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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a group of closely related languages, the most important of which are Karanga and Zezuru, of the south-central Bantu languages. According to a 1970 estimate, the Shona languages are spoken in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Mozambique by 1.5 million people.

The Shona languages have five vowels. Consonants include a voiced bilabial implosive and a voiced dental implosive; nasalization, aspiration, and voicing of consonants occur at morpheme boundaries. Nouns are divided into 21 classes that form a system of concordances; in addition to augmentative, diminutive, and locative classes, the Shona languages have two special classes comprising proper names, kinship terms, and the names of totemic animals. The classes are marked by prepositive monosyllables. Verbs are conjugated by means of affixes. There are many ideo-phones. In the Shona languages, word order is fixed in the pattern subject-predicate-object. Attributes are postpositional; that is, they follow the modified word.


Marconnès, F. A Grammar of Central Koranga. [Johannesburg, 1931.]
O’Neil, J. A. A Shona Grammar: Zezuru Dialect. London, 1935.
Shona: Basic Course. Washington, D.C., 1965.
Barnes, B. H. A Vocabulary of the Dialects of Mashonaland. London, 1932.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
We know Kikuyu just like we speak English, Kiswahili and we never dropped Shona. We are also fluent in it,' Koba said.
There are Shona men who have been divorced by their wives and you know very well you do not have an ID, you cannot lodge a complaint to the police or even at the court of law.
Area MCA Samuel Kimani said many are the times when he has pleaded with police to release the Shona, whenever they are arrested.