Shona languages

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Zimbabwe, Mozambique
Linguistic classificationNiger–Congo

The Shona languages are a clade of Bantu languages coded Zone S.10 in Guthrie's classification. According to Nurse & Philippson (2003), the languages form a valid node. They are:

Eastern Shona group

Ndau (S.15)

Central Shona group

Korekore (S.11) and Tawara
Zezuru (S.12)
Manyika (S.13) and Tewe
Karanga (S.14)

Western Shona group

Kalanga (S.16)

In the 1920s, the Rhodesian administration was faced with the challenge of preparing schoolbooks and other materials in the various languages and dialects and requested the recommendation of the South African linguist Clement Doke. Based on his 1931 report, Standard Shona was developed from the Central Shona varieties. Because of the presence of the capital city in the Zezuru region, that variety has come to dominate in Standard Shona.

Some classifications include this Shona group with the other Zone S languages as Southern Bantu.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Shona (S.10)". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  • Doke, Clement M. Report on the Unification of the Shona Dialects. Government of Southern Rhodesia: Government Blue Book, 1931.
  • Nurse & Philippson (2003), The Bantu Languages.