UNESCO WORLD LANGUAGES REPORT SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE
Date of completion May/ 12 / 2000
Name: Munzhedzi James
Institution belonged to: National Language
Service Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology
Address: Private Bag X195 Pretoria, 0001, South Africa
Telephone: 27 12 337 8366
Fax: 27 12 324 2119
Details of language
Glotonym or name of language on which you
are providing data:
Autoglotonym (name given to the language by native speakers): Tshivenda
Heteroglotonym (name given by the non-native community to the language): Venda
What language group does the language belong
Family: Bantu Languages
Group: South-eastern Bantu
Subgroup: No subgroup
(Only study guide for VEN305-J, UNISA)
What type of language is it?
The Venda people have, historically, consistently had a multiplicity of culturally different tribal groups who speak the Venda language. Hence this language has a number of varieties: Tshiphani, Tshiilafuri, Tshimandºa, Tshironga, Tshiguvhu, Tshimbedzi and Tshilembetu.
(Mulaudzi, P.A., 1999. A linguistic description of language varieties in Venda. D.Litt et Phil, Unisa)
This language exists in written form.
The language is standardised, with the Tshiphani variety used as standard language.
(Mulaudzi, P.A., 1999. A linguistic description of language varieties in Venda. D. Litt et Phil, Unisa)
Yes, the researcher considers himself as a member of this linguistic community because he belongs to the Tshiilafuri variety.
The language is predominantly spoken in the extreme north eastern corner of South Africa, in the Northern Province (86,5%). The linguistic community borders southern Zimbabwe in the north; in the north east it borders Kruger National Park and the Tsonga linguistic community; in the south and west it borders the Northern Sotho linguistic community. It is also spoken in the provinces of Gauteng (11,4%), North West (1,4%), Mpumalanga (0,4%), Free State (0,2%), Northern Cape (0,01%), Western Cape (0,05%), Eastern Cape (0,07%) and KwaZulu-Natal (0,08%).
(Poulos, G., 1990. A linguistic analysis of Venda. Pretoria: Via Afrika & Statistics South Africa Census 1996, table 2.11)
The geographical boundaries never changed over the years. Only the number of provinces, previously four, has been increased to nine after the democratic elections of 1994 in the country. The area where Venda is spoken has not changed. This area, where Venda is predominantly spoken, previously fell within the boundaries of the Transvaal province, but it now falls within the Northern Province, one of the four provinces (Gauteng, North West, Northern Province and Mpumalanga) into which the Transvaal was split.
In the south the area features mountains and wide valleys that receive abundant rainfall. The north is characterised by flat grasslands covering a large area of about 6 198 square km. (Northern Province, the area in which the Venda are concentrated)
(The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 12, 1992)
There are other languages spoken in the territory, namely Afrikaans (2,2%), English (0,4%), Northern Sotho (52,7%), Tsonga (22,6%), Ndebele (1,5%), Swati (1,2%), Tswana (1,4%), South Sotho (1,1%), Xhosa (0,2%) and Zulu 0,7%). Venda accounts for 15,4%.
(Own knowledge & Statistics South Africa Census 1996, table 2.8)
The territory where the language is spoken belongs to the state of South Africa.
The total number of inhabitants in South Africa is 40 583 573. The total number of inhabitants of the territory where Venda speakers are concentrated is 4 929 368 (Northern Province only).
(Statistics South Africa 2000 [Stats in brief])
Understand 943 661 (All provinces included)
Speak 943 661 (All provinces included)
Read 368 091 (All provinces included)
Write 368 091 (All provinces included)
(The figures were calculated from the AMPS Language Ability Claims 1994 which tested the literacy of adults (16+) Venda speakers as plus-minus 70%.)
(Statistics South Africa Census 1996 & AMPS Language Ability Claims 1994)
Use this space to draw a map or sketch of the territory where this language is spoken.
The questions on monolingualism, bilingualism and multilingualism are difficult to answer, especially for Venda. Very little research has been done for Venda alone. It is well known that Venda and Tsonga speakers are highly multilingual, because of the minority status of the languages. It can be expected that monolingualism would correlate with younger ages, low education levels and living in remote rural areas.
The majority of adults in the Northern Province would at least be bilingual; they can speak Venda and at least one of the five official languages in the Northern Province: Northern Sotho, Tsonga, Afrikaans and English). No exact percentage is known, but it can be expected that percentages would approximate 100% in the urban areas of Gauteng.
(Statistics South Africa Census 1996)
Similarly, the majority of Venda speaking adults in the Northern Province can speak Venda, another African language and either English or Afrikaans. Knowledge of English and Afrikaans would correlate with at least some primary schooling and living in urban areas, although it is expected that farm workers would also have a speaking knowledge of English and/or Afrikaans. No exact numbers are known, but it can be expected that percentages would approximate 100% in the urban areas of Gauteng.
(Statistics South Africa Census 1996)
The speakers of this language are dispersed throughout the territory, i.e. the Northern Province, both in rural and urban areas.
The number of speakers of this language has been increasing over time; for example, the number of speakers of this language for the 1991 census is 751 683, while that of 1996 census is 876 456.
(Statistics South Africa Census)
The language is passed down from generation to generation. As a result there is no language replacing it.
|The people...||Elderly Men||Elderly Women||Adult Men||Adult Women||Young Men||Young Women||Boys||Girls|
Specify the frequency: 5 = always in this language; 4 = more in this language than others; 3 = equally often in either language; 2 = more in other languages than in this one; 1 = always in other languages.
Speakers of other languages speak this language, especially those who stay in the territory of the linguistic community, those who trade with the linguistic community and those who are involved in intermarriage with the linguistic community.
The policy of separate development affected the situation of this linguistic community. The linguistic community was proclaimed independent in 1979. This led to its isolation economically.
The apartheid government undermined the development of African Languages. The government did not fund the development of this language as it did with Afrikaans and English. This language was not used as one of the official languages. The migration of rural men to urban areas also threatened the future of the language because while in urban areas these people felt inferior to communicate in the language.
The language is currently threatened. While other African Languages are promoted in media such as TV and newspapers, the language is marginalised. There is also little use of the language as medium of instruction at schools.
The community, which speaks this language, is not in danger.
There is movement of people within the territory. Many people are moving from rural areas to urban areas because the Group Areas Act, which used to restrict their movement, has been abolished. Other people are moving out of the territory to other provinces because of the new dispensation initiated by the new democratically elected government. Civil servants are no more restricted to the territory; they can work anywhere in the nine provinces. Some people migrate to other provinces to practice trade.
The main economic activity of this linguistic community is agricultural (maize, peanuts, beans, sorghum, vegetation and fruits) and pastoral farming (cattle, goats, fowl and sheep). Another minor economic activity is the mining of copper and coal.
(Own knowledge and Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopaedia)
The traditional god of the linguistic community is N_wali who is considered the creator. He is the owner of the earth and provides for the people. However, this traditional religious belief of the community is being replaced by the Christian belief. The majority of the community are now Christians, although some mix the two religious beliefs.
(Own knowledge and Stayt, H.A., 1931. The Bavenda. London: Oxford University Press)
The language is one of the eleven official languages in South Africa. It is mostly used as an official language in the Northern Province where the majority of Venda people stay.
The language is in contact with the administration in the Northern Province. Its use in the administration is both in spoken and written form.
The language is used as a subject of study in senior primary schools, secondary schools and tertiary institutions. For example, the Department of Education’s subject statistics for senior certificate examinations in 1998 and 1999 show that Venda was registered as a subject by 18 173 and 15 683 candidates respectively. The language is used as the teaching medium of instruction in junior primary schools, i.e. Grade 1 to Grade 3. According to the Department of Education the use of Venda as medium of instruction is 1%. There is both the spoken and written use of the language in both the elementary and higher education.
(Own knowledge & Department of Education Statistics, December 1999)
The language is used in media such as radio (Radio Phalaphala), but not in television and newspapers.
This language is used in religious services and ceremonies in spoken and written form by Christians. The Bible and Hymn Book are written in Venda. The priest preaches his sermons in Venda. However, this language is also used in traditional religious services and ceremonies in spoken form.
The language is used in business and labour relations both in spoken and written form. As one of the official languages in the country, business people do correspond through the language. Some of the workers in the territory are monolingual; they can only communicate with the management with the language.
The other area in which the language is used in its written form is the southern part of Zimbabwe. Literary works in Venda have been published in this area.
The Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology is responsible for linguistic planning of the language. The department does research on how and where the language should be used in the country. The former Venda Language Board (now incorporated in the Pan South African Language Board) was involved with the orthography, terminology and the screening of literary books in the language. Provincial Language Committees have been formed in the Provinces, but are not yet fully functional. The Venda Language Unit and Language Body will be responsible for the linguistic policy and planning, including matters pertaining to orthography and screening literary works, when it is functional.
There are bodies, which promote the knowledge and/or use of the language. The Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology is involved with translations of literary material from other languages to the language, and terminology service. The Pan South African Language Board is involved in dictionary making in the language. The African Association for Lexicography and the African Languages Association of Southern Africa are involved with research on the development of the language. Through its programmes, Radio Phalaphala promotes the knowledge and use of the language.
The language has a literary tradition. The language was reduced to writing in 1972 by the Berlin Missionaries. The first publications of literary works are translations of the Bible and school readers. Real modern literature works were first published in the 50s. The first modern literary work entitled ELELWANI was published in 1954 by T.N. Maumela. The literary works in the language include poetry, drama, novels, short stories, essays, works on traditional literature, grammar manuals and dictionaries. The prolific authors in the language are T.N.Maumela, E.S. Madima, P.S.M. Masekela, M.E.R. Mathivha, P.R. Ngwana and W.M.D. Phophi.
(Mathivha, M.E.R., 1972. A survey of the literary achievements in Venda. D.Litt et Phil, University of the North)
The majority of the members of this community are proud of the knowledge and use of the language. It is only a few members of the community who look down upon their language when they mix with other population groups in urban areas to such an extent that they do not communicate with the language.
The language is one of the minority languages in South Africa. Therefore, the majority of the members of the neighbouring communities look down upon it. They are reluctant to learn and use the language. It is claimed that the language is difficult.
Many Venda people are adopting European habits, but African traditions in the language remains very strong. Venda has a rich oral tradition including proverbs, riddles, idioms, lullabies, praises, fables, legends and myths. The oral tradition remains strong in the rural areas and has exerted a strong influence on the written literatures of the Venda language. Prolific writers such as T.N. Maumela, E.S. Madima, T.N. Makuya have been influenced by oral tradition. Many of their works reveal traces of oral tradition in the depiction of themes, characters and setting. Many of the literatures written in the language are meant for schools. The culture of reading among the Venda people is still very low.
With the introduction of modern technology and the influence of neighbouring linguistic communities, the language is developing through adoption.
(Own knowledge and The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 27, 1992)