Towards a common Oshikwanyama official orthography for Namibia and Angola
The way forward on the conjunctive and disjunctive writing systems of Oshikwanyama
Keywords:Orthography, disjunctive writing system, conjunctive writing system, translation equivalent, Oshikwanyama, cross-border languages, Bantu, lexicographers, prefix, suffix, radical, root, agglutination, consonantalisation, vowel elision, phonological process
This paper emanates from a serious debate that took place at Okalongo, in Omusati Region, between the author of this salient paper, and some University of Namibia students, specialising in Oshikwanyama. This debate compelled the author of this study to explore further on the writing systems that prevail in Oshikwanyama. The disagreement was on the writing systems that are observed between Oshikwanyama used in Namibia and the Oshikwanyama used in Angola. Oshikwanyama, as a cross-border language, is one of the twelve dialects of Oshiwambo. Oshikwanyama’s writing system is adapted differently. In Namibia, it is written disjunctively, while in Angola, it is officially written conjunctively, especially when it comes to the treatment of verbs (Although, there was an attempt established in a meeting that was held in 2014 at a cultural festival in Ondjiva in Angola, headed by Pedro Tongeni, where it was agreed for the Angolans to adopt to the Oshikwanyama writing system used in Namibia. However, it is not yet officially approved by these two nations.) This is a qualitative study influenced by purposive sampling and content analysis. This study’s theoretical ideas are those of Cole (1975) who believes that Bantu languages should follow their writing system, instead of those of Indo-European languages. In this study’s literature review, a short overview of these two writing systems is provided by various scholars in the linguistic discipline, with special focus on Bantu languages (Prinsloo & De Schryver, 2002; Taljard & Bosch, 2006). Adapting to a common writing system and perhaps coming up with a common official orthography, preferably Orthography 4 of Oshikwanyama, where the two countries will be following in writing future materials, is of paramount importance, and it is what this study recommends.