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Tshivenda

b2ap3_thumbnail_Blog_38.jpgBackground

Venda, also known as Tshivenḓa or Luvenḓa, is an official language of South Africa. The majority of Tshivenda speakers live in the northern part of South Africa's Limpopo and Northern Provinces, with about 10% of Tshivenda speakers living in the most southern part of Zimbabwe. The total number of Tshivenda speakers in South Africa is estimated at around 1.2 million people or just 2.2% of South Africa's population, making Tshivenda the second smallest minority language in South Africa.

While other African languages have been promoted in media such as TV and newspapers, Tshivenda is still greatly marginalised. Even though there is little use of the language as medium of instruction at schools, the majority of the members of this community are proud of their culture and usage of the language. A great achievement for the language was the release of Elelwani, the first Tshivenda language film, in 2013.

Status and growth

Although Tshivenda is mainly regarded as a language isolate, it has a strong literary tradition. The literary works in the language include poetry, drama, novels, short stories, essays, the Bible, Hymn Book, works on traditional literature, grammar manuals and dictionaries. In education Tshivenda is used as the teaching medium of instruction in junior primary schools, i.e. Grade 1 to Grade 3. Here is a wonderful opportunity exists to invest in the translation of children’s books – especially readers.

Another point of interest is the fact that Tshivenda is used in business and labour relations both in spoken and written form. As one of the official languages, business people and the administration of the Northern Province correspond using Tshivenda. Some of the workers in the region are monolingual and they can only communicate through using Tshivenda.

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