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Tswa–Ronga languages

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Linguistic classificationNiger–Congo?

The Tswa–Ronga languages (or just Tsonga) are a group of closely related Southern Bantu languages spoken in Southern Africa chiefly in southern Mozambique, northeastern South Africa and southeastern Zimbabwe.[citation needed]


The group is divided into three main languages:[1]

  • Tswa–Ronga
    • Tswa (Xitswa): Hlengwe (Khambana-Makwakwe, Khambani, Lengwe, Lhengwe, Makwakwe-Khambana, Shilengwe), Tshwa (Dzibi-Dzonga, Dzivi, Dzonga-Dzibi, Xidzivi), Mandla, Ndxhonge, Nhayi. Partially intelligible with Ronga [rng] and Tsonga [tso].[2]
    • Ronga (Xironga): Konde, Putru, Kalanga. Partially intelligible with Tsonga [tso] and Tswa [tsc].[3]
    • Tsonga (Xitsonga): Luleke (Xiluleke), Gwamba (Gwapa), Changana (Xichangana), Hlave, Kande, N’walungu (Shingwalungu), Xonga (Ssonga), Jonga (Dzonga), Nkuna, Songa, Nhlanganu (Shihlanganu).[4]

"Tsonga" is used to refer to all three languages,[citation needed] although often used interchangeably with Changana, the most prestigious of the three. All are recognized as languages, although inherently intelligible.[4] The group also contains a variety of other minority languages and dialects which are undocumented and exist in an unwritten form.[citation needed]

Writing system[edit]

The sintu writing system, Ditema tsa Dinoko (also known in Zulu as Isibheqe Sohlamvu), for Southern Bantu languages, is used to represent all Tswa-Ronga languages consistently under one orthography.[5] This includes those marginal languages that have never been standardised in the Latin alphabet, such as the "East Sotho" varieties (Pulana, Khutswe and Pai). For example, it contains a specific grapheme indicating retroflex or "cerebral" consonants, such as the retroflex ejective affricate occurring here in Pai:

English place
HiPai itzau


  1. ^ "Ethnologue report for Tswa-Ronga (S.50)". Archive.ethnologue.com. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  2. ^ "Tswa". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  3. ^ "Ronga". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  4. ^ a b "Tsonga". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  5. ^ isibheqe.org (2015). "Isibheqe Sohlamvu/Ditema tsa Dinoko". isibheqe.org.