Related Searches


Venda language

Venda, also known as Tshivenḓa, or Luvenḓa, is a Bantu language. The majority of Venda speakers live in South Africa (where Venda is an official language), but there are also speakers in Zimbabwe. During the Apartheid era of South Africa, the bantustan of Venda was set up to cover the Venda speakers of South Africa.


Venda belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger-Congo languages.


Not much is known about the ancient history of the Venda people. The Venda people first settled in the Soutpansberg Mountains region. The first Venda capital, Dzata's, ruins are still there today. The Tshipani variety of Tshivenda is used as the standard.

The Venda people are culturally closer to the Shona people of Zimbabwe rather than any other South African group. The language also shares features with Shona and Northern Sotho. There has also been some influence on the language from the Nguni languages.

A number of diacritical signs is used in Tshivenda and they are not found in all fonts (mainly accommodated by Unicode fonts). Alternative fonts and more information can be found on this site and at the site. The Tahoma font available for MS Word on Windows seem to work quite well as well. For more on how to add these diacritic characters to your documents see Tshivenda : Characters.

The Vhavenda (Venda people) live mainly from north to east of Makhado (Louis Trichardt) in the Limpopo province of South Africa.

CLASSIFICATION: Family: Bantu (or rather Ntu) Language Family Group: South Eastern Bantu (or rather Ntu) No Subgroup

VARIETIES: Tshiilafuri (Western Venda; has traces of Sotho); Tshimanda (Central Venda; commonly used by the Luonde and Lwamondo); Venda proper (found in Tshivhase and Mphaphuli's areas); Tshimbedzi (Eastern Venda); Tshilembethu (North-Easter Venda) and Extreme Eastern Venda (influenced by Karanga from Zimbabwe); as well as Tshironga (Southern Venda) and South-Eastern Venda (shows influence of Tonga and Sotho)

Geographic distribution

Venda is spoken by about 666,000 people in the northern part of South Africa's Limpopo Province, as well as 84,000 people in Zimbabwe.

Official status

Venda is an official language in South Africa.

Origins of the Language

As with most of the other peoples of South Africa the Venda (VhaVenda) came from the Great Lakes of Central Africa. They first settled down in the Soutpansberg Mountains. Here they built their first capital, D’zata, the ruins of which can still be seen today.

Venda culture is an interesting mix of other cultures - it appears to have incorporated a variety of East African, Central African, Nguni, and Sotho characteristics. For example, the Venda forbid the consumption of pork, a prohibition that is common along the East African coast. They also practice male circumcision, which is common among many Sotho, but not among most Nguni peoples. The Venda language, TshiVenda or LuVenda, emerged as a distinct dialect in the 16th Century. In the 20th Century, the TshiVenda vocabulary was similar to SeSotho, but the grammar shares similarities with Shona dialects, which are spoken in Zimbabwe. Today about 875 000 people in South Africa speak Tshivenda.

The history of the Venda starts from the Mapungubwe Kingdom (9th Century). According to historical studies King Shiriyadenga was the first king of Venda and Mapungubwe.

Writing system

The Venda language uses the Latin alphabet with 5 additional accented letters. The letters C, J and Q are used only in quoting foreign words and names.
The Venda alphabet
A a B b (C c) D d Ḓ ḓ E e F f
G g H h I i (J j) K k L l Ḽ ḽ
M m N n Ṋ ṋ Ṅ ṅ O o P p (Q q)
R r S s T t Ṱ ṱ U u V v W w
X x Y y Z z

letter(s) value(s) in IPA notes
a [a]
b [b]
bw [bγw] or [bj] Varies by dialect
d [d]
dz [d͡z]
dzh [d͡ʒ] Similar to English "j"
dzw [d͡zw]
e [ɛ], [e]
f [f]
fh [ɸ]
g [ɡ]
h [ɦ], [h] Pronounced as [h] before e.
hw [ɣw]
i [i]
k [kˀ]
kh [kʰ]
khw [kʰw]
l [ɭ]
m [m], [ɱ] Pronounced as [ɱ] before v and vh. M is syllabic, [m̩], when following syllable begins with m.
n [n] Pronounced as [n̪] before and . N is syllabic, [n̩], when following syllable begins with n.
ng [ŋɡ]
ny [ɲ]
nz [nʣ]
ṅw [ŋw]
o [ɔ], [o]
p [pˀ]
ph [pʰ]
r [r]
s [s]
sh [ʃ]
sw [ʂ]
t [tˀ]
th [tʰ]
ts [t͡s]
tsh [t͡ʃʰ]
tsw [t͡sw]
ty [c]
u [u]
v [v]
vh [β]
w [w]
x [x] Similar to the ch in Scottish 'loch.'
y [j]
z [z]
zh [ʒ]
zw [ʐ]


External links


Search another word or see Venda_languageon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature