Learn Shona

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About Shona

Shona or chiShona is spoken by about 80% of the population of Zimbabwe, a country of 16 official languages. There are also speakers in Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique. It is a Bantu language, which means it has grammatical similarities to languages like Zulu, Xhosa and Tswana. In Southern Africa, it has the highest number of native speakers of any Bantu language. English has also supplied many words to Shona, as have its neighbouring languages.

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Where is it spoken?


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Language family





Fun facts — Shona

  • The language has borrowed many words from other languages such as 'yunivhesiti' - university - and 'motokari' - car - from English.
  • Clapping your hands is a gesture which accompanies greetings and can also mean thank you. Men clap with flat hands and women clap with cupped hands.
  • A Shona proverb says, 'it's a marvel to see a leopard playing with a goat' - manenji kuona kamba ichitamba nembudzi - which suggests that something suspicious is going on!

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