Ethnologue: Areas: Africa

Zimbabwe

11,352,000 (1995). Republic of Zimbabwe. Formerly Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia. Literacy rate 49% to 76%; 40% (1977 C. M. Brann). Also includes Europeans 90,000, possibly Bemba. Information mainly Voegelin and Voegelin 1977, Ruhlen 1987. Data accuracy estimate: A2, B. Christian, traditional religion, secular, Muslim. Blind population 15,000 (1982 WCE). Deaf institutions: 6. The number of languages listed for Zimbabwe is 20. Of those, 19 are living languages and 1 is a second language with no mother tongue speakers.

AFRIKAANS [AFK] 6,365,000 or more in all countries. Also in South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. Indo-European, Germanic, West, Continental, Low, Dutch. Spoken by immigrants from South Africa. Language of wider communication. Bible 1933-1983. NT 1941-1980. Bible portions 1893-1907.

ENGLISH [ENG] 375,490 in Zimbabwe (1969 census); 322,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Indo-European, Germanic, West, North Sea, English. Spoken by most Europeans and an increasing number of Africans. Used in all or most education, most newspapers. National language. Bible 1535-1989. NT 1525-1985. Bible portions 1530-1987.

FANAGOLO (FANAKALO, FANEKOLO, "KITCHEN KAFFIR", MINE KAFFIR, PIKI, ISIPIKI, "ISIKULA", LOLOLO, ISILOLOLO, PIDGIN BANTU) [FAO] Several hundred thousand speakers (1975 Reinecke). Also in South Africa, Zambia, Zaïre, and Namibia. Pidgin, Zulu based. Dialect: CHILAPALAPA. Used widely in towns and mining areas. About 70% of the vocabulary comes from Zulu, 24% from English, 6% from Afrikaans. Influenced by Shona in Zimbabwe. Trade language. Second language only. No mother tongue speakers.

GUJARATI [GJR] 19,000 in Zimbabwe (1993); 44,000,000 in all countries. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Gujarati. Hindu. Bible 1823-1994. NT 1820-1985. Bible portions 1809-1965.

HIECHWARE (CHWARE, SARWA, SESARWA SESARWA, TSHUWAU, HAITSHUWAU) [HIE] 1,600 in Zimbabwe (1972 Barrett); 3,000 in Botswana (1976 Johnstone); 4,600 in all countries. Primarily Botswana. Khoisan, Southern Africa, Central, Tshu-Khwe, Northeast. Kwe-Etshori, Hiotshuwau, and Hiechware are three separate languages (Voegelin and Voegelin 1977.201). Nomadic. Traditional religion, Christian. Survey needed.

KALANGA (CHIKALANGA, KANANA, SEKALAÑA, KALANA, WESTERN SHONA, BAKAA, MAKALAKA, WAKALANGA) [KCK] 161,000 in Zimbabwe (1993 P. Johnstone); 160,000 in Botswana (1993 P. Johnstone); 321,000 in all countries. Southwest of Bulawayo and along the Botswana border. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Shona (S.10). Dialects: LILIMA (HUMBE, LIMIMA), NYAI (ABANYAI, BANYAI, WANYAI), PERI, TALAHUNDRA. Rapidly being absorbed by Ndebele, though most rural members speak Kalanga. In the fall of 1985 the government introduced Kalanga primers into schools in the Kalanga area. Bible portions 1904-1993. Work in progress.

KUNDA (CHIKUNDA, CIKUNDA) [KDN] 29,000 in Zimbabwe (1993 Johnstone); 3,258 in Mozambique (1980 census); 100,000 in all countries (1971 Welmers). Along the Mwazam'tanda River. Also in Zambia. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, N, Senga-Sena (N.40), Sena. Distinct from Kunda which is a dialect of Nyanja. Bible portions 1988. Work in progress.

LOZI (SILOZI, ROZI, ROZVI, TOZVI, ROTSE, RUTSE, KOLOLO) [LOZ] 70,000 in Zimbabwe (1982); 473,800 in Zambia (1993 Johnstone); 14,000 in Botswana (1993); 557,000 in all countries. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.30). Bible 1951-1987. NT 1925-1939. Bible portions 1922-1957.

MANYIKA (CHIMANYIKA, MANIKA, BAMANYEKA, WAMANYIKA, WANYIKA) [MXC] 348,350 in Zimbabwe (1969 census); 100,000 in Mozambique (1972 Barrett); 450,000 or more in all countries. Manicaland Province and adjacent areas, northeast of Umtali. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Shona (S.10). Dialects: BOCHA (BOKA), BUNJI, BVUMBA, DOMBA, GUTA, HERE, HUNGWE, JINDWI, KAROMBE, NYAMUKA, NYATWE, TEVE (WATEVE, VATEVE), UNYAMA. A little more divergent from Shona than Karanga, Zezuru, and Korekore. At least partially intelligible with Shona. NT 1908. Bible portions 1903-1922.

NAMBYA (CHINAMBYA, NANZVA, NAMBZYA) [NMQ] 64,000 (1993 P. Johnstone). South, Mashonaland Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Shona (S.10). Closest to Kalanga, but unintelligible without several weeks of living together. 'Nanzva' is the Ndebele name for Nambya. Bible portions 1961. Work in progress.

NDAU (CHINDAU, NDZAWU, NJAO, SOUTHEAST SHONA, SOFALA) [NDC] 391,000 in Zimbabwe (1991); 109,000 in Mozambique (1991); 500,000 in all countries (1991 UBS). South of Umtali, Melsetter and adjacent areas. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Shona (S.10). Dialect: CHANGA (CHICHANGA, CHIXANGA, SHANGA). Close to Manyika, and much more divergent from Union Shona. In the fall of 1985 the government introduced Ndau primers into schools in the Ndau area. Traditional religion, Christian. Bible 1957. NT 1919-1956. Bible portions 1910-1989. Work in progress.

NDEBELE (TABELE, TEBELE, ISINDE'BELE, SINDEBELE, NORTHERN NDEBELE) [NDF] 1,485,000 (1993 Johnstone); 17,000 in Botswana (1993 Johnstone). Matabeleland, around Bulawayo. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Nguni (S.40). One of the main languages of Zimbabwe. Close to Zulu. Different from Ndebele of Transvaal, South Africa, which is related to Northern Sotho. 55% literacy rate. Bible 1978. NT 1884-1986. Bible portions 1884-1968.

NSENGA (CHINSENGA, SENGA) [NSE] 16,100 in Zimbabwe (1969 census); 427,000 in Zambia (1993 Johnstone); 141,000 in Mozambique (1993 Johnstone); 584,000 in all countries. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, N, Senga-Sena (N.40), Senga. Distinct from Senga dialect of Tumbuka of Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania. NT 1923. Bible portions 1919-1943.

NYANJA (CHINYANJA) [NYJ] 251,800 in Zimbabwe (1969 census); 989,000 in Zambia (1993 Johnstone); 3,200,000 in Malawi (1993 Johnstone); 423,000 in Mozambique (1993 Johnstone); 5,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Some also in Tanzania. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, N, Nyanja (N.30). Bible 1905-1973. NT 1886-1960. Bible portions 1891-1964.

SHONA ("SWINA", CHISHONA) [SHD] 6,225,000 in Zimbabwe (1989) including 2,250,000 Karanga (1993 Johnstone), 300,000 Korekore (1993 Johnstone), 1,800,000 Zezuru (1993 Johnstone), 1,262,870 Shona; 759,923 in Mozambique (1980 census); 15,000 Goba (Korekore) in Zambia; 7,000,000 in all countries (1990 UBS). Mashonaland, central. Also in Malawi. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Shona (S.10). Dialects: KARANGA (CHIKARANGA), ZEZURU (CHIZEZURU), KOREKORE (NORTHERN SHONA, GOBA, GOVA). Ndau and Manyika are partially intelligible with Shona. "Swina" is a derogatory name. Shona is the dominant African language of Zimbabwe and is understood by a considerable number. It is primarily a written language apparently based chiefly on Karanga and Zezuru with lexical items also from Manyika and Korekore. Subdialects: Karanga: Duma, Jena, Mhari (Mari), Ngova, Nyubi, Govera; Korekore: Budya, Gova, Tande, Tavara, Nyongwe, Pfunde, Shan Gwe; Zezuru: Shawasha, Gova, Mbire, Tsunga, Kachikwakwa, Harava, Nohwe, Njanja, Nobvu, Kwazwimba (Zimba); Shona: Toko, Hwesa. Rozvi (Rozwi, Ruzwi, Chirozwi) speak Karanga dialect and do not have their own language. They are dispersed over many areas of the country. Used in primary education, mother tongue authored literature. Dictionary. Typology: SVO. Braille Bible portions. Bible 1949-1980. NT 1907, in press (1993). Bible portions 1897-1994.

TONGA (CHITONGA, ZAMBEZI) [TOI] 112,000 in Zimbabwe (1993 Johnstone); 990,000 in Zambia (1993 Johnstone); 3,000 to 6,000 in Botswana (1993 Johnstone); 1,105,000 in all countries. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, M, Lenje-Tonga (M.60), Tonga. Dialects: CHITONGA, LEYA, TOKA, WE. Dialects or closely related languages: Lundwe, Mala. Different from ChiTonga of Malawi or Tonga of Mozambique. Bible 1963, in press (1996). NT 1949-1989. Bible portions 1911-1957.

TSWA (SHITSWA, KITSWA, XITSWA, SHEETSWA) [TSC] (695,212 in Mozambique; 1980 census). South. Also South Africa, primarily Mozambique. Hlengwe is in Zimbabwe. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Tswa-Ronga (S.50). Dialects: HLENGWE (MAKAKWE-KHAMBANA), TSWA (DZIBI-DZONGA). It may constitute one language with Ronga and Tsonga. Bible 1910-1955. NT 1903-1928. Bible portions 1891-1908.

TSWANA (CHUANA, SECHUANA, COANA, CUANA, TSHWANA, BEETJUANS, CHWANA) [TSW] 29,350 in Zimbabwe (1969 census); 11,300 in Namibia; 1,070,000 in Botswana (1993 Johnstone); 2,822,000 in South Africa (1995 The Economist); 3,932,000 in all countries. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.30), Tswana. Dialects: NGWATU (MANGWATO), TLHAPING. Spoken by the Bakaka. Bible 1857-1993. NT 1840-1994. Bible portions 1830-1966.

VENDA (CHIVENDA, CEVENDA, TSHIVENDA) [VEN] 84,000 in Zimbabwe (1989); 666,000 in South Africa (1995 The Economist); 750,000 in all countries. South-southeast along South Africa border. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Venda (S.20). Dialects: PHANI, TAVHATSINDI. Traditional religion, Christian. Braille Bible portions. Bible 1936, in press (1996). NT 1923-1989. Bible portions 1920-1989.

ZIMBABWE SIGN LANGUAGE [ZIB] Deaf sign language. Dialects: ZIMBABWE SCHOOL SIGN, MASVINGO SCHOOL SIGN, ZIMBABWE COMMUNITY SIGN. Deaf people go to different schools, each using a different sign language. There have been elementary schools for deaf children since the 1940's. The Ministry of Education has pushed to open more spaces for deaf students in special classes in local schools. The sign language used in Masvingo is different from that used in other schools. The sign language used in schools and that used by adults outside is different. It is not clear if they are inherently intelligible to each other. There is some desire for standardization among educators. There are rumors of relationships to sign languages from Germany, Ireland, Australia, England, South Africa. There is a manual alphabet used for spelling English, possibly related to that in South Africa. The deaf community is quite strong in terms of individual identity. They live their lives around deaf social networks and activities. Literacy in English is better among some deaf people than others, but generally limited. It is quite limited in Shona, mainly known by those from Masvingo. News is signed on TV. There is little research on the sign language. Called 'ZIMSIGN' by some people. Survey needed.


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Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
Copyright © 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc. All rights reserved.

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