Germanising Oshiwambo language

Phonological integration of German loan words into Oshiwambo

  • Johannes Uushona Mwaala Secondary School
  • Petrus Mbenzi University of Namibia
Keywords: phonological analysis, wambonisation, loanwords, German words, Bantu language, Oshiwambo


Oshiwambo, a Bantu language spoken in Northern Namibia and Southern Angola, like other languages in contact, has adopted foreign words from other languages to meet the needs of its daily life vocabularies and activities. This paper identified and described the phonological changes which the loanwords from German go through to fit into Oshiwambo speech system and established the phonological rules that account for these changes. The paper is based on the hypothesis that words borrowed from other languages, especially European languages, into Oshiwambo, are phonologically modified to fit the Oshiwambo speech system because little information is available on the phonological wambonisation of German words. The data were collected from school textbooks, daily conversations and personal vocabularies of the researcher. The loanwords were transcribed for phonological analysis. The paper investigated how Oshiwambo borrowed words from German yet the two languages differ widely in terms of phonemic inventories and phonotactics. It has become evident that there are several vowel and consonant changes in the process of borrowing. The paper contributes to the linguistic study in the area of Oshiwambo in particular and Bantu languages in general. The knowledge acquired could be utilized by the institutions of higher learning too.


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How to Cite
Uushona, J., & Mbenzi, P. (2018). Germanising Oshiwambo language. JULACE: Journal of the University of Namibia Language Centre, 3(2), 26-40.