Formal & Informal Shona
- May 18, 2021
- Posted by: Vambo Academy
- Category: Zimbabwe
The Shona language has been subject to various developments owing to influences from colonisation and globalisation. The language consists of formal and informal components. Understanding and making correct use of these language rules is important particularly when addressing elders or strangers.
Formal Shona is used when speaking to elders and mostly in the rural areas. This form is highly respectful and makes use of the ‘ma’ prefix and certain euphemisms in order to communicate.
Ma – used as a prefix for older people
Wa – used as a prefix for younger people or peers
Maswera sei? – How are you?
Waswera sei? – How are you?
Mufambe zvakanaka – Travel well
Ufambe zvakanaka – Travel well
Shonglish is an informal term used to describe shona words derived from english. Note that all Shona words end in vowels. This rule is carried out across shonglish words as they are given a vowel suffix of a, e, i, o or u.
Slang words have been coined or derived from existing Shona words. The latter are interpreted differently when used in a slang context. An example is the word Mudhara which means an old man. This word is usually spelt Mdhara in slang settings and is used as a term of endearment amongst males of any age group.
Shonglish and slang are mixed at times to create words with their own meanings. The word Mhomz is derived from the english word mom and is used to refer to a step-mother or a mother figure that is not of biological origin.
It is interesting to see a language transform with the times and the ease in which the changes are adopted in popular culture through music, jokes and current affairs updates. Though evolution is welcome, the traditional way of speaking is to be safeguarded.