tsw [t͡sw]  
ty [c]  
[t̪]  
ṱh [t̪h]  
u [u]  
v [v]  
vh [β]  
w [w]  
x [x] Similar to the ch in Scottish 'loch.'
xw [xw]  
y [j]  
z [z]  
zh [ʒ]  
zw [ʐ]  

Tone

Venda has a single specified tone, HIGH, with unmarked syllables having a low tone. Phonetic falling tone occurs, but only in sequences of more than one vowel, or on the penultimate syllable, where the vowel is long. Tone patterns exist independently of the consonants and vowels of a word: that is, they are word tones. Venda tone also follows Meeussen's rule: when a word beginning with a high tone is preceded by that high tone, the initial high tone is lost. (That is, there cannot be two adjacent marked high tones in a word, though high tone spreads allophonically to a following non-tonic ("low"-tone) syllable.) There are only a handful of tone patterns in Venda words—no tone, a single high tone on some syllable, two non-adjacent high tones—which behave as follows:

Word Pattern After L After H Notes
thamana –.–.– thàmà:nà thámâ:nà Unmarked (low) tone is raised after a high tone. That is, the preceding tone spreads.
dukaná –.–.H dùkà:ná dúkâ:ná A preceding high tone spreads, but drops before the final high tone.
danána –.H.– dàná:nà dánâ:nà The pitch peaks on the tonic syllable; a preceding non-adjacent high tone merges into it
phaphána –.H.– phàphá:ná pháphâ:nà
mádzhie H.– má:dzhíè mâ:dzhìè Initial high tone spreads; with an immediately preceding high tone, that initial tone is lost.
(The preceding tone also spreads, but not as far.)
dákalo H.–.– dáká:lò dákà:lò
khókholá H.–.H khókhô:lá khókhò:lá

Unicode

The extra letters have the following Unicode names

  • Ḓ U+1E12 LATIN CAPITAL LETTER D WITH CIRCUMFLEX BELOW
  • ḓ U+1E13 LATIN SMALL LETTER D WITH CIRCUMFLEX BELOW
  • Ḽ U+1E3C LATIN CAPITAL LETTER L WITH CIRCUMFLEX BELOW
  • ḽ U+1E3D LATIN SMALL LETTER L WITH CIRCUMFLEX BELOW
  • Ṅ U+1E44 LATIN CAPITAL LETTER N WITH DOT ABOVE
  • ṅ U+1E45 LATIN SMALL LETTER N WITH DOT ABOVE
  • Ṋ U+1E4A LATIN CAPITAL LETTER N WITH CIRCUMFLEX BELOW
  • ṋ U+1E4B LATIN SMALL LETTER N WITH CIRCUMFLEX BELOW
  • Ṱ U+1E70 LATIN CAPITAL LETTER T WITH CIRCUMFLEX BELOW
  • ṱ U+1E71 LATIN SMALL LETTER T WITH CIRCUMFLEX BELOW
  • Recommend Us