(or Tsonga), a people living in Mozambique south of the Sabi River and in the adjacent regions of the Republic of South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). They number more than 3.2 million (1975, estimate). Their language belongs to the southeastern group of the Bantu language family. Some Thonga, called the Shangaan-Thonga or Hlanganu, are descendants of Zulus who came from Natal in the first half of the 19th century. Most of the Thonga have retained their traditional beliefs, such as cults of the forces of nature and ancestor cults, but about one-third of them are Catholics. The primary occupation of the Thonga is the farming of millet and soybeans. Many Thonga work in the industrial regions of the Republic of South Africa and Zambia.
a southeastern Bantu language group that includes the closely related Ronga, Tonga, and Tiva languages.
The Thonga languages are spoken in Mozambique and the adjoining regions of the Republic of South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) by more than 3.2 million people (1975, estimate). Their phonological features include open-closed opposition of two of the seven vowels ([e] and [o]). Notable among the consonants are the alveolar fricatives voiceless hl and voiced dl, and the alveolar affricate tl. Almost all consonants have aspirated variants. There is a tendency toward nasalization and aspiration of consonants at morpheme boundaries. Grammatical features include a system of 15 agreement classes, including classes la and 2a, which group together proper nouns, terms of relationship, and the names of totemic animals. Locative classes are absent. The verb is conjugated by means of infixes, prefixes, and suffixes. There are a large number of ideophones. The syntagmatic word order is subject-predicate-object. Attributes follow dependent words.
REFERENCESHopgood, C. R. A Practical Introduction to Tonga. London, 1953.
Doke, C. M. The Southern Bantu Languages. London, 1967.
N. V. OKHOTINA