Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The Suto-Chuana language gap
 Phonetic structure
 Phonetics in relation to morph...
 Length, stress, and intonation
 I: A note on Ur-Bantu
 II: A note of the noun class...

Title: The comparative phonetics of the Suto-Chuana group of Bantu languages
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00072152/00001
 Material Information
Title: The comparative phonetics of the Suto-Chuana group of Bantu languages
Physical Description: 139 p. : map ; 25 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Tucker, Archibald Norman
Publisher: Longmans, Green and Co.
Place of Publication: London ;
New York
Publication Date: 1929
Subject: Sotho-Tswana languages -- Phonetics   ( lcsh )
Bantu languages -- Orthography and spelling   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by A. N. Tucker.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00072152
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 001024500
oclc - 09754869
notis - AFA6380

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 5
        Page 6
    The Suto-Chuana language gap
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Distribution of the Suto-Chauna tribes
            Page 9
            Page 10
            Page 11
            Historical developments of the languages
                Page 12
                Page 13
                Page 14
            Some general phonetical characteristics of the group
                Page 15
                Page 16
        Sources of information
            Page 17
                Page 18
            The system of notation used
                Page 19
                Page 20
    Phonetic structure
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Vowels and semi-vowels
            Page 23
            Page 24
            Page 25
            Page 26
            Page 27
            Page 28
            Page 29
            Page 30
            Page 31
        The nasal consanants
            Page 32
            Page 33
            Page 34
        The fricative consanants
            Page 35
            Page 36
            Page 37
            Page 38
            Page 39
            Page 40
            Page 41
            Page 42
            Page 43
            Page 44
            Page 45
            Page 46
            Page 47
            Page 48
            Page 49
            Page 50
        The plosive consonants
            Page 51
            Page 52
            Page 53
            Page 54
            Page 55
            Page 56
        The affricative plosive consanants
            Page 57
            Page 58
            Page 59
            Page 60
            Page 61
            Page 62
        The click consanants
            Page 63
            Page 64
            Page 65
            Page 66
    Phonetics in relation to morphology
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Vowel harmony
            Page 69
            Page 70
            Page 71
            Page 72
            Page 73
        The labialization of consonants
            Page 74
            Page 75
            Page 76
            Page 77
            Page 78
            Page 79
            Page 80
            Page 81
            Page 82
            Page 83
        The palatalization of consonants
            Page 84
            Page 85
            Page 86
            Page 87
            Page 88
            Page 89
            Page 90
            Page 91
        The permutation of consonants
            Page 92
            Page 93
            Page 94
            Page 95
            Page 96
    Length, stress, and intonation
        Page 97
        Page 98
        The functions of length, stress, and intonation
            Page 99
            Page 100
            Page 101
            Inherent tones
                Page 102
                Page 103
        Tonal morphology - The declension of nouns
            Page 104
            Page 105
            Page 106
            Page 107
            Page 108
            Page 109
            Page 110
            Page 111
        Tonal morphology - The conjugation of verbs
            Page 112
            Disyllabic verbs
                Page 112
                Page 113
                Page 114
                Page 115
                Page 116
                Page 117
                Page 118
                Page 119
                Page 120
                Page 121
            Trisyllabic verbs
                Page 122
                Page 123
                Page 124
                Page 125
                Page 126
                Page 127
                Page 128
                Page 129
                Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
    I: A note on Ur-Bantu
        Page 137
    II: A note of the noun class prefixes
        Page 138
        Page 139
Full Text



Scale 1:5.000.000
Englis MLies Kilomares
0 Z5 0 70 .00 0 50 .0 150







[Thesis approved for the Degree of Doctor
of Philosophy in the University of London]










(a) Dissyllabic Verbs 112
(b) Trisyllabic Verbs 122


THE following study is devoted primarily to a comparison of the phonetical
and tonetical structure of the three principal members of the Suto-Chuana
group of Bantu languages and dialects, namely the SeRolong dialect of
SeChuana, the Sekukuniland dialect of SePedi, and SeSuto, the language of
Basutoland. Except in one or two cases, no attempt has been made here to
formulate rules for sound change from one language to another, although
these no doubt could be easily deduced. Neither is any opinion advanced as
to which single language has undergone least sound change during its life
history. It is hoped, however, that this work may afford additional material
for a philological discussion of these languages.
Each phonetical phenomenon or process is studied directly with regard
to all three languages. The order of sequence in which the languages are
applied is-SeSuto, SeChuana, and SePedi. SeSuto is placed first partly
because of the remarkable uniformity with which it is everywhere spoken,
and partly because of its political and linguistic predominance, since it was
the first language of the group to be used as a medium for education, and is
still the only one to have a native literature worthy of the name. As a literary
language, SeChuana comes next in importance, and is hence treated here after
SeSuto; the two languages also have more in common than either has with
SePedi. SePedi as a literary language is still in a state of flux. There are even
four conflicting spelling systems in existence, while a vernacular literature
is practically unknown.
Occasionally features arise in this treatise which are best studied from the
point of view of one of the languages other than SeSuto. In such cases, I have
started the relevant discussion with reference to that particular language.
Similarly, where phenomena are identical or nearly so in all three languages,
the examples have been selected from one of the languages only, thus
saving needless repetition.
The three languages dealt with here are regarded by their speakers as
"standard ". As such they should form a useful basis for the study of the
numerous sub-dialects to be found, especially among the various tribes and
clans of the BeChuana and BaPedi. The study of these dialects has been almost
completely ignored, and there is a wealth of untouched material still awaiting
investigation at the hands of the first enterprising field-worker.





1. For practical purposes we may classify the Suto-Chuana group of
Bantu languages under three main heads-SeSuto, SeChuana, and SePedi,
according to the three peoples who speak the different dialects of each of these
three languages.1 These three peoples are said to number respectively
800,000 BaSuto, 500,000 BeChuana, and 500,000 BaPedi, making a grand total
of 1,800,000 Suto-Chuana speakers.2
2. These three peoples, each comprising a multitude of smaller tribes,
are distributed geographically and fairly distinctly, the BaSuto in Basutoland
and Eastern Orange Free State, the BeChuana in Bechuanaland, Central and
West Free State, and South-West Transvaal, and the BaPedi in Central and
North-East Transvaal. Their linguistic similarity makes it fairly obvious that
they were historically one race, speaking one parent language, and that
geographical separation has been the main cause of the multiplication of
dialects. Indeed, the three languages are so near akin, that a native speaking
a dialect of any one of them can, without great difficulty, be understood by a
native speaking any other dialect.
3. The boundaries of Suto-Chuana may be conveniently summed up as :-
North.-The Ngami basin on the west and the Zambezi River on the east.
(Sekololo, the language of the BaRotse, north of the Zambezi, is undoubtedly
a member of this group, but falls outside the bounds of this thesis.)
South.-The Orange River.
East.-The Drakensberg chain of mountains.
West.-The Kalahari Desert to the boundaries of South-West Africa.
(Here, again, the BaKalahari branch of the BeChuana, extending in scattered
groups across the Desert, will be regarded as falling outside the bounds of this
This area comprises a high tableland with an average altitude of
5,000 feet, rising in parts of Basutoland to 10,000 feet.

1 As a rule, a Bantu language takes its name from the people who speak it. Thus, LuGanda
is the language of the BaGanda, IsiXosa that of the AmaXosa, ChiNyanja that of the
ANyanja. Similarly in the present instance : SeSuto is the language of the BaSuto, SeChuana
that of the BeChuana, and SePedi that of the BaPedi. The spelling of these names-as of
many others-though unphonetic and inconsistent in places, is that by which the tribes and
languages are best known in English writings and documents.
2 These numbers are given by Jacottet in the introduction to his SeSuto Grammar, and he
admits them to be merely relative. In the 1921 census the figures were returned as 495,937
for Basutoland, and 150,185 for Bechuanaland.


The BeChuana
4. The BECHUANA are divided into a number of distinct tribal groups,
the most important of which is the BAROLONG branch, and it is their dialect,
SeRolong, that I have adopted here as my standard for SeChuana.1 The
Barolong are to be found in Eastern British Bechuanaland with centre Mafeking.
They extend also along the Molopo River, and into the Lichtenburg district
of the Transvaal. Another branch, speaking a dialect of Serolong which offers
some interesting phonetic differences, is scattered over the Orange Free State,
but seems to centre around Thaba 'Nchu.
5. The BATLHAPING extend eastwards from the borders of the Transvaal,
where their head town Taungs is, to the Kuruman River. They meet the
Barolong at Mafeking.
6. The BATLHARO inhabit the western part of British Bechuanaland,
west of the Kuruman River. Their totem, tlhware (python), gives them the
alternative name of BaTlhware.
7. The BANGWAKETSE live in the reserve set aside for them in the southern
part of Bechuanaland Protectorate, north of the Molopo River. Their head
town is Kanye.
8. The BAKWENA live in a reserve further north, with head town
9. The BAKGATLA live east of the BaKwena in a reserve with head town
10. North of them, the BAMANGWATO extend almost to the Upper
Zambezi. The tribe numbers about 58,000, one of the biggest branches of the
BeChuana. Their headquarters, Serowe, has 25,000 inhabitants, and is one of
the largest Bantu towns in South Africa. One of their chiefs was the well-
known Christian figure, Khama. Their totem phuti duikerr) sometimes gives
the BaMangwato the alternative name of BaPhuti.
11. Subject to the BaMangwato, but of Mashona origin (according to
Brown), are the BAMATSWAPONG, lying east of Palapye. Their dialect of
SeChuana has one or two features not encountered in any other of the dialects.
(See Wookey's Grammar, 8, for a few examples).
12. A large branch of the BaMangwato, now known as the BATAWANA,
is found at Lake Ngami, with head town Maun.
13. The BAGAMALETE are probably also a branch of the BaMangwato.
Their head town is Ramotswa, near Kanye.
14. The BAHURUTSHI live in the West and Central Transvaal, with
Zeerust and Dinokana as centres. Their totem chwene (baboon) has earned
for them the alternative name of BaChwene. From this group are descended
a number of others, of whom the most important are the BaPedi.
x The words BeChuana" and SeChuana" have often given rise to confusion.
"BeChuana is the name given to the collection of tribes comprising the people found in
Bechuanaland, etc. The name SeChuana ", instead of denoting any common language of this
race, has so far been given to whatever dialect the various investigators of the time turned their
attention to. Thus Crisp, in his Notes towards a Secoana Grammar, chose SeRolong as his model
while Wookey and Brown, in their Secwana Grammar, and Brown in his Secwana Dictionary,
have really given us SeTlhaping, the dialect of the BaTlhaping. There is, then, no actual
language SeChuana, and the term, when applied in this work, will refer to SeRolong, the dialect
of the BaRolong.


The BaPedi

15. The different tribal groups of the BAPEDI are confined almost
exclusively to the Transvaal, where they live in small reserves or locations,
which are scattered irregularly over the country. The result is a number of
isolated linguistic groups, dotted about over the Transvaal, each little
reserve developing its own dialect in its own way.
16. The true BAPEDI live in Central Transvaal north of Middelburg,
and along the Olifants River in three large reserves under three chiefs:
Sekukuni, Mathabathe, and Mphatlele. The dialect of Sekukuni's reserve
seems to be regarded as standard by most BaPedi.
17. Further north, in the neighbourhood of Pietersburg, are three
other locations under respectively Moleche, Matala, and Mamobolo; the
people living in these reserves are therefore known respectively as: the
BaMoleche, BaMatala, and BaMamobolo. The dialects found here are affected
by what is known as Northern" influence.
18. The BATLOKOA under Ramakgopa live north-east of Pietersburg,
and pervade the Zoutpansberg. Another important branch is to be found
in the location of Motlokoa near Zoekmekaar. The BaTlokoa form a strong
tribe, and their dialect, SeTlokoa, has affected contiguous SePedi dialects,
giving rise to "Northern colouring in pronunciation and to a less extent
in vocabulary. A smaller branch is also to be found in the Rustenburg area,
and yet another in Bechuanaland Protectorate. These are of small linguistic
19. East of Pietersburg, near Duiwels Kloof, lie two tribes, the BALOBEDU
and BAPHALABORWA, both in the location of the queen Mojaji, and therefore
commonly referred to as the BaMojaji. The SePedi spoken there is strongly
influenced by TshiVenda, the language of the BaVenda living in the same
20. The Transvaal BAKGATLA are to be found in the Rustenburg district
of South-West Transvaal. This branch of the BeChuana BaKgatla has so
far differed from the parent stem in language as to be classed under the BaPedi.
21. In this neighbourhood also are encountered numerous smaller
branches of the old BaKwena, such as the BaFokeng and the BaKubung
of Potchefstroom. They all speak varieties of SePedi, influenced by their
original tribal language.

The Basuto
22. The BASUTO are confined almost exclusively to old Basutoland,
i.e. the country bounded by the Drakensberg, the Orange River, and the
Caledon River, and including a section of what is now the Free State as far
west as Thaba 'Nchu.i Further overlapping, either north (except at Witsies
1 Fouriesburg, Ficksburg, Clocolan, Modderpoort, Ladybrand, Wepener, and Zastron are
SeSuto-speaking. At Twee Spruit and Westminster SeRolong is encountered, while at Thaba
'Nchu it predominates, although there is a strong SeSuto minority.


Hoek) or into Natal is very slight. The nation is a union of a great number
of different tribes, welded together in comparatively recent times by Moshesh,
and all now speaking one language-SeSuto. Thus we encounter such tribal
names again as BaKoena, BaFokeng, BaTsoeneng, BaHlaping, BaKhatla,
BaTlokoa, which give a very good indication of the nation's origin, as well
as new names such as BaTaung, BaTloung, BaHlakoana, MaKholokoe,
MaKhoakhoa, MaPhuting.
23. The BATAUNG, both in Mohale's Hoek and in the Suto part of the
Free State, speak (or spoke) a dialect rather like SeRolong. Although this
dialect is fast dying out, its traces remain in a noticeable accent with
which the majority of the BaTaung pronounce some Suto sounds. This
accent is at its highest in Mohale's Hoek in Basutoland, where the chief
Mokhele lives. Strangely enough, however, in the Free State, where the
BaTaung are in almost daily contact with the BaRolong, their SeSuto is
much purer.
24. All the other tribes and sections of tribes composing the BaSuto
nation seem to have lost their original dialects. In fact their very tribal
names do not carry as much significance as the general title BaSotho ".
Regional distinction is very slight, and the language SeSuto is wonderfully
uniform over the whole country, both in vocabulary and pronunciation.
25. South of the Orange River is the district known as Quthing,
officially part of Basutoland. The natives there, however, even such as are
true BaSuto, regard it as being outside, and use the word Lesotho as
standing for that part of the territory north of the river. In a sense they are
quite right, for the majority of the people inhabiting Quthing-BaPhuthi
and BaThephu (a SeSuto corruption of "AmaTembu")-speak dialects
which show both Suto and Xosa influence.
Observation.-The above distribution of tribes takes no account of those
natives resident in the native-quarters of towns or employed on farms in the
Free State and Transvaal. This population is an extremely mixed one,
and is continually on the move, so that it is useless to attempt to use any
portion of it for the establishing of a local dialect. Doubtless this inter-
mixing of tribes and clans will eventually play a big part in the unification
of native speech.

26. Of the present Suto-Chuana languages, SeRolong is probably the
oldest. The BAROLONG were already separated from the main group of
natives when the forefathers of these races first made their appearance on
the Limpopo River in the fifteenth century, in a grand southern sweeping
movement. Together with the BATLHAPING the BaRolong journeyed south,
and eventually settled at Taungs. Here they quarrelled with the BaTlhaping,
who captured Taungs (1800 ca) and used it as headquarters, while the BaRolong
split up further. Ultimately after being frequently scattered by Moselekatse's
Matebeles, they settled in two main branches, one at Mafeking and one at
Thaba 'Nchu. Each centre has now its own specific dialect of SeRolong.


BaRolong BaThaping
BaRolong BaTlhaping



I BaTlharo



I BaKgatla



BaMangwato BaNgwaketse



BaKwena BaTawana BaGamalete
BaSuto BaMangwato BaNgwaketse



27. The remaining BeChuana again split up into four main sections,
which became known as the BAHURUTSHI, BAKWENA, BAMANGWATO, and
BANGWAKETSE, after their respective leaders.
28. The BAKWENA subsequently became divided into a large number
of independent groups, the remnants of which, after the great disturbances
resulting from Moselekatse's invasions in 1820, were used by Moshesh to form
one of the foundations of the BaSuto nation. The language SeKwena,
however, is still to be heard at Molepolole.
29. Historically the BAKGATLA are a branch of the BAHURUTSHI, from
whom they broke away, developing their language in their own way.
30. From these again are descended the BAPEDI. Under their chief
Sekwati they became, early last century, the dominant tribe in the North-
Eastern Transvaal, with the result that their language, SePedi, has now become
the standard for that part of the country.
31. The BAMANGWATO and the BANGWAKETSE seem to have had a more
unified existence, and the former tribe especially has now reached a high
stage in Bantu civilization, due no doubt to the efforts of the late chief Khama.
Whether the dialects SeNgwato and SeNgwaketse will ever have to be classified
as separate languages is as yet uncertain.
32. The BATLOKOA seem to have come originally from the north-east,
near the source of the Vaal River, in the early eighteenth century. This
seems to indicate at the tribe's not belonging originally to Suto-Chuana stock.
Traditionally, however, according to Ellenberger, they are descended from
the BaKgatla. The influence of their language has done much to prevent
SePedi from developing along the same lines as SeChuana and SeSuto, and
SeTlokoa is a well-developed dialect in the Northern Transvaal.
33. Mojaji's original tribe, the BALOBEDU (or MaTsoapa), seems to have
originated north of the Limpopo River in the BaKhalaka country. It was
strongly reinforced by BaVenda refugees and others. Its dialect is now
almost completely swallowed up by Northern SePedi.
34. The BATAUNG originated at the junction of the Vaal and Zand
Rivers. After considerable wandering in the Zeerust district of the Transvaal
under Moletsane, the main body finally settled among the BaSuto at Mohale's
Hoek. Here, all that remains now of their old language is a marked Chuana
".accent" in their pronunciation of SeSuto.
35. The BASUTO, as stated earlier, are a composite race of the remnants
of various tribes-mostly of Kwena and Fokeng origin-scattered by Zulu
and Matebele invasions, and subsequently united by Moshesh into a new
nation during the early nineteenth century. For political reasons Moshesh
established SeSuto as the only language for his newly formed nation, and
the language has persisted for the whole people ever since. Of all the Suto-
Chuana languages, SeSuto shows most traces of Zulu-Xosa influence, chiefly
in vocabulary.
1 An interesting article, entitled "Zu Erforschung des Lovedu-Dialektes," is contributed
by Eiselen in the Zeitschrift fur Eingeborenen-Sprachen, Bd xix.


Observation.-(1) In the naming of the principal members of the Suto-
Chuana group of Bantu languages there has been considerable confusion.
Endemann in all his works speaks of SePedi as Sotho (sometimes Nord-
Sotho to distinguish it from Siid-Sotho "). This terminology has found
its way into the works of a number of subsequent German authors, notably
Hoffmann and Beyer, who in the last few years have published' large
.collections of Pedi texts, which they label Sotho ", with the explanatory
remark that they come from the Transvaal. The later school of German Bantu
philologists 2 refer now to the whole linguistic group as Sotho ", with head
dialects Pedi ", "Tschwana ", and Siid-Sotho ". Thus in the German
writings one is occasionally at a loss as to whether the particular author
in question is referring to the language group or to SePedi.
To all natives, on the other hand, Sesotho (as they write it) is the
language of Basutoland. SePedi is referred to either by its proper name or
as Sesotho sa Transvaal ". The various British or Union officials and
education authorities follow the natives' nomenclature; according to them,
then, Sesuto is the language of Basutoland, and Sepedi ", "North
Sesuto ", or Transvaal Sesuto that of the BaPedi.
Hence, I choose here to name the group Suto-Chuana (after its two
important literary members and on the analogy of Zulu-Xosa), and to call
the three principal languages of the group : SeSuto (the language of Basuto-
land), SeChuana (the language in this case of the BaRolong), and SePedi
(the language of the BaPedi).
Observation.-(2) SeSuto and SePedi are not barely separable as
dialects ", as Sir Harry Johnston (influenced doubtless by the German school)
would have us believe,3 but two distinct languages. Phonetically and
tonetically SeSuto and SeChuana have more in common than either has with
SePedi. As regards vocabulary, SePedi and SeChuana seem to be more
closely related, SeSuto having borrowed much from Zulu-Xosa. Some of
the Northern Chuana dialects are very closely allied to some of the Pedi
dialects, both phonetically and in vocabulary.

36. Bantu languages are composed for the most part of open syllables,
i.e. syllables comprising: consonant (or consonant combination) + vowel.
Now and again syllabic consonants are encountered. Each syllable in most
Bantu languages has a tonal value. The vowel systems are very simple
(five to seven pure vowels as a rule), and diphthongs are relatively rare.
37. The members of the Suto-Chuana group of Bantu languages speak
a type of Bantu characteristic in itself. The vowel system is more complicated,
there being seven (and perhaps even nine) vowel phonemes. The syllables have
either stationary sonority as in syllabic m, 1, etc., or a crescendo of sonority,
1 In various numbers of the Zeitschrift flr Kolonialsprachen, Zeitschrift flr Eingeborenen-
sprachen, and Mitteilungen des Seminars fur Orientalische Sprachen.
2 See Eiselen and van Warmelo in Bibliography, 44.
3 Vol. ii, p. 84.


i.e. a progression from a less sonorous sound through a more sonorous
sound to the culminating vowel, e.g. ta (cons. + vowel), tsa and pfa (plosive +
fricative + vowel), etc., never as in English sta or German Jpa (fricative +
plosive + vowel), and never as in Zulu-Xosa nda or iga (nasal + plosive +
vowel). Where a nasal precedes a consonant, it forms a syllable in itself, and
has a distinctive tone value.
38. Sir Harry Johnston thinks the main languages composing this
group are very harsh-sounding and cacophonous. Whatever the accoustic
effect may be on an aesthetic ear, it is noteworthy that the further north one
goes the softer is the articulation of the consonants. SeSuto and SeChuana
have most plosives and affricates; SePedi has less, and its articulation of
existing plosives, etc., is not so vigorous, while in the Northern dialects, both
of SePedi and of SeChuana, the difference is more evident still.
39. Suto-Chuana shares with all Bantu languages the peculiar quality
of carrying power. A native speaking SeSuto, for instance, can be understood
at approximately ten times the distance at which he is intelligible in
English.' Some put this phenomenon down to voice quality combined
with "leather lungs", others to the fact of the languages being tonic.
The first explanation to my mind does not account for the native's
inability to transmit English that distance, and the second does not explain
why Swahili (a non-tonic Bantu language) also possesses this carrying power.

1 I tried out this experiment myself with a native teacher in Leribe, Basutoland. He
subsequently tested his pupils in the same way, and came to the same conclusions. A Dutch
Reformed missionary in Wepener likewise told me that, when speaking SeSuto, his voice could
carry over a far bigger audience than it could when speaking Afrikaans.


40. The material for this comparative study was obtained largely
through first-hand study of the natives themselves. The Suto phonetic system
set forth here is based on notes obtained during a three months' circular
tour of Basutoland (subsidized by the University of Cape Town), taken in
1926-7, with primary view to discovering any dialects that might exist in
SeSuto. These notes were for the most part taken at sittings at the various
villages visited. A few names may here be mentioned of natives who proved
themselves exceptionally helpful in the collecting of the material: Rev. Z. D.
Mangoaela at Morija, S. Pinda at Mafeteng, Moruti John Makhotling at
Lebeko, A. Sekese at Leribe, Chief Makhaola near Qacha's Neck, interpreter
Gideon Lebentlele at Hlotse, Moruti Etienne Tau at Thaba Bosiu, besides
my own boy Edwin Mahase. In the Free State the sittings were taken
mostly at native schools. In Cape Town I was able to analyze in greater
detail the pronunciation of Ben Masello from Mohale's Hoek. In London a
great deal of concentrated work (including laboratory experiments) was
done with Moffat Skye, a MoSuto of the BaHlakoana clan from Peka's, near
41. The Pedi material is based on a similar tour made in the middle
of 1927 through the Free State and Transvaal, with view to finding possible
dialects in North SeSuto "-as I then imagined the language to be. Here
I was especially helped by the Rev. M. Ramoshu at Johannesburg, T. P.
Mathabathe at Pretoria (both BaPedi), N. M. Ramokgopa, a MoTlokoa at
Pietersburg, and the Rev. H. M. Maimane and Philip Ramasodi, both BaKgatla.
In England all my subsequent concentrated work was done with I. Monare
as subject, a MoPedi from Sekukuniland.
42. During my Pedi tour I was also able to collect some useful notes
on SeChuana. Here my chief informants were P. K. Motiyane (a Thaba
'Nchu MoRolong), Solomon Plaatje (a Mafeking Morolong), and at Mafeking
the Chief Silas Molema, assisted by a kgotla of native teachers. Professor
Jones has since kindly contributed some very exhaustive analyses of SeRolong,
carried out by himself and Mr. H. E. Palmer on Solomon Plaatje ten years
ago. To them I am indebted for my method of treating the tone problem
as applied to verbs. Further concentrated work was done in London with
K. T. Motsete as subject, a MoNgwato from Serowe.
43. Sufficient stress cannot be laid on the part played throughout
both tours by the various missionaries, government officials, and traders,
who often put themselves seriously out to help me gather together the natives
for the various sittings I held. To mention all by name would mean almost
a new chapter; I should just like to express my gratitude here for their
hospitality, encouragement, and help.


44. The following works on African languages have also been consulted :
Africa. London.
Bantu Studies. Johannesburg.
Mitteilungen des Seminars fiir Orientalische Sprachen zu Berlin (MSOS.)
Zeitschrift fiir Kolonialsprachen (ZKS), Zeitschrift fiir Eingeborenensprachen
(ZES). Hamburg.
Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenl~ndischen Gesellschaft (ZDMG). Leipzig.
Bantu in General
BOURQUIN. Neue Urbantu Wortstamme. Berlin, 1923.
EISELEN. Die Verinderung der Konsonanten durch ein vorhergehendes i in
den Bantusprachen. ZES. Bd. xiv.
JOHNSTON. A Comparative Study of the Bantu and Semi-Bantu Languages.
Oxford, 1919.
MEINHOF. Grundrifs einer Lautlehre der Bantusprachen. Berlin, 1910.
VAN WARMELO. Die Gliederung der siidafrikanischen Bantusprachen. ZES.
Bd. xviii.
Festschrift Meinhof. Hamburg, 1927.
BUKA EA BANA. Suto Reader Series. Morija.
CASALIS. English-Sesuto Vocabulary. Morija, 1925.
JACOTTET. A Practical Method to learn Sesuto. Morija, 1906.
JACOTTET. A Grammar of the Sesuto Language. Johannesburg, 1927.
MABILLE and DIETERLEN. Sesuto-English Dictionary. Morija, 1924.
PUISANO. Sesuto-English Phrase Book. Morija, 1926.

BROWN. Lokwal5 loa Sekole. L.M.S.
BROWN. Secwana-English Dictionary (revised). L.M.S.
CRISP. Notes Towards a Secoana Grammar. S.P.C.K., 1905.
JONES. Words distinguished by Tone in Sechuana. Festschrift.
JONES. The Tones of Sechuana Nouns. Africa, Memorandum VI.
JONES and PLAATJE. A Sechuana Reader. London, 1916.
Sepeleta and Sepeletana, etc. Spelling Books. Tiger Kloof.
WOOKEY. Dico tsa Becwana. L.M.S., 1921.
WOOKEY. Secwana and English Phrases. Cape Town, 1904.
WOOKEY and BROWN. Secwana Grammar (revised). L.M.S.
BEYER. Handbook of the Pedi-Transvaal Suto Language. Morija, 1922.
ENDEMANN. Versuch einer Grammatik des Sotho. Berlin, 1876.
ENDEMANN. WTrterbuch der Sothosprache. Hamburg, 1911.


FRANZ and MATHABATHE. Outline of English-Transvaal-Sesotho Grammar and
Composition. Pretoria, 1927.
FRANz and MATHABATHE. Vocabulary, Transvaal-Sesotho Language. Morija.
(A series of school readers have been built up upon the lines of these two
books, and published in Pretoria).
Padish6 Sesotho, Transvaal. School reader series. Berlin Mission Literature

Other Bantu Languages
BRYANT. Zulu-English Dictionary. Maritzburg, 1905.
DOKE. Phonetics of the Zulu Language. Johannesburg, 1926.
KROPF. Kafir-English Dictionary. Lovedale, 1889.
McLAREN. English-Kaffir Dictionary. London, 1923.
MEINHOF. Das Tgivenda. ZDMG. Bd. LV, 1901.
SCHWELLNUS. W6rterverzeichnis der Vendasprache. Hamburg, 1919.
To my friend Dr. I. Schapera I am largely indebted for information
relating to the distribution and history of the various tribes of the BeChuana.

45. The system of notation used in this treatise is largely that employed
by the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures, as embodied
in its Memorandum No. 1. This itself is based on the International Phonetic
Association system, and has as its aim a universal practical phonetic spelling
for African- languages.
46. Where I have encountered sounds as yet unprovided for by the
Institute's orthography, I have used I.P.A. symbols. In one respect only have
I broken away from the orthography of the Institute, namely in using the
I.P.A. symbol jy instead of the Institute's digraph ny to indicate the palatal
nasal. My reason for doing so will be found in the text. (Ch. 4, 81).
47. The alphabet employed is appended below, with approximate
European values for the symbols :-
i as in French vite.
e ,, ,, te. 6 unsyllabic e.
E ,, bte.
a ,, English father.
o ,, ,, law.
o ,, German Sohn. 6 unsyllabic o.
U ,, ,, gut.
m as in French maitre.
n ,, ,, nez.
S,, ,, baigner.
English singing.


f as in
V ,

b ,
fs and
s as in
J ,,
3 ,,
x ,,
h ,,
r ,
1 ,,

English father.
(bilabial f).
,, very.
(bilabial v).


(see text).

English said.
,, shed.
,, leisure (sometimes as in English jump).
(Welsh 11).
German acht.
(voiced counterpart of x).
(see text).
English head.
(voiced counterpart of h).

Scotch reel.
English lamp.
(see text).

p and ph articulation as in English pay (see text).
ps, pJ, etc. ,, ,, (see text).
t and th ,, ,, take (see also text.)
d ,, ,, French dix, douze.
k and kh ,, ,, English kind (see text).
kxh (see text).


ts and tsh
tJ and tfh
t4 and t4h

articulation as in German zehn (see text).
,, ,, English chase (see text).
,, battle (see text).

C (see text).

Diacritical Marks and Letters

Over a symbol
over a vowel symbol
Sunder a vowel symbol
: after a symbol
h after a plosive
w after a symbol
-I after a symbol

= sound nasalized.
= vowel unsyllabic.
= vowel slightly more open.
= sound lengthened.
= sound aspirated.
= sound back-labialized ".
= sound front-labialized ".

(For the tone marks and their significance see Part IV.)



The Vowels

48. The wonderful similarity of the vowel-systems of all the known
members of the Suto-Chuana group of Bantu languages renders the task
of comparison a relatively simple one. There are seven main vowel sounds,
which would be represented in International Phonetic orthography by the
letters i, e, E, a, o, o, u.
The Cardinal values of these letters are sufficiently well described
in various works on phonetics 1 to render description here unnecessary. I shall
merely describe the Suto-Chuana vowels by reference to the Cardinal Vowel
49 The average Suto-Chuana i has a tongue position as closely approxi-
mating to Cardinal Vowel No. 1 as any known vowel of its type. English
learners of SeSuto especially have great difficulty in distinguishing it from
e, as the latter vowel is very near to the English vowel-sound in beat, seek.
The Suto-Chuana i may be regarded as identical with the French vowel in
vite, which is closer than the English vowel in beat.
Examples: phiri (hyena), madi (blood), ratile (perf. tense of rata,
to love).
50. The average Suto-Chuana e is closer than Cardinal Vowel No. 2.
Normally the sound is similar to the French 9-sound, and may be regarded
as identical with the vowel in day, maid, as pronounced by many Scotch people.
Examples : pelo (heart), pela (rock-rabbit), leleme (tongue) (loleme in
Very often, when unaccented or final in a breath-group, the vowel tends
to be retracted, and sounds rather like the vowel in English sick.
Examples: sekxhopi (stumbling-block), sesotho (the language SeSuto),
kea rata (I love), metse (water).
Sometimes a high tone on the syllable containing e will also produce
this effect, e.g. ke tau (that's a lion !).
51. There is a more open variety of this vowel which I here transcribe e,
although its tongue position is nearer Cardinal Vowel No. 2 than that of the e
described above. Its existence seems to depend partly on some rather vague
phonetical and grammatical laws, which will be described later. In many
1 Especially: D. Jones, Das System der Association Phontlique Internationale (Weltlaut-
schriftverein). Trofimov and Jones, The Pronunciation of Russian. I. C. Ward, The Phonetics of


words this open variety alternates with the normal close e according
to individuals. No one has yet been able to determine, for any one language,
exactly which words contain e and which e. As far as my investigations have
led me, the difference does not seem to involve a difference in the meanings
of words for the various languages of this group. Crisp for SeChuana, Jacottet
and Mabille for SeSuto, and Endemann and Meinhof for SePedi, have gone
to the extent of distinguishing the two types of e by diacritical marks 1; but
their results do not tally, neither have I found any native to agree with any
one author in more than half the cases I have investigated. Whether e is to
be considered as belonging to a separate phoneme from e (and hence deserving
a separate symbol) will be discussed in 58 et seq.
Examples: thabeg (loc. of thaba, mountain), laetsa (caus. of laela, to
order), kxwhedi (month).

52. The average Suto-Chuana E is about the same as Cardinal Vowel No. 3.
Its quality hardly varies in the pronunciation of any group of natives, and it
is readily distinguished from any variety of e, although I have come across
one tribe in the Northern Transvaal as well as a branch of the Free State
BaTaung, where the e and the E had so far approached each other in tongue
position as to be hardly distinguishable from each other. This, however,
is exceptional. The normal sound is similar to the average Parisian French
pronunciation of e; it is also similar to the first element of the diphthong
heard in air, as pronounced by many speakers of Southern English.
Examples : reka (to buy), letsEtsE (flea), laEla (to order).

53. The average Suto-Chuana a has a tongue position somewhere between
Cardinal Vowels 4 and 5, varying more with individuals than with peoples.
For practical purposes it may be compared to the vowel in Italian piano;
the vowel heard in South African English father, cart, is usually too back "
to serve as model. I have chosen the international letter a in preference to a
because a is the more commonly used type in ordinary orthography.
Examples : rata (to love), nama (meat), tala (green).
A frontier variety of a has been heard sometimes in a syllable next to
one containing u, e.g. pula (rain), tau (lion).

54. The average o in SeChuana is more open than Cardinal Vowel No. 6,
and often reminds one of the English vowel in hot. In SePedi the quality is
1 These are as follows :-
e: e e e e
e: eeee
All these authorities seem to regard the close e as a variety of the open. My experience is
that the close e is the normal vowel; hence I have applied my temporary diacritic to the open


more like that heard in English law. In SeSuto a much closer variety is used,
especially in final syllables, where it may often be mistaken for o.
Examples: noto (hammer), that (love), ako (nose).

55. The average Suto-Chuana o is closer than Cardinal Vowel No. 7,
and hence closer than the normal French pronunciation of o, or the vowel
heard in the Scotch pronunciation of oh, road. Perhaps it is most like the first
part of the diphthong heard in Afrikaans rook, boon, as pronounced commonly
in the Orange Free State.
Examples : motho (person), rona (us), pelo (heart), tsoma (to hunt)
(tfoma in SeChuana).
Sometimes when final, or next to a syllable containing i, the vowel tends
towards u.
Examples : ntIo (hut). (Compare loc. tMug, inside). Compare also SeSuto
podi with SePedi puli (goat).
Sometimes a high tone on the syllable containing o will produce this effect,
e.g. o reg ? (What does he say ?)
56. As in the case of e, there is an open variety of o, which we can
transcribe 9, although its tongue position is nearer Cardinal Vowel No. 7 than
that of the o described above. The use of these two vowels varies with
individuals, and no one has yet been able to determine, for any one language,
exactly which words contain o and which o. According to Mabille (speaking
for SeSuto) the closer variety is normal, the open o being confined to prefixes
and particles. Crisp (speaking for SeChuana) makes o the more common form.
Various authorities use various diacritics,' but again there is no satisfactory
agreement in their results, nor satisfactory corroboration on the part of my
native informants. Whether o is to be regarded as belonging to a separate
phoneme from o (and hence deserving a separate symbol) will be discussed
in 58 et seq.
Examples : phoofglof (loc. of phoofolo, animal) (pholofgolo in SeChuana),
t4otsa (caus. of t4ola, to anoint oneself) (t4otJa in SePedi), kxhomo (head
of cattle), molomo (mouth).
57. The average Suto-Chuana u is approximately Cardinal Vowel No. 8,
and may be regarded as identical with the French vowel in tous. English
learners tend to confuse it with o.
SThe most important are :-
o: 6 u
0: 00 0 0
Here again my experience is that the close o is the normal vowel, and I have applied my
temporary diacritic to the open variety.


Examples : pula (rain), ruta (to teach), zku (sheep).
After d (or 1) a fronted variety is often heard, mostly in SeSuto and
SeChuana, which in a narrow transcription could be written u or Ui.
Examples: duma (to roar), dula (to sit down), modudi (one who sits),
ditedu (beard).
In SeChuana it is heard in other positions as well, e.g. phuluhulH duikerr),
khulu (tortoise). In the speech of many BeChuana the fronted variety is more
common than the back variety.
An important point to remember is that the vowel is always "pure ",
i.e. monophthongic, and such diphthongs as are often heard, especially in the
London English pronunciation of shoe, spoon, are never encountered in Suto-
Chuana, even in the forward varieties of the sound.

The Open Varieties of e and o
58. Before dealing with specific examples, it is important to state here
that not all natives distinguish between the open and close varieties of e and
o. All can distinguish most readily a word like fola (to thresh) from fola
(to be cured), or a phrase like e sele (it is different) from e sele (it has
dawned), as heard in SeChuana.
There are, however, many natives who make no difference between :
femile (perf. of fema, to guard oneself) and
femile (perf. of fema, to breathe) in SeChuana,
or between :-
4otfe (perf. of 4ola, to overcome) and
Iotfe (perf. of 4ola, to spy) in SePedi,
and still many more natives who, though making and hearing a distinction,
cannot point out where the two words differ from each other. This, coupled
with the fact that no two natives' vocabularies of e- and o- words coincide
to any satisfactory extent, makes investigation difficult and dogmatizing
The following observations are confined to a very small group of natives,
whose speech I was able to analyze minutely, but whose phonetic ability,
especially as regards self-analysis, varied considerably.1 The "rules I have
deduced are in accordance with the pronunciation of all my informants, but
they do no more than cover half the field. Probably that will only be completed
when the philological study of Bantu is at a more advanced stage than it is
at present.
59. In the great majority of words containing e and o, these open sounds
can be shown to be related intimately to :-
(a) The normal vowels e and o.
(b) The true open vowels E and o.
My MoChuana (Motsete) found no difficulty in distinguishing the two types of e and 0
in any word I chose to ask him. Plaatje (the MoRolong, analyzed phonetically by Professor Jones)
was similarly reliable. Monare (the MoPedi), after first stating that there was only one type of e
and 0 in SePedi, was later able to find me several cases to prove that there are two. My MoSuto
(Skye) could only hear the difference in a few words, although he made it in many more.


Such words are constant, i.e. where the native makes a distinction at all between
the normal and the more open variety, these derivative words invariably
have the more open variety.
The Relation of e and o to normal e and o
60. All the Noun Class prefixes :-
1 mo-, 3 mo-, 4 me-, 5 le-, 7 se-, 11 lo-, 14 no- (bo-), 15 and 17 yo- (xo-,
fio-), 18 mo-, are pronounced with the normal vowel (e or o respectively) with
the exception of the prefix of Class la, uq- (bo-), which has the double
peculiarity of being pronounced with open 9 and high-level tone (every other
prefix having mid-level tone).
Examples: 1 motho (person), 3 motse (village), 4 metse (villages),
5 lenoq (vulture), 7 seat4a (hand), 11 loleme (tongue, SeChuana only), 14
boroko (sleep), 15 xo rata (to love), 18 mogwai] (in the grass).
Class la. bomarabE (puff-adders, SeSuto).
borra (fathers, SeChuana).
uotate (fathers, SePedi).
61. The personal pronouns :-
ke (I), o (thou), o (he), re (we), le (you) (lo in Ch.), yo (xo, fio) thee, mo
(him), rona (us), lena, lona (you),
as well as the Class pronouns :-
1 o (e), 3 o, 4 e, 5 le, 7 se, 9 e, 11 lo, 14 uo (bo), 15 and 17 yo (xo, flo),
18 mo,
are also pronounced with normal vowels.
Examples: kea mo rata (I love him), re bona motse 6a rona (we see
our village), motse o moxolo (the village is big), selo se sent4e (the thing is
62. When, however, these prefixes or their derivatives are used as
relative or demonstrative pronouns,2 or in connection with the adjectives
4e (all), or -si (alone), the open varieties e and o are used.
Examples : Ena 6o o bonag (he who sees), lesiba 3eno (that flute), qku tse
(this sheep), melapo ola (yonder river), rona rot4he (all of us), monna eo a le esi
(this man only), motse o mont4E (a village which is beautiful, i.e. a beautiful

The Relation of e and o to the Open Vowels E and o
63. When from a normal verb containing e or o in the penultimate
syllable certain derivative forms are built, i.e. Perfect Tense with -ile, -itse
1 A note on the Noun Class prefixes will be found in Appendix II.
2 The relative prefixes are :-
1 qo, 3 o, 4 e, 5 le (3e), 7 se, 8 and 10 tse (tJe), 9 e, 11 o19, 14 uo (bo)
uTq (39), 15 yo (xo fiq), 18, mo.
To save repetition, the examples have been taken from SeChuana.


etc., Causative Form with -isa (-iJa), etc., or Passive Voice with labialization
of the last consonant; the vowels E and o are often harmonized 1 to e and
o respectively (but not to e and o).
Examples (taken, except where otherwise stated, from SeSuto):-
Main Verb. Perfect. Causative. Passive.
rEka (to buy) rekile rekisa frekwa
(rekifa in Pedi) |rekwa
bona (to see) bone bontsha bonwa
(uontfha in Pedi)
roba (to break) robile robisa ro3wa
(rouifa in Pedi) rouqa
rema (to cut) remile remisa frewa
(remifa in Pedi) (rewa
t4ola (to smear) tiotse t4otsa t4olwa
(t4otje tiotfa in Pedi)
64. When a Diminutive Form is made from a noun containing E or o in
the penultimate syllable, the vowel e or o is often permuted to e or o respectively
(but not to e or o).
Examples: selepE (axe) dimin. seletswana
thEbe (shield) ,, the3ana
kxholE (thong) ,, kxhgoana
seiopha (troop) ,, selotswhana
65. Finally, when to a noun ending in a, E, e, the locative suffix -x is added,
the vowel is harmonized to e (but not to e), while the vowels o and o in a
similar position are harmonized to 9 (but not to o).2 Examples:-
thaba (mountain) loc. thabqe
letsEtse (flea) ,, letsetse mpJhe (ostrich) mpJheR
that (love) ,, thatog keletso (advice) kelets9x

Other Occurrences of e and o
66. There are numerous prepositional particles and grammatical suffixes
in e and o, which are constant throughout all three languages, as far as I have
been able to ascertain. These are :-
1 See Vowel Harmony ", Chap. IX.
2 This applies even to speakers who apparently do not differentiate between e and e nor
between o and o, in that in no word corresponding to e- and O- words in the speech of other
natives is the vowel harmonized to i or u. Notice the occasional harmonizing of true e and o
in the following words :-
(SePedi) lefa (to pay) Passive lifqa
(SeSuto) metse (water) Locative metsig
(SeChuana) ntio (hut) t4'uJ
Such occasional harmonizings are never found in the case of e and o.


-ile as in ut4wile (perf. of ut4wa, to hear)
-itse biditse (perf. of bitsa, to call)
-itfe (in Pedi)
-utse dutse (perf. of dula, to sit)
-utfe (in Pedi)
ntse ke ntse ke ut4wa (prog. of ut4wa)
be (in Suto) nka be ke ut4wa (cond. of ut4wa)
bo (in Chuana) jka bo ke ut4wa ( ,, ,, )
ue (in Pedi) nka ue ke ut4wa ( ,, ,, )
tei adverb = there
ko locative prepositions.
67. Finally there is a fairly large list of words in which these open vowels
are used, and for which there seems no rule. I append below some of the most
common words in e and o, i.e. those words about which my informants have
shown least variation among themselves 2 :
e o
phepo (victory) phofu (eland)
phetoxo (change) potoloxa (to walk round)
pheletJf (completion) obola (to peel)
besa (to roast) tiotsa (to smear)
tshexetsa (to prop) t4opola (to take a handful)
tfwhene (baboon) t4homefo (beam)
tfwheu (white) kxhomo (ox)
tfwheja (to trouble) kxhosi3 (chief)
ntjhe (ostrich) lootsa (to sharpen)
keta (to be slow) sefofu (blind man)
keletj9 (wish) xopola (to think)
kxwheli (month) molomo (mouth)
In no case have I found one native's list to tally with that of any other
native to any really appreciable extent. And this fact, combined with the way
in which the derivative types of e and o do tally, has persuaded me not to
classify e and o as separate phonemes from e and o. For this reason then I
have used in this chapter diacritical marks instead of applying new symbols.
In subsequent chapters the open and close varieties of these two vowels will
not be differentiated in their transcription. The symbols e and o will
1 The final vowel of perfect tense endings (at least in SeChuana) seems to depend on the
vowel in the penultimate syllable, e.g.:-
-itse -etse -etsE
-utse -otse -otss
I have not come across any perfect endings -etss -otsE in SeSuto and SePedi; here the
final vowel seems to be e.
2 To save repetition, the examples have been taken only from SeChuana. The corresponding
Suto and Pedi words agree as far as the vowels are concerned.
3 Probably derived from xoxa (to draw), in which case the word should be discussed in
relation with 63.


designate the normal close variety, except in such cases as fall under the
" rules laid out in 58-67.
Observation: It must be borne in mind that these foregoing remarks
apply only to the pronunciation of those natives who differentiate, or can
be taught to differentiate, two types of e and two types of o in their own
consciousness. As stated before, there are many who make no differentiation,
consciously or unconsciously, and hear none in the speech of their fellows.
For them this state of affairs does not exist.
The Influence of Back Vowels on Preceding Consonants
68. In all three languages, the back vowels u, o and o, are accompanied
by very pronounced lip-rounding. This phenomenon is so strong that the native
invariably rounds his lips and raises the back of his tongue during the
articulation of any foregoing consonants in the same syllable. Thus all
consonants preceding a back vowel in the same syllable are labialized ",
i.e. pronounced with strong lip-rounding and simultaneous raising of the back
of the tongue.'
For example, in jko (nose), both the ij and the k have strong lip-rounding.
The back of the tongue is of course against the velum, but is so tense in SeSuto
that in coming down to the o-position, it is often a fraction of a second late,
with the result that many of my natives have pronounced a word that sounded
like ikwo. Charged with inserting an English w-glide, they denied the charge
Both in SeSuto and in SeChuana I have heard this sentence :-
pjku e kxholo (the sheep is big)
pronounced :-
gku go kxholo,
the e6 diphthong comprising one syllable. The tongue and lips were evidently
preparing for the back vowels in kxholo even before the consonant stop
(for kxh) was formed.
69. Sometimes this labialization effect is so great as to produce a sound
differing widely from the unlabialized sound.
Compare SeSuto and SeChuana lesa (to leave) with the derived nominal
form teso (in SeSuto) and teJo (in SeChuana). Or:-
SeSuto and SeChuana bitsa (to call) with the derived nominal form
pitso (in SeSuto) and pitfo (in SeChuana).
This, however, is exceptional. Normally the influence of back vowels is
not so strong as to require new symbols for the consonants affected. The
normal symbols may still be used (as may be seen in subsequent chapters)
with, however, the convention that the sounds are to be pronounced with
strong labialization.
The Semi-vowels
70. A semi-vowel in Suto-Chuana is a vowel (usually e or o) pronounced
so short as not to have syllabic quality nor specific tone. As such it can never
1 The reader's attention is here directed to the chapter on Labialization (Ch. X).


occur in isolation, but acts as a gliding sound to a vowel of greater sonority
than itself.
71. The palatal semi-vowel (6) is not a short i as in English, but rather
a short e, being much more sonorous than the initial sound in yes. It occurs
largely before a and E, and is rarely to be found before i or u.
Examples (taken from SeSuto): 6ena (this), 6Ena (himself), ea (to go),
eona (they), 6o4e (all).
In the SePedi words lematiana (dimin. of lemati = plank), molakiana
(dimin. of molaki = overseer), and one or two others, the glide has a pronounced
Very often in going from a close front vowel to a more open one, or vice
versa, a native will epenthesize an e-glide, e.g. tia or ti6a (to be firm).
In SeSuto it is sometimes used between two vowels instead of fi, e.g.
beea for befia (to bet).
72. The labio-velar semi-vowel 6 is likewise an o pronounced too short
to have syllabic quality and distinctive tone. It is more sonorous than the
English w, and does not normally occur before back vowels.'
Examples (taken from SeChuana) : 6a (to fall), 6sla (to fall into), 6eno
(yours), 6isa (to fell).
Occasionally the glide has an u-quality; cf. in SeSuto iieltla and
iiefietsa (to whisper).
Very often, in going from a close back vowel to a more open one, or vice
versa, a native will epenthesize an 6-glide, e.g. eu(5)o (that thing), oa (ii)utMwa
(he listens), lekxho(6)la (white man).
In SeSuto it is sometimes used instead of labialized fi, e.g. leta6a for
letafiwa (drunkard).
73. Very often, in rapid speech, the vowels e and o lose their syllabic
quality and are shortened to 6 and 6.
Examples: e a mpona (it sees me) is often pronounced ea mpona, four
syllables instead of five. In SePedi e upqa (but) is often pronounced eupqa,
two syllables instead of three, o a nthuta (he teaches me) is often pronounced
6a nthuta, four syllables instead of five. xo Ema (to stand) is often pronounced
x6Ema or even xwema, two syllables instead of three, moaxi (builder) is often
pronounced m6axi or even mwaxi, two syllables instead of three.
For this reason, in phonetic transcriptions, the symbols 6 and 6, though
contrary to International Phonetic principles as regards diacritical marks, are
more fitting than separate symbols like j (or y) and w.

1 In SeSuto, as has been mentioned before ( 68) an initial overrounding of a back vowel
has very often given me the impression of an epenthetic 6-glide. Thus ot-a (to beat) and l)ko
(nose) often sound like 60t4-a and lJk3o. A further discussion of this phenomenon will be
found in the chapter devoted to labialization (Ch. X).

74. All three languages possess the four nasals m, n, ji, n, occurring before
most vowels and also occurring syllabically.

75. The bi-labial nasal m is very sonorous, and tends to nasalize following
close vowels, especially i and u. It occurs before all vowels.
Examples (taken here from SeSuto): mina (to blow the nose), metse
(water), dumela (good-day !), roma (to send), temo (ploughing), motho (person),
mula (to beat with a stick).
76. In one or two words m and u (b) seem to be interchangeable.
Compare :-
SePedi nama (to stretch legs) occasionally pronounced naua
SeSuto tutubala (to shut eyes) ,,,, tutumala
SeSuto tsebiso (notice) ,,,, tsemiso
SePedi tJhuva (to burn) ,, tJhuma
Notice also the regular permutation of v in cases like : mmopi (creator)
from uopa (to create) (bopa in SeSuto and SeChuana). See 247.

Syllabic m
77. Syllabic m occurs usually only before a cognate homorganic stop,
i.e. before m, p (pf, etc.), ph (pJh, etc.).
Examples from SePedi:-
mma (mother) mpa (stomach) mpho (gift)
mpja (dog) mpJhe (ostrich)
It is very often a contracted form of the pronouns mo (*mu) and n (*ni):-
kea mmona (I see him) for kea mo uona
oa mpona (he sees me) for o a n uona
Compare :-
SeChuana ba m alafa (they cured him)
kea m feta or kea m heta (I pass him) with:-
SePedi ua mo alafa and kea mo feta.
Compare also SeChuana mhaxo (provisions) with SePedi mphayo and
SeSuto mofao.
78. The alveolar nasal stop n has relatively the same tongue position as
in English. It occurs before all vowels in all three languages.
Examples (taken here from SeChuana) : mmoni (seer), nesa (to cause to
rain), lobone (lamp), nama (meat), noka (hip), noka (river), lehununu (a Chuana


79. In one or two words n and 1 seem to be interchangeable. Compare:-
SeSuto noka with SeChuana loka (to season)
,, nokla ,, ,, lokela (to put in)
SePedi lenao with occasional pronunciation lelao (foot)
Compare also ana (to narrate) with perfect anne (for anile)
xana (to refuse) ,, ,, xanne (for xanile)
and several other verbs in all three languages.

Syllabic n
80. Syllabic n occurs only before a cognate homorganic stop, i.e. before
n, t, ts, tJ, tl, th, tsh, tJh, tth.
Examples from SeChuana:-
nna (to sit), nta (louse), ntho (sore)
ntsi (fly), ntsha (to take out)
ntJa (dog), ntJha (new)
nt4o (hut), nt4ha (tip)

81. The palatal nasal p is the result of a single articulation of the blade
and front of the tongue against the hard palate, the tongue tip being depressed.
Doke calls it pre-palatal ", and even invents a new symbol to distinguish
it from the French palatal nasal as heard in montagne.1 Given the convention
that the palatal nasal is of a more forward variety than that encountered in
French, I see no objection to using the y symbol. Most schools, including the
International Institute of African Languages, use the digraph ny, which is
unambiguous, since the sounds n and y do not occur together in any of our
three languages. My two principal-objections to this digraph are, firstly, that
j is as much a single articulation as m, n, and 1j, and therefore should have a
single symbol; and secondly, the syllabic properties of all the nasals in these
languages require that one should be able to mark their tones when occasion
demands. A digraph offers great difficulties to tone marking, as may easily
be deduced.
The palatal nasal is not so common as the labial or alveolar nasal, and is
especially rare before the close vowels i and u.
Examples (taken here from SeChuana) : mosepi (spoiler), perisa (to melt),
jpra (to melt, intrans.), patsa (to despise), lepora (thirst), porilwe (perf. of
porwa = to be thirsty), pupuetsa (to screw up the lips).

Syllabic p
82. Syllabic p occurs only before the cognate nasal stop, i.e. before
another p.
Examples from SeChuana: ppa (to distil), ppe (small).

1 O. cit., p. 73.


The pronoun n before a verb stem commencing with p is replaced by
syllabic p:-
patsa (to despise)
o a ppjatsa (he despises me).

83. The velar nasal is formed in the same way as in English singing.
Many English find an initial difficulty in pronouncing it at the beginning of
words. It occurs largely before a and o, and very rarely before i and u.
Examples (taken here from SePedi): legina (ear-ring), jagietfe (perf. of
gaiela = to dispute), iaka (doctor), legopE (ridge), iopa (barren female),
moiuna (den).
Before front vowels it tends towards p.

Syllabic i
84. Syllabic i occurs before a cognate homorganic stop, i.e. before j and
k (kh, kxh),
Examples from SePedi: gIjwe (other), jku (sheep).
The pronoun n before a verb stem commencing with a velar consonant is
replaced by syllabic I :-
Iaua (to scratch)
e a igjaua (it scratches me).
85. Syllabic i is also found finally in a few words--uqai (grass), 4oI
(hedge-hog), likxhoi (fire-wood), and in the locative case of nouns, e.g.
thavej (loc. of thaua = mountain), pronounced in three syllables-tha-ue-j.
English speakers invariably omit to give the J1 its full syllabic value and
appropriate tone, and are inclined to pronounce it like the i in thing.
That this I is descended from the old locative particle -ni is evident from
some of the Pedi dialects. In Northern Transvaal I have encountered the
pronunciation thoni and thaueni in the speech of at least three tribes.

The Breathed Labial Fricatives f and f
86. In SeSuto the breathed labio-dental fricative f is pronounced as in
English, the upper lip being lifted well out of the way. This sound is used
throughout Basutoland, except in the neighbourhood of Mohale's Hoek, where
the BaTaung 1 pronounce h instead.
Examples :-
SeSuto : lefatshe (earth), lefifi (darkness)
SeTaung: lehatshe lehihi.
87. In SeChuana the corresponding sound is bilabial (f), and the upper
lip is brought down to meet the lower lip as it comes up. The teeth do not enter
into the articulation. The BaRolong of the Orange Free State, however,
especially in Thaba 'Nchu, pronounce h instead, like the BaTaung mentioned
above. The BaRolong of Bechuanaland accuse the BaTlhaping 1 of introducing
this pronunciation. It is significant that Brown, in his Dictionary, represents
all f-words with h. I have seen elsewherefh-spellings, obviously an attempt to
show that the sound is not the English or SeSuto labio-dental fricative.
88. In SePedi the bi-labial articulation predominates, although many
BaPedi pronounce f like the BaSuto.
89. f (or f) occurs in all three languages before all vowels. Examples :-
SeSuto SeChuana SePedi
fi4a (to hide) fit4ha fi4a
feta (to pass) feta feta
fepa (to feed) fepa (to entice) fepa (to feed)
lefatshe (earth) lefatshe lease
fora (to plait hair) fora phefo (wind)
fofa (to fly) fofa fofa
fula (to graze) fula fula

The Permutation of f and f 2
90. In all three languages a verb commencing with f (or f), under certain
conditions, has the fricative replaced by the homorganic aspirated plosive ph.
The fricative f (or f) is then said to have been permuted to ph. Thus :-
kea mo fEpa (or fepa) (I feed him.) but
o (i)a mphEpa (He feeds me.)
SThe reader's attention is here directed to Chapter I, in which the distribution of these
tribes is discussed.
2 A discussion of the rules governing permutation will be found in Part III of this book.
Chapter XII.


91. In SeChuana a noun beginning with f, and belonging to Class 11
(prefix lo-) has plural stem in ph (after prefix li-). Thus :-
lofafa (feather) plur. Jiphafa
lofatsa (a chip) ,, liphatsa
In SePedi one or two nouns with prefix le- corresponding to the SeChuana
11th Class nouns also undergo permutation in their plural forms :-
lefofa (feather) plur. mafofa or liphofa
lefatJa (chip) ,, mafatja ,, liphatJa.

The Voiced Labial Fricatives v and u
92. The voiced labio-dental fricative v is a foreign sound, introduced
by Europeans. The majority of natives substitute their nearest equivalent to
it. Even the BaSuto, who find no difficulty in pronouncing it when speaking
English, as often as not use SeSuto substitutes when encountering a naturalized
v-word in SeSuto. Thus :-
Davida (Suto Bible spelling) is usually pronounced tafita.
Levenkele (dictionary spelling) ,, ,, lebejkele = shop.

93. The voiced bi-labial fricative (u) occurs only in SePedi, and
corresponds to the voiced bi-labial plosive (b) in the other two languages.
(See b under plosives, 159.)
u (or b) occurs in all three languages before all vowels. Examples :-
SePedi SeChuana SeSuto
uina (to dance) bina bina
vepa (to glisten) beia bepa
udleya (to give birth to) bElexa belefia
uala (to read) bala bala
vona (to see) bona bona
uo4oko (pain) bot4hoko boloko
uula (to open) bula bula

The Permutatiou of u (or b)
94. In all three languages a verb commencing with u (or b) has, under
certain conditions, the voiced consonant permuted to the homorganic
unaspirated plosive p.1 Thus:-
kea uona (or bona) (I see.) but
o a mpona (He sees me.)
o a i pona (He sees himself.)
1 Note the unusual permutation of U (or b) after the 3rd pers. ace. pron. m0 :-
kea mmona, I see him (for kea mo bona).
The same phenomenon is to be noticed after the noun-agent prefix mo-. Thus:-
mmesi, one who roasts (from verb besa, to roast) (see 247).


95. In SeChuana a noun commencing'with b and belonging to Class 11
(prefix lo-) has plural stem in p (after prefix li-). Thus :-
lobaka (time) plur lipaka
lobu (salt ground) ,, lipu
In SePedi one or two nouns in the 5th Class (prefix le-) also undergo
permutation. Such nouns correspond to 11th Class nouns in SeChuana.
(There is no lo- prefix in SePedi, le- having taken its place.)
leuaka (time) plur. mauaka or lipaka.
Notice, however :-
leuu (salt ground) plur. mauu.
96. In all three languages an adjective commencing with u (or b), when
qualifying a noun of the 8th, 9th, or 10th Class, has the voiced consonant
permuted to p. The following example shows its application to the 8th class :-
In SePedi:-
selemo se seue, a bad summer. 7th Class.
lilemo tJe mpe, bad summers. 8th Class.
In SeSuto and SeChuana the two phrases would run:-
selemo se sebe and
dilemo tse mpe (SeSuto)
lilemo tse limpe (SeChuana).

The Mixed Fricatives fs and uz
97. In SePedi there are a few words where the f seems to have undergone
some palatalizing change, being pronounced with sibilant colouring of s or
almost 0 quality.
Examples: morufsi (small dish), kxhaofsi (near), mafsi (thick milk),
lefsifsi (darkness), lefsika (rock), lefsitha (wrinkle), fsina (to tie fast), fsa
This phenomenon is treated more fully under "Palatalization"
(Chapter XI). It is difficult, however, to understand how words like mafsi,
lefsifsi, and lefsika came to be so affected, while words like fi4a (to hide), and
fifala (to grow dark) were not.

98. As in the case of fs, a voiced bilabial fricative with sibilant
colouring of z or quality is heard in a few Pedi words.
Examples: seuza (vessel), leuza (tools), uzala (to sow).2

1 In every case fs coincides with f (or f) in SeSuto and SeChuana, except in the case of
fsa (new), which is Ja in both languages.
2 Salad in SeSuto and SeChuana.


The Permutation of fs and uz
99. The Pedi adjective fsa (new) has its stem in psh when qualifying a
noun in the 8th, 9th, or 10th Class. Thus :-
selo se sifsa (a new thing) 7th Class.
lilo tje mpsha (new things) 8th Class.
nku e mpsha (a new sheep) 9th Class.
ligku tJe mpsha (new sheep) 10th Class.
100. The verb uzala (to sow) has as derived nominative form psalo
The s-element in psh and ps has an almost 0-like quality. (See also under
Plosives, 160.)

The Breathed Alveolar Sibilant (hissing) Fricative s
101. The sound s is most common in SeSuto, where it occurs before all
vowels. In SeChuana it never occurs before back vowels (o o u), but its place
is taken by labialized J, where the two languages have words in common.
SeSuto: sila sepa seba sala
(to grind) (to destroy) (to back-bite) (to remain)
SeChuana: sila sepa ssba sala
SeSuto : soka sot4a supa
(to stir) (to mock) (to point)
SeChuana: Joka Jot4a Jupa
102. In SePedi s occurs before all vowels except perhaps u.1
Examples : sesipili (swelling), sela (to cross a river), sEya (to cut), lesa
(to leave off), uosola (fault), sola (to ladle out food).
In many words SeSuto s is represented by s in SePedi, in other words
by J. (See 104, et seq.)
The Breathed Alveolar Semi-sibilant (hushing) Fricative J
103. For all three languages the normal J-sound is very like what is
heard in English shut, with, however, no tendency, under normal circumstances,
to round the lips. In SePedi perhaps the sound is not articulated as vigorously
as in the other two languages, and is I think rather more palatal. In SeSuto,
on the other hand, the tendency seems to be to raise and retract the tongue-
tip slightly. In all three languages, just as in English, the sound varies
considerably with individuals. It is perhaps worth noting that speakers with
a retracted J have a tongue-tip s, while those with a more palatal J are inclined
to use the blade of the tongue for the s rather than the tip.
In all three languages J occurs before all vowels, but there are not many
words common to all three languages containing J. In fact f in SeChuana
and in SePedi seems to correspond more often to s in SeSuto than to J. I
append some examples where it is common to all three languages :-
1 Note, however, lesufi, an alternative dialectal form of lefsifsi (darkness).


SeSuto SeChuana SePedi
Jaba (to eat two things together) Jaba feua
Japa (to thrash) fapa -
fsba (to look around) Jfba -
Jome (ten) Jome Jome
sefoba (bundle) sefoba sefuua

The Relationship between s and J in Suto-Chuana
104. For purposes of comparison of two sister languages, it is very often
helpful to refer to their common ancestor for explanation of cases of seeming
irregularity. Thus by applying SeSuto and SePedi to Ur-Bantu,' the
hypothetical ancestor of all Bantu languages, a good deal of light is thrown
on the question of SeSuto s being represented in SePedi sometimes by s and
sometimes by J.
105. Examples of words where SeSuto s = SePedi s:-
SeSuto SePedi Ur-Bantu stem
mosadi (woman) mosali *-yali
lesa (to leave) lesa *-leka
sa (to dawn) sa *-kia
lebese (milk) leuese *-uiki
The s in these words seems to be derived from an Ur-Bantu velar consonant.
106. Examples of words where SeSuto s = SePedi J:-
SeSuto SePedi Ur-Bantu stem
bosiu (night) uofeyo *uu-tiku
lesika (tendon) lefika *tirJga
sala (to remain) Jala *tiya-ala
2lesapo (bone) lefapo *-tambo
2 lesoba (hole) lefoua *-tomba
2 lesupi (ruin) lefupi *-tumbi
-isa (causative verbal ending) -ifa *-ekra
Except in the case of -isa and -ifa, the SeSuto s which corresponds to
SePedi J seems to be derived from Ur-Bantu t, a source totally different from
that of SeSuto s = SePedi s.
107. With SeChuana the relation is far simpler. Here, SeSuto s,
whatever its origin, corresponds to SeChuana s before the vowels i e E a, and
to SeChuana I before the back vowels o o u, where the two languages have
words in common. (See 101.)
108. Some words in SePedi s correspond to tsh in SeSuto and SeChuana.
(In the latter language to tJh before back vowels.) Examples:-
SA note on Ur-Bantu will be found in Appendix I.
2 Compare the plural forms marapo, maroba, and marupi, still found in some dialects.
(See also Palatalization ", Ch. XI, 229.)


SePedi SeSuto Ur-Bantu stem
seya (to laugh) tshefia *keka
fase (down) fatshe *pa-ki
nose (honey) notshi *n-yuki
swara (to grasp) tswhara *pyata
leswajo (lung) letswhafo *li-papu
swana (to resemble) tswhana *pliana
These words indicate a velar ancestor (as in the case of SePepi s =
SeSuto s), or else (when labialized) a labial ancestor. (This subject is discussed
more fully under Palatalization ", Chapter XI.) See also 181.

The Permutation of s and J
109. In all three languages a verb commencing with s or J has, under
certain conditions, the fricative permuted to the homorganic aspirated plosive
tsh or tfh respectively. Thus :-
SeSuto: sila (to grind) tshilo (grinding)
SeChuana: sila tshilo
SePedi : fila tfhilo
SeSuto: sot4a (to maltreat) tshot4o (cruelty)
SeChuana: Jotia tfhotlo
SePedi: sotla (to mock) tshotio (mockery)
110. In SeChuana a noun of the 11th Class (prefix lo-) commencing with s
or f has plural stem in tsh or tfh respectively (after prefix Ji-). Thus :-
losea (infant) plur. litshea
losika (vein) ,, litshika
lofaba (tribe) ,, JitJhaba
In SeSuto one or two nouns in the 5th Class (prefix le-) also undergo
permutation. These are very rare, and correspond to 11th Class words in
SeChuana. (There is no lo- prefix in SeSuto, le- having taken its place.)
lesiba (feather) plur. ditshiba
The same phenomenon occurs to a greater extent in SePedi:-
lesiua plur. masiua and litshiua
lefika (sinew) ,, mafika ,, litfhika
lefaua ,, maJaua ,, Jitjhaua
Note, however :-
lese (infant) ,, masea
111. In all three languages an adjective commencing with s or J, when
qualifying a noun of the 8th, 9th, or 10th Class, has the fricative permuted to
tsh or tjh respectively :-
SeSuto: seat4a se- se sweu, a white hand. 7th Class.
SeChuana: seat4a se se Jweu
SePedi: seat4a se se Jweu


SeSuto: diat4a tse tswheu, white hands. 8th Class.
SeChuana: liat4a tse tJwheu
SePedi: liat4a tJe tJwheu
Note, however, the following exception in SeSuto:-
pudi e soothe, a dark brown goat. 9th Class.

The Voiced Alveolar Fricative 3
112. Whether the 3 in Suto-Chuana is to be generally regarded as the
voiced counterpart of the 5 is a moot point. In SePedi a voiced fricative is
heard very like the initial sound in French jamais, but pronounced normally
without lip-rounding. In SeSuto the sound is pronounced on the whole more
vigorously than in SePedi, so that complete contact with the teeth-ridge is
often made, and we hear a variant rather like the initial sound in English
jump. In SeChuana the contact is more palatal, and the sound more nearly
resembles j; sometimes complete contact is not made, and we hear a sound
like in English yes, with or without friction. Some authorities have transcribed
the sound ly, but this must be regarded as an historical representation
(although I have met with a dy pronunciation among one or two Northern
Pedi tribes). In this work I shall use the symbol 3 throughout for all three
languages, as no one type of pronunciation is confined exclusively to any one
Examples of 3:-
SeSuto SeChuana S3Pedi
5ile (perf. of 3a) 3ile 3ile
ka3eno (to-day)
le3Elo (eating place) logslo uosla
3a (to eat) ga 3a
di3o (food) 1i30 li30

The Permutation of 3
113. In all three languages a verb commencing with 3 has, under certain
conditions, the fricative permuted to the homorganic unaspirated plosive t .
kea mo 3Ela (I eat for him.) but
o (e)a ntJ~la (He eats for me.)
Note.-In SeChuana a noun in the llth Class (prefix lo-) commencing
with 3 does not have the 3 permuted in its plural form.
e.g. logelo (dining place), plur. i31Elo.

The Breathed Alveolar Lateral Fricative 4-
114. This fricative is to be found only in SeSuto and SePedi, and is almost
universally heard as a strongly breathed voiceless 1, exactly like the Welsh
li-sound. In some parts of Basutoland and the Northern Transvaal I have
heard a velar accompaniment, giving the sound a more guttural colouring.


This is probably what is meant by spellings like xl in some of the older hymn-
Examples of 4 :-
SeSuto SePedi
4e4isa (to make trot) 4e4ifa
4E4a (to trot) 4E4a (to drag to one side)
4apa (to wash) 4apa
4ola (to create) 4-la
4ola (to overpower) 4ola
ba4ubi (Eastern Suto tribe) mo4uui (one who plucks)
In SeSuto, except for the word ba4ubi (a tribe of Zulu-Xosa origin), I
can find no word containing the syllable 4u. In SePedi, u harmonized 1
from o can be found in such a position: e.g. mo4uui and mo4uthi, from the
verbs 4oua and 4otha (to pluck)
115. In SeChuana and the SeKgatla dialect of SePedi the aspirated
affricate t4h corresponds to 4 in SeSuto and SePedi. In some of the dialects
of Northern SePedi an aspirated dental t is heard for it; this is especially to
be noticed in the speech of the Transvaal BaTlokoa. Examples:-
SeSuto SePedi SeChuana SeKgatla SeTlokoa
4aba (to stab) 4aua t4haba t4haua thaua
4oI (hedgehog) 4-o t4hoi t4hoq thoni
Many SeSuto 4-words have an alternative pronunciation in t4h. (See
under t4h, 185.)

The Permutation of 4
116. This phenomenon is to be found naturally only in SeSuto and
SePedi, where 4 is permuted to the corresponding homorganic affricate t4-h.
In SeChuana, where all corresponding words have t4h, further permutation is
not encountered.
117. In SeSuto and SePedi, then, a verb commencing with 4 has, under
certain conditions, the fricative permuted to t4h. Thus :
kea 4aba (4aua) (I stab.) but
o 6a nt4haba (He stabs me.)
(o a nt4haua)
118. In SeSuto one or two words in the 5th Class (prefix le-) commencing
with 4 have the fricative permuted to t4h in the plural form (after prefix di-)
Thus :-
le4okwa (piece of dry grass) plur. dit4hokwa.
Note the same phenomenon in SePedi:-
le4okwa plur. ma4okwa or lit4hokwa
with, however, the following exception:-
le4aba (jaw-bone) plur. ma4aba or 2li4a-a (not lit4-haea).2
1 See under Vowel Harmony ", Ch. IX.
2 This word was supplied by Monare at a time when other native informants were
unavailable ; hence I have no means of corroborating it.


Observation.-It is worth noting here that the SeSuto adjectival stems
4ano (five) and 4aba (colour for an animal), are not permuted when qualifying
nouns of the 8th, 9th, and 10th Class :-
dikxhomo tse 4ano five cattle
kxhomo e 4aba brown ox with yellow nose
(kxhomo e daua in SePedi)
(I can find no other adjective stems in 4 in any of the three languages.)

The Guttural Fricatives
119. The reason why such a name is given to this group of fricatives is
that it has to include three types of velar fricatives and two aspirates. I shall
describe the sounds first before attempting to show their very complicated
interrelation :-
x denotes the breathed velar fricative, with strong "scrape "
y denotes the corresponding voiced sound.
hl denotes a very forward velar fricative, not, however, palatal enough
to require the symbol q.
h denotes the breathed aspirate.
fi denoted the voiced aspirate.
For the completion of our table of cross-references, we shall have to add
to the group :-
f the breathed bi-labial fricative ( 87).
f the breathed labio-dental fricative ( 86).
J the alveolar hushing fricative ( 103).
All these sounds, along with their permutations, are linked together in
an interesting but rather bewildering manner in the three languages under
120. The breathed velar fricative x occurs in SeChuana before all vowels
(except u). It is pronounced with a strong velar scrape as heard in Afrikaans
gaan, and its articulation is backer than in German lachen. Examples:-
axa (to build), xana (to refuse), xo (inf. particle).
It is also heard in the SeTaung dialect of SeSuto, as is seen from old spellings
like Thaba Bosigo for the mountain Thaba Bosiu.

121. The corresponding voiced sound is heard almost universally in
SePedi. Examples:-
aya (to build), yana (to refuse), yo (inf. particle).
The place of articulation here is so far back that the uvula often comes
into play, especially when the sound occurs between vowels, so that it may often
sound like a French uvular R. Examples :-
RaRaua as variant of ayaaua (to crawl on stomach)
RauaRauetJa ,, ,, yauayauetja (to gobble food).


122. In SeSuto the corresponding sound is the voiced aspirate fi as in
Afrikaans hand, but pronounced normally with more vigour. Examples:-
afla (to build), fiana (to refuse), fio (inf. particle).
Initially, or when strongly emphasized, it is sometimes replaced by the
ordinary aspirate h. Kymographic experiments, however, show that the voiced
aspirate is the usual sound.
Sometimes it is completely elided, e.g. bosiu (night), which in SeChuana
is bosixo. Likewise moafii (builder), and moflafii (inhabitant) are often
pronounced identically, and often both pronounced moai.
In one word cwaxa (quagga),1 the SeChuana velar scrape is heard,
although cwafia and cwaa are also to be heard occasionally.
123. Examples of x, y, and fi before all vowels :-
SeChuana SePedi SeSuto
moaxi (builder) moayi moafli
naxe) (in the field) nayei nafiee
axela (to build for) ayela afiela
xape (again) yape fiape
t4hoxo (head) 4oyo 4oofio
xoxola (to wash away) yoyola fiofiola
moyuli (mist) mofludi
The Permutation of x, y, and fl
124. In all three languages a verb commencing with x, y, or fi, has, under
certain conditions, the fricative permuted to the breathed velar aspirate kxh.
SeChuana xopotsa (to remind) kxhopotfo (reminding)
SePedi yopotfa kxhopotfo
SeSuto fiopotsa kxhopotso
125. In SeChuana a noun commencing with x and belonging to the
llth Class (prefix lo-) has plural stem in kxh (after prefix li-). Thus :-
loxopo (rib) plur. likxhopo
loxaxa (cave in cliff) plur. likxhaxa
Note here SeSuto lefiopo, dikxhopo, and SePedi, leyaya, with alternative
plural forms likxhaya and mayaya.
126. In all three languages adjectives commencing with x, y, or fi permute
the fricative to kxh when qualifying nouns of the 8th, 9th, or 10th Class. Thus :
SeChuana set4hare se sexolo (a big tree). 7th Class.
SePedi se4-are se seyolo
SeSuto sefate se sefiolo
SeChuana litihare tse kxholo (big trees). 8th Class.
SePedi litare tJe kxholo
SeSuto difate tse kxholo
I This word is probably of Hottentot origin.


127. The aspirate is to be found in SeChuana in a few words:-
ihabe (Lake Ngami), hula (to shoot), hE (now!) or
huma (to be rich), hubila (to redden), hupa (to put in mouth), where
it corresponds to 1 in SePedi, or
mhaxo (provisions), heta (to pass), hulua (to stir), where it corresponds
to f (or f) in the other two languages.
128. In some dialects of SaChuana, notably SeTlhaping and Thaba
'Nchu SeRolong, the labial fricative f does not exist, but its place is taken
by the aspirate h. Thus, instead of
lefifi (darkness), lefatshe (earth), lofafa (feather), fspa (to entice),
we hear
lehihi, lehatshe, lohaha, hEpa.
This phenomenon is also encountered in the SeTaung dialect of SeSuto.
As a result of this, we may naturally expect considerable confusion in
the orthography of the language. Brown's Secwana Dictionary, being based
on SeTlhaping, has h everywhere where the average MoChuana would use f,
as well as where he would use h.

The Permutation of h in SeChuana
129. One way of distinguishing "true h from h derived from f is by the
permuted forms.
True h has permuted form kh, e.g.
huma (to be rich) khumo (riches).
h derived from f has permuted form ph, e.g.
kea mheta (I pass him) oa mpheta (he passes me).

130. A breathed forward velar fricative is found in SePedi. It is very
soft, and occurs usually before back vowels as in :-
luma (to be rich), homola (to rest), lehopE (shoulder-blade)
although it occurs before front vowels in the words :-
hiuila (dialectal variant of hunela, to fasten)
lehano ,, leyano, palate)
lehet4-a ,, leyet4a, shoulder)
leiea (maize)
Many investigators have mistaken the sound for an ordinary h, which,
however, never occurs in SePedi, except as the aspiration of a plosive or affricate.

The Relation of 1 in SePedi to x, fi, h, f, f, J, in SeSuto and SeChuana
131. As a rule SePedi h corresponds to f in SeSuto, and to h or f in
SeChuana. Thus:-


SePedi SeSuto SeChuana
leJuhu (thigh-bone) lesufu lejuhu
nulua (to stir) fudu(fi)a hulua
huna (to tie) fina hunela
hutama (to hunch) futama hutaxana
huma (to be rich) fuma human
4ahuna (to chew) 4afuna t-hahuna
sehuua (bosom) sefuba sehuba
mo'ahu (calf of leg) t4hafu t4haha or t4hafa
lehuja (rivalry) lefufa lefufa
132. Where h is a variant of y, the corresponding words in SeSuto and
SeChuana have fi and x. Thus:-
SePedi Ssuto SeChuana
lehano (palate) lefiano lexano
lehet4a (shoulder) lefiet4a lexet4a
(leyet4a) (lehet4a)
lehwafa (arm-pit) lefiafi lexwafa
133. A few SePedi words in h correspond to words in J in SeSuto or
SeChuana. The most notable are the following:-
SePedi SeSuto SeChuana
'hwa (to die) Jwa Iwa
lehu (death) lefu lefu
leholu (thief) leJodu lexolu
It is perhaps worth noting here that most of the examples in 132-3 are
le- prefix words. The reader's attention is directed to 229.

The Permutation of h in SePedi
134. A verb commencing with 3n has, under certain conditions, the
fricative permuted to the breathed velar aspirated plosive, kh. Thus:-
hula (to rob) khulo (robbing)
hnuma (to be rich) khumo (riches)
Note the following irregular permutation, in which h has presumably
been replaced by f in the history of the language :-
seyokxho se sefuuelu,1 the spider is red. 7th Class.
liyokxho ii khuuelu,2 the spiders are red. 8th Class.

Permutation in the case of Word Stems commencing with a Vowel or a
135. Words commencing with a vowel or semi-vowel very often have a
permuted form commencing with k. On the analogy of the phonetic process
involved in other permutations, one is able to hypothesize the probable
1 The SeSuto form is sefubedu and the SeChuana form sehubelu.
2 Both SeSuto and SeChuana have kh.


previous existence of some initial y-sound, long since lost. The examples
here are all taken from SeSuto, but the words with their permuted forms
are common to all three languages. They are compared with their Ur-Bantu "
forms, as found in Meinhof's Lautlehre der Bantusprachen :-
SeSuto Ur-Bantu Permuted form
adima (to bud) yalima kadimo (budding)
afia (to build) yaka kafio (building)
ana (to swear) yana kano (oath)
Eta (to go) yenda keto (journey)
6a (to go) yia keeo (going)
6a (to fall) yua ko~o (falling)
6etsa (to fall in) yua-ekra kwetso (collapse)
Notice also in SeChuana:-
loEto (journey) yenda (plur.) liketo
The Trill r
136. The voiced alveolar trill is heard in all three languages, and is
strongly rolled as in Afrikaans, and never semi-fricative as in English. It
occurs before all vowels. Before i the trill is often reduced to one flap, which
has been taken by some Europeans for the 1-flap. To a lesser extent this
may occur before u also. Examples of r:-
moriri (hair), nare (buffalo), reka (to buy), rata (to love), marole (young
calves), roma (to send), rua (to inherit).
These words are common to all three languages.
137. In SeSuto a strongly voiced uvular R (as in Parisian French) is often
encountered as a variant of the alveolar trill. The natives differ amongst
themselves as to which sound is the older or "more correct" of the two,
while the French missionaries have been credited with introducing this variant.
This theory I am inclined to doubt, having heard natives use the uvular trill
in parts of Basutoland as yet unaffected by contact with missionaries. One
or two of my native informants believe it to be a relic of the now extinct
dialect of the MaKhoakhoa.
On the whole the alveolar trill is perhaps more common, although the
BeChuana and BaPedi imagine that all the BaSuto use the uvular R. I have
never encountered the sound in any of the Suto-Chuana dialects outside
SeSuto itself.
Syllabic r
138. Syllabic r occurs in SeChuana and SePedi in a few words before
another r. Examples :-
SeChuana rra (father), rra moxolo (uncle).
SePedi rra (father),' rra moyolo (uncle), pirretJana (to hurl stones).
1 Rare, usually in names.


The Permutation of r
139. In all three languages a verb commencing with r has, under certain
conditions, the r permuted to the corresponding homorganic aspirated plosive th.
Thus :-
ruta (to teach), oa ithuta (he teaches himself).
140. In SeChuana a noun commencing with r and belonging to Class 11
(prefix lo-) has plural stem in th (after prefix li-). Thus :
loraka (dyke) plur. lithaka
lorole (dust) plur. lithole
Note the following word and its plural form in SeSuto and SePedi:-
lerole (dust) plur. dithole
and in SePedi alone :-
leraka plur. maraka and lithaka.
141. In all three languages an adjective commencing with r, when
qualifying a noun of the 8th or 10th Class, has the trill permuted to th. Thus :-
batho ba bararo (three people). 2nd Class.
(uatho ua uararo)
(di)kxhomo tse tharo (three cows). 10th Class.
Note the following exception in SeSuto:-
pudi e rolo (a dark brown goat). 9th Class.
dipudi tse rolo (dark brown goats). 10th Class.

The 1-sound
142. The 1-sound is not the voiced counterpart of 4, as there is no
accompanying friction. It is like the average initial 1 in English words, not
very clear, and decidedly not dark. The sound is heard normally before all
vowels except i and u, and is apicalized slightly before back vowels. It
is very common in all three languages. Examples :-
lema (to plough), kxhole (thong), lapa (to be tired), palo (counting),
molomo (mouth).
1 seems rather an unstable consonant, and apt to be elided. Compare:-
SeChuana pholofolo with SeSuto phoofolo (animal)
,, philo ,, ,, phio (kidneys)

143. Before i and u in SeChuana and SePedi, we do not normally hear 1,
but a d-like sound, produced by some flapped sort of contact against the
alveolar. The effect to an English ear is intermediate between 1 and d, while
in some orthographies one meets with r-spellings as well. The sound is never
heard except before i and u. Examples:-
lilo (things), mosali (woman), lula (to sit), malelu (beard).


144. The corresponding sound before i and u in SeSuto is d, an ordinary
rather strongly voiced alveolar plosive, very like the d in French.' Examples:-
dikxhomo (cattle), mosadi (woman), dula (to'sit), ditedu (beard).

The 1-sound before Vowels i and u
145. In SeSuto unsyllabic 1 is never heard before i 2 and u, but, as stated
above, we hear d instead. Hence the current SeSuto orthography is able,
without fear of ambiguity, to use the symbol 1 for both sounds.
146. In SePedi, however, when an i, harmonized 3 from normal e,
or an u, harmonized from normal o, follows 1, the 1 is not replaced by I.
Examples :-
molili (crier) cp.- 1la or lela (to cry)
molimi plougherr) cp.- lema (to plough)
lifqa (to be paid) cp.- lefa (to pay)
molumi (biter) cp.- loma (to bite)
moluli (whistle) 4
147. In SeChuana rare examples of "harmonized i and u occurring
after 1 have also been noted. These are by no means so common as in SePedi.
Examples :-
molusi and moalusi,
noun agents derived from the verbs losa (to cause to fight) and alosa (to send
cattle out).5
Syllabic 1
148. Syllabic 1 occurs in SeSuto and SePedi before another 1. Here the
second 1 is not affected by a succeeding i. (I can find no examples of syllabic 1
before lu.)
molli (crier), lie (past tense of ga, to eat), 11sla (to cry for), lopolla (to
redeem), lla (to cry), mollo (fire), molloi (loc. for mollo).
Note.-SeSuto molopolli (redeemer) corresponds to molopololi in SePedi,
where the second 1 is affected by the i.
In SeChuana 1 is never syllabic: lela (to cry), molelo (fire).
SBut not dental. See under d ( 165).
2 Skye gives the word phelisa (to save a man from being executed) as an example of 1
followed by i in SeSuto. I should prefer corroboration from other natives before putting this
forward as a definite exception. Note the corresponding SePedi word is phelifa.
3 See under Vowel Harmony" (Ch. IX).
4 The corresponding words in SeSuto and SeChuana are moledi, molemi, lejwa,
molomi, molodi. There are undoubtedly BaPedi who would pronounce these words as in
SeSuto and SeChuana. In the pronunciation of such people 1 and 1 would belong to the same
6 Usually harmonized" i and U affect a foregoing 1 in SeChuana, e.g.
mmele (body) loc. mmelir
pelo (heart) ,, peluq.


The Permutation of 1 and 1 (d)
149. In all three languages, a verb commencing with 1 or 1 (d) has, under
certain conditions, the sound permuted to the homorganic unaspirated plosive t.
Thus :-
lesa (to leave alone) o a ntesa (he leaves me alone)
Jula (to sit down) tulo (the act of sitting)
150. In SeChuana a noun commencing with 1 or 1 and belonging to the
llth Class (prefix lo-) has plural stem in t (after prefix li-). Thus:-
lolala (mill) plur. litala
loleme (tongue) plur. liteme
loli (bark) plur. Jinti
Note in SeSuto: leleme (tongue), plur. maleme, and liteme (flattery).
In SePedi also : maleme (tongues), liteme (languages).
151. The adjective stem lelele (long) behaves irregularly. In SeChuana
we hear:-
motho o molele (a long man). Class 1
noxa e telele (a long snake). Class 9
with permutation where one would expect it. In SeSuto and SePedi, however,
the permuted form telele is used everywhere,
motho o motelele, etc.,1
and seems to have ousted the original form.

Permutation in the case of Syllabic 1
152. This is best explained from the example :-
llela (to cry for) o a ntelela (he cries for me)
This seems to indicate that the verb lla was once lela as in SeChuana.
That being so, the old form of the verb is used in this context, and the
permutation is quite regular.

1 Note in SeChuana: leina ge letelele (a long name), Cl. 5, showing that the permuted
form is gaining ground even in that language. (The SeSuto in this case would be leina le



153. In dealing with most Bantu languages the investigator, and above
all the prospective alphabet-builder, has to realize that at each place of
articulation it is possible to have three types of plosive consonant-aspirated,
unaspirated, and voiced. Many early investigators, familiar only with the
voiced and breathed plosive consonants of their European mother tongue,
have caused endless confusion by failing to notice the two types of breathed
154. The breathed aspirated plosive.-This is a very easy type for the
average Englishman to grasp, since English breathed plosives, especially
in emphasized syllables, are usually pronounced with a certain degree of
" puff following the release of the closure. This puff is more emphasized
in Suto-Chuana than in English. In our notation, and in that of nearly all
orthographers, this aspiration is indicated by the letter h immediately following
the symbol for the explosion. Thus: ph th kh.
155. The breathed unaspirated plosive.-This type of plosive is usually
easy for the average French man to grasp, since French breathed plosives
are noted for the absence of puff which characterizes the English breathed
plosives. In Suto-Chuana these unaspirated plosives are often accompanied
by simultaneous glottal closure, whence the plosives are often given the
name ejectivee ". Where present, this glottal closure is released simul-
taneously with or just after the oral release. In the Northern Transvaal
there is no simultaneous glottal closure, and the plosive is very weak, reminding
one of the devoiced b d g heard in the pronunciation of many English
speakers. Ejective consonants are conveniently represented by suffixing
an apostrophe to the symbol representing the sound. Thus: p' t' k'.
In this work, however, the sounds are represented by p t k, with the
convention that they may be pronounced ejectively.
156. The voiced plosive.--Where the voiced plosives occur, the voicing
is very full, as in French. Thus : b d. (g does not occur in any of our three
languages, d is found only in SeSuto. SePedi has no voiced plosives.)

The Bi-labial Plosives

157. The lip-articulation here is as in English and Afrikaans, i.e. the
under lip approaches the upper. (Not as in German and Scandinavian, where
the upper lip also approaches.) In ScChuana the ejective quality is more
noticeable than in SeSuto and SePedi. The plosive occurs before all vowels.
In SeSuto, when followed by i, its explosion is accompanied by a slight palatal


friction, a peculiarity due to the tongue's having taken up the position for
the following vowel during the building up of the labial closure.
Examples of p:-
SeSuto SeChuana SePedi
pitsi (zebra) pitse pitse
pelo (heart) pelo pelo
lepElla (to hang) pexa pEkwa (hawk)
pata (to hide) lapa (to be tired) lapa
pollo (bull) poo poo
podi (goat) poli poloko (salvation)
pula (rain) pula pula
p also occurs as the permutation of u (or b). See 94.

158. The aspirated plosive likewise occurs in all three languages before
all vowels, and is as common as the unaspirated form. In SeSuto, when ph is
followed by i, the same phenomenon is present as noticed under p followed by i.
Here the palatal friction is much more noticeable, and in fact often endures
throughout the aspiration, so that the syllable phi in a narrow transcription
could be truthfully transcribed pFi. Similarly, when ph is followed by u,
the aspiration takes the form of lip-rounded velar friction, so that the syllable
phu, in a narrow transcription, could most accurately be transcribed phu.
Examples of ph:-
SeSuto SeChuana SePedi
phiri (wolf) phiri phiri
phefo (wind) phefo phefo
phEfla (to cook) phepha (to be weak) phetha (to fulfil)
phaphatha (to pat) phaxs (wild cat) phala (trumpet)
phot4a (to wash face) pholofolo phoofolo (animal)
pholo (ox) pholo pholo
phutha (to collect) phutha phut(h)i duikerr)
ph also occurs as the permutation of f (or f). See 90.

159. The voiced bilabial plosive b is to be found in SeSuto and SeChuana,
but corresponding words in SePedi are pronounced with the bilabial fricative u.
The sound is fully voiced, and occurs before all vowels.
For examples see under u, 93.

Compound Labial Plosives
160. Both in SeSuto and in SePedi are heard plosives with double
articulation-an explosion at the lips accompanied by simultaneous lingual


ps and psh
In SePedi the unaspirated and aspirated types of compound labio-
sibilant plosive occur as permutations of uz and fs respectively. Examples :-
uzala (to sow) psalo (sowing 1)
selo se sifsa (a new thing) dilo tJe mpsha (new things 2)
There are also one or two words in pshi which correspond to Suto and
Chuana words in phi, and whose existence can only be explained by inferring
a previous palatalizing process such as is now heard in the Suto syllable phi.
Examples :-
SaPedi SeSuto SeChuana
pshiu (kidneys) phio phi(1)o
pshikoloya (to roll) phikolofia phikoloxa
pshina (to enjoy) phina
The s-element is very sharp and thin, having an almost e-like quality.
pf and pfh
161. Both in SeSuto and SePedi there are compound labio-semi-
sibilant plosives, both unaspirated and aspirated, which we may write pf and
pfh respectively, although the J- element seems more palatal and q-like than
in the case of normal J. In the following examples note the corresponding
words in SeChuana:-
SeSuto S3Pedi SeChuana
pfat4a (to cook well)
pfempfete (kind of bird)
(ntja) mpfa (dog) (ntja) 3
pfhat4a (to smash) pjhat4a
mpfhe (ostrich) mpJhe (ntJhe)
pjhemofia (to work loose) tshomoya (Jomoxa)
In SeSuto the lower jaw is protruded during the building of the occlusion,
giving the face a temporary prognathic appearance, and there seems a hint
of lip-rounding.
162. In SeSuto alone have I met with a voiced variety of compound
plosive. It is pronounced sometimes with lip-rounding, sometimes without,
but usually accompanied by the above-mentioned prognathic protrusion of
the lower jaw. Examples of words containing b3 are rare, the following being
the best known:-
b3a: (spotless white)
b3ara (to smash utterly)
b3ab3aretsa (to crunch-as a lion crunches the bones of its prey).
1 Compare 3ala and tjalo in SeSuto and SeChuana.
2 Compare selo se seoa and Jilo tse lintjha inSeChnana.
3 It is interesting to note that in the Chuana dialect SeMangwato the word is mpsa.


The Alveolar Plosives
163. In SeSuto the tongue tip position is the same as in English. The
sound is often ejective, and when strongly emphasized is apt to be slightly
retroflex in order to give a cleaner explosion. Both my MoPedi and MoChuana
in England pronounce a fairly dental t, but both agree that dentality is not
an essential for good pronunciation, and that many speakers use the alveolar t.
The sound occurs before all vowels.
Examples of t:-
SeSuto SeChuana SePedi
tia (to be firm) tiia tiia
teta (to strike) teg (deep) telele (long)
tEa (to forge) tEps (watery) tetelo (delay)
tadima (to look at) tala (green) tau (lion)
noto (hammer) noto noto
tonna (huge) tonna tona
tumelo (belief) tumelo tumslo
t also occurs as the permutation of 1 and 1 (d). See 149.

164. The aspirated plosive likewise occurs before all vowels, and is as
common as the unaspirated form. The articulation is clean cut, without the
lisping affricative effect as heard so often in Cockney English pronunciation of
a word like tea-time. In SeSuto, when th is followed by i, the aspiration
is considerably palatalized, but not to such an extent as in the case of ph.
Examples of th:-
SeSuto SeChuana SePedi
thiba (to block) thiba thiua
theofia (to descend) thelesa (to entertain) thenola (to upset)
thEbE (shield) thEbe theue
thaba (mountain) thaka (friend) that (strong)
thola (to pick up) thoba (to break through) thoma (to begin)
motho (person) motho motho
thupa (to explode) thupa thupa
th also occurs as the permutation of r. See 139.

165. The voiced alveolar plosive occurs alone in SeSuto, and is member
of the 1-phoneme.' There has been considerable discussion as to the nature
of this phone, Doke in a footnote to Jacottet's Grammar of the Sesuto Language
(p. 8) maintaining that the back of the tongue touches the velum during the
articulation. My experience is that it is pronounced by the great majority
1 See under 1, 143.


of the BaSuto as a strongly voiced alveolar plosive.1 It occurs only before
i and u.
Examples: ditau (lions) madi (blood)
dula (to sit down) ditedu (beard)
In the current orthography of SeSuto the symbol 1 is used without ambiguity
to cover both 1 and d. There are, however, some words with d-spellings-
loan words out of English, e.g. Davida (David), daimane (diamond), dinare
(dinner). It is interesting to note that these words are usually pronounced
tafita, taimane, tinare.

The Velar Plosives
166. The unaspirated velar plosive occurs in all three languages before
all vowels, and may be pronounced ejectively. As in English, but perhaps to
a greater extent, it is subject to palatal assimilation before front vowels.
Examples of k :-
SeSuto SeChuana SePedi
kikit4~la (to pull out) kile (once) moreki (buyer)
ke (1st pers. pron.) ke ke
kae (where ?) kae kae
gko (nose) Iko iko
kobo (blanket) lekoto (leg) mo3ako (door)
kubu (hippo) kua (to shout) iku (sheep)
k also occurs as the permutation of former y, since lost. See 135.
167. An aspirated form with velar friction is heard in all three languages.
The articulation point is normally very far back, and often introduces uvular
scrape. In SeSuto, before i, the articulation point is considerably fronted, and
the aspiration palatalized, so that in a narrow transcription one could almost
write c9. Again before u the scrape is softened so that in a narrow transcrip-
tion one could almost write kh. This type of plosive (it is really an affricate)
is heard before all vowels.
Examples of kxh:-
SeSuto SeChuana SePedi
kxhit4a (to poke) akxhile 2 kxhit4a (to bash)
kxhetla (shell) kxhet4a kxhena (to knee-
kxhaka (guinea-fowl) kxhaka kxhaka
kxhoro (path) kxhole (riem) kxholwa (to be un-

1Such also was the result given by a palatographic experiment with Skye as subject.
2 Perfect tense of akxha (to hang downward).


SeSuto SeChuana SePedi
kxhomo (ox) kxhomo kxhomo
kxhutsa (to seize) sekxhupi sekxhupi (stumbling-
kxh also occurs as the permuted form of fi (in SeSuto), x (in SeChuana),
and y (in SePedi). See 124-6.
168. In SeChuana and SePedi the aspirated k without velar scrape is
also heard, usually before u and o. In fact the combination khu is more
common than kxhu.
Examples of kh:-
SeChuana SePedi
khupo (holding in mouth) sekhupi (one who holds)
khulu (tortoise) khulu
khuno) (red) khunoi
kholi (ostrich nest) khora (to be satisfied)
mokhukho (tracking)
khukhama (to collapse)
khukhela (to track)
mokhukheli (tracker)
khiba (apron)
kh also occurs as the permutation of h in SeChuana and h in SePedi.
(See 129 and 134.)
Brown in his dictionary gives many more SeChuana words in kh, which,
however, do not agree with the pronunciation given me by Motsete.
Whether kh occurs as a separate phomene from kxh in SeSuto is a moot
point, the softening of the velar scrape before u making it very difficult to
judge. Skye makes a difference in the following words :-
kxhutsa (to seize), kxhupa (to stumble), and
khutsa (to stop), khudu (tortoise), khunoi (red).
Certainly, before all other vowels kxh is regularly heard. The current
orthography uses the symbols kh throughout.
The Glottal Plosive
169. The glottal plosive only occurs when the native wishes to accentuate
or pronounce clearly a word or word-stem commencing with a vowel. Thus a
MoSuto will often say mo'afii (a builder) .instead of moafli, to make sure of its
being distinguished from mofiafii (an inhabitant). Or a MoChuana will say
xo 'ela (to flow) instead of xo ela, to make sure of its being distinguished from
xo 6Ela (to fall towards).
Apart from similar cases of emphasis, the glottal plosive does not exist
as a separate speech sound in Suto-Chuana. It must be remembered, however,
that as element in unaspirated consonants pronounced ejectively, its function
is very important.
1 Noun agent from kxhopa (to stumble).



170. An affricate is a kind of plosive consonant, in the pronunciation of
which the closure is released more slowly than in the case of a normal plosive,
so that the corresponding homorganic fricative is heard to accompany the
explosion. It differs from a compound plosive in that it has only one place
of articulation and not two. Like the plosives, the breathed affricates in our
group may be aspirated or unaspirated (in which case they are sometimes
ejective). There is no voiced affricate phoneme in this language group.
171. The articulation area of all the affricates is the palato-alveolar area.
There are no labial affricates, and the velar affricate kxh I have found more
convenient to discuss under plosives ( 167).

The Alveolar Affricates ts and tsh

172. The elements of the unaspirated alveolar affricate are the same
as in the English word its, with the distinction that the sound occurs initially
in syllables, and is often ejective. It occurs before all vowels in SeSuto and
SePedi, but never before back vowels in SeChuana, where it is replaced by tf.
SeSuto SePedi SeChuana
tsikipa (to jingle) tsikipa tsikipa
tsebisa (to announce) tseuifa tsebisa
tsEbE (ear) tseue tsebe
tsamaea (to depart) tsamaea tsamaea
letsoflo (hand) letsoyo letfoxo
tsoma (to hunt) tsoma tfoma
tsukupa (to rinse) tfukupa
ntsupi (peak)

173. The aspirated affricate may be compared to the German pro-
nunciation of z in zehn, except that the aspiration is even stronger than ever
heard in German. The consonant occurs before all vowels in SeSuto and
SePedi,' but never before back vowels in SeChuana, where it is replaced by tJh.

1 The sound is very seldom heard before U in SePedi, motshuli (a town in Bechuanaland)
being the only example Monare knows.


Examples :-
SeSuto SePedi SeChunana
tshila (dirt) tshipi (iron) tshipi
tshela (to cross) tshela tshela
tshefia (to laugh) tshEya tshexa
tshadi (female) tshali tshali
tshopha (to twine) tshopha tfhopha
tsholo (dishing up) tsholo tfhol
tshumu (white-faced) (tJhumu) tfhumu
tsh also occurs as the permutation of s. See 109.

The Palato-Alveolar Affricates tJ and tfh
174. The average European learner of one of these languages is apt to
substitute his articulation of English tf for the palato-alveolar affricate.
If he can make the distinction between aspirated and unaspirated, he is easily
understood, and the native will accept his pronunciation without comment.
I have found, however, considerable difference between the affricates of
SeSuto on the one hand and SePedi and SeChuana on the other.
In the former the tongue tip touches the alveolar, and the blade plays
little or no part. Such affricates may be called tongue rim affricates "-
to borrow a phrase from Doke. In SePedi and SeChuana, however, the tip
of the tongue seems depressed, and the blade brought more into play. In
SeChuana even part of the front of the tongue is employed.

175. To save symbols the letters tf are employed here to indicate
this affricate. Strictly speaking, cf would be more accurate where SePedi
and especially SeChuana is concerned. The sound may be ejective, and
occurs before all vowels (except u in SeSuto). There are very few words in tJ
common to all three languages.
SeSuto SeChuana SePedi
tjikitFjla (to throw a stick) tfit4a (to despise) tfiE (locust)
tfeka (to dance) tfet4a (to knead clay) tje (these)
ntfa (dog) ntfa uitfa (to call)
tjotfo (a type of mouse) pitjo (meeting) pitfo
tfobolo (a type of bird) tfokotJa (to rinse) tjoka (to wag)
tfubua (to agitate) tfuuut4a
tJ before front vowels is very rare in SeChuana; before back vowels it
corresponds to SeSuto ts.
tJ also occurs as the permutation of 3. See 113.


176. The aspirated affricate likewise occurs before all vowels,1 but there
are very few words in tjh common to all three languages.
SeSuto SeChuana SePedi
tfhitJa hornlesss) tjhitJa tfhipa (ant-bear)
tjheko (crowbar) ntJhe (ostrich) tJhekhu (crowbar)
tJhsfia (to trap) ntjhs (sugar cane) tJhela (to pay tax)
ntJha (new) ntjha tJhaua (to fear)
tjhotjhomela (to zig-zag) tJhopha (to twist)
tJhopha (to dog) ntJho (black) tJhoya (to dread)
tfhutJhuma (to puff) tJhutjhuma tJhupa (maggot)
tJh also occurs as the permutation of J. (See 109.)

The Relationship between ts and tJ in Suto-Chuana
177. SeSuto ts corresponds to SeChuana ts in words common to both
languages, wherever the sound is followed by one of the front vowels i e E or
by a. Before back vowels or when labialized, it corresponds to labialized tJ
in SeChuana. (See 172, and also Labialization ", Ch. X.)
178. SeSuto ts corresponds sometimes to ts and sometimes to tJ in SePedi.
As in the case of s and J, one has here to apply to some common parent of the
two languages for an explanation. Again using Ur-Bantu as hypothetical
model parent, one notices that when ts is common to both languages, the words
seem to be derived from stems in *y or *u, i.e. in velar or labial consonants.
Examples of words where SeSuto ts = SePedi ts:-
SeSuto SePedi Ur-Bantu
tseba (to know) tseua *yiua
tsela (path) tsela *yila
motse (village) motse *mu-yi
metse (water) metse *-iYi
letsofio (arm) letsoyo *uoko
tsofia (to stand up) tsoya *uuka
tsoma (to hunt) tsoma *uuima
tswara (to put on) tswara *uiata
utswa (to steal) utswa *yi-ua
letswelE (breast) letswele *uele
latswa (to taste) latswa *lamba
4atswa (to wash) 4atswa *kamba
(Note the labialization accompanying the labial derivatives.)

1 I have been unable to find tjh before 3 in SePedi, but Endemann gives tfhStfhomela
(to fall on) and tfhotfhoma (to roast) in his W6rterbuch.


179. Where SeSuto ts corresponds to SePedi tf, we can usually trace
an hypothetical parent stem in *1.
Examples of words where SeSuto ts = SePedi tJ :-
SeSuto SePedi Ur-Bantu
tswa (to come out) tJwa *lia
butswa (to ripen) uutfwa *uill
metsa (to swallow) metfa *mila
bitsa (to call) uitfa *uila
letsa (to play flute) letfa *lila
fetsa (to finish) fetfa *pela
SeSuto tsiE (locust) corresponding to SePedi tfic (Ur-Bantu *yiye) must
be cited here as the only exception I have so far found.
The Relationship between tsh and tJh in Suto-Chuana
180. As in the case of s and ts, SeSuto tsh corresponds to SeChuana tsh
in words common to both languages, wherever the sound is followed by one
of the front vowels i e E or by a. Before the back vowels u o o or when
labialized, it corresponds to labialized tjh in SeChuana. (See 173, and
also "Labialization ".)
181. SeSuto tsh corresponds sometimes to tsh and sometimes to tJh
in SePedi. Where tsh and tJh are alternatives or permutations of s and J
respectively, they will naturally fall under the rules discussed in connection
with s and J. (See 104 et seq.)
Where tsh is common to both languages, SePedi has usually an alternative
pronunciation in s, and these words seem to be derived from stems in *k or *p,
i.e. velar or labial consonants, with labialization in the case of the labial
consonants. (Compare 108.)
Examples of words where SeSuto tsh = SePedi tsh:-
SeSuto SePedi Ur-Bantu
tshadi (female) tshali *kali
tshEfia (to laugh) tsheya *keka
tswhana (to resemble) tswhana *pi-ana
tswhara (to grasp) tswhara *pyata
182. Where SeSuto tsh corresponds to SePedi tJh, we can usually trace
an hypothetical parent stem in *t.
SeSuto SePedi Ur-Bantu
tshaba (to fear) tfhaua *yitaua
tshela (to pour) tJhela *ita
tshepi (iron) tjhipi *-timbi
Note, however, the following exceptions :-
tshila (dirt) tfhila *-kila
ntshi (fly) ntfhi *-yi
tswheu (white) tjwheu *-yelu


To these are added the following words whose Ur-forms I have not
yet been able to discover in any of the works of Bantu philologists:-
tshika (sinew) tJhika
tshupa (maggot) tJhupa
tswhene (baboon) tfwhene
Altogether the material in this section is too scanty to permit of
dogmatizing. The reader's attention is directed to similar "exceptions in
179, and also in 106.

The Alveolar Lateral Affricates t4 and t4h

183. As in the case of the lateral fricative, in articulating the lateral
affricates the air may escape on either side of the tongue, or even on both
sides. Most natives, however, are unilateral in this respect, my experience
being that the right side is the more popular.


184. The lateral unaspirated affricate has the effect of a t exploded
laterally. For this reason it might be classified as a plosive, but the relation
which the aspirated consonant bears to the lateral fricative makes this
undesirable. In t4the ejective quality is much more marked than in the case of
other unaspirated plosives and affricates ; in fact some few investigators have
mistaken it for a click, owing to its sharp articulation. In all school spellings
it is represented tl; such a representation is, however, false, as the lateral
element is decidedly not voiced. The affricate occurs in all three languages
before all vowels. Examples:-

SeSuto SeChuana SePedi
t4isa (to bring) t4isa t4ifa
t4etse (full) t4etse t4emolla (to
(perf. of t4ala) loosen)
t4srEfala (to turn red) t4Ela (to accompany) t4'ma (to bind)
t4a (to come) t4a t4a
t4ola (to smear) t4ola t4oka (to preen)
t4ou (elephant) t4ou t4ou
t4ur (inside) t4ukuma (to rattle) t4ukumiJa (to feel


185. The aspirated affricate t4h has different uses in all three languages.
In SeChuana it occurs throughout where the other two languages have the
corresponding fricative 4. (See 115.) Compare the following:-


SeChuana SeSuto and SePedi
tihEtiha (to trot) 4E4a
tihet4hile (perf. of above) 4e4ile
t4hoa (to hate) 4toea
t4holia (to annoy) 4odiea
186. In SeSuto and SePedi tih exists usually as the permutation of 4.
(See 116 et seq.) There are, however, a few 4-words, especially in SeSuto,
which have an alternative and more popular pronunciation in tih.1 Compare
the following:-
SeSuto: nt4ha (tip), t4hako (hoof), set4hare (medicine), t4hapi (fish),
t4haku (grain of corn), tihoi (hedgehog), t4homola (to pull out a thorn),
t4whare (fabulous snake).
SePedi: nt4ha, t4hako, seiare (tree), 4api, 4aku, ioi, iomola, 4ware
In none of the three languages have I been able to discover t4h before u.

1 The old SeSuto hymn-books, etc., are, however, full of tlh spellings, which everybody
now repudiates. This can only be due to the first investigators having taken as their material
SeTaung, which, like SeChuana, has t4h for 4.

187. SeSuto is the only language of the Suto-Chuana group, extending
as it does to the Zambesi, which incorporates click-words in its vocabulary.
There are five types of click heard in the South African native languages:-
e the bi-labial click,
) the dental click,
a the pre-palatal click,
C the palato-alveolar click (sometimes called cerebral click),
the lateral click,
most common in the Bushman and Hottentot languages, and least common
in SeSuto.'
188. In SeSuto there is only one recognized genus of click-the palato-
alveolar C.2 The back of the tongue is pressed against the velum in the position
for k, and the tip against the teeth-ridge, without touching the teeth. The
middle of the tongue is then depressed, causing a rarefaction of air. For
the implosion the tip of the tongue is drawn sharply backward and downward.
The whole tongue muscle is very rigid, and there is no sloppy double flap
as often heard when Europeans attempt the sound. The acoustic effect
resembles somewhat a cork being drawn out of a bottle. (Most parrots can
accomplish it to perfection !) I have reason to believe that the Suto click
rings out more than its equivalent in Zulu and Xosa.3

189. The unaspirated click occurs before all vowels. There is no
perceptible pause between the click and the following vowel, the velar closure
being quietly released subsequent to the front closure, so that one does not as
a rule hear any k-sound. Before the close vowels i and u a clear click is difficult
to produce, and the implosion is very slight. Some natives voice the
click in this position, and I have even heard others substitute I for it.
Examples of c:-
cilacila (to stamp up and down)
cetetsa (to finish a meal)
c[ta (to finish)
cala (to begin)
cokwa (grass for thatching)
cotha (to pluck a fowl)
Cubu (heap)
1 For a detailed description of the clicks in Zulu see Doke, Phonetics of the Zulu Language,
ch. xi.
2 Some authorities think the dental click I was the original Suto click, and that C has
usurped its place. I have even come across rare cases of I used throughout for C.
3 My description of the physiological mechanism of the click is based largely on
palatographic experiments made in London with Skye as subject. The click is not retroflex as
in the Bushman languages.


190. The aspirated click is easier to pronounce than the unaspirated
(at least for Europeans). The rush of air following the implosion bursts the
velar closure, so that we sometimes hear a kh immediately following the click
and preceding the subsequent vowel. Ch occurs before all vowels.
Examples :-
chitsane (weeping-eyed person)
lecheku (old man)
Chesa (to be bandy)
Chala (to scatter)
Chocha (to recruit)
choma (to explode like pop-corn)
Chucha (to trot)

191. Whether a nasal click exists as a separate phoneme or not is a moot
point. It never occurs except after a nasal consonant, which itself is always
syllabic, as before a plosive. The dictionary gives alternative spellings nq
and ng.
One of the test words I applied throughout Basutoland occurred in
the phrase ka ncane (on the other side). Two principal pronunciations
resulted :-
ka ncane, with a pause after the n, during which the two occlusions for
the click were made, and
ka njane, wherein the nasal element (with velar as well as alveolar
closure) persisted throughout the articulation of the click.
In each case the click was preceded by syllabic n, but in the first case
the nasal element ended before the implosion, while in the other it persisted
throughout the click and joined on to the following vowel a-not as n but as n.
Each type of pronunciation was vigorously supported by its upholders as the
one and only true type.
sintu (Orange River) I have never heard with a nasal click, and oa ncosa
(he accuses me) and oa nctna (he dislikes me) only rarely.
192. That the clicks have been introduced into the language is an
accepted fact, and the Bushmen are usually held responsible for them.' It is
indeed true that they occur largely in place names like cuthig, catjha, sincu, and
Basutoland is known to have been inhabited by Bushmen early last century.
Again, SeSuto has borrowed many words from Zulu and Xosa, and several
click words undoubtedly come from those languages. I append a short list
of SeSuto click words with their corresponding forms in Zulu and Xosa.
Whether all these words are to be regarded as borrowings from these two
languages, or whether all three languages are to be regarded as having
I Jacottet is of the opinion (p. ix) that SeSuto borrowed its clicks from old SeTlokoa and
SeKholokoe. This I am inclined to doubt. Transvaal SeTlokoa, found near Pietersburg,
has no clicks.


borrowed independently from a fourth (like Bushman or Hottentot), I do not
venture to say. The main thing to notice is that SeSuto has c corresponding
to 4, C, and 5, in Zulu-Xosa.
Examples :-
SeSuto Zulu-Xosa
caca (to be plain)' ala
cEba (to slander) 4eba
cEka (to flatter) 19Ega
cEla (to beg) jEla
cokwa (Tamboekie grass) isiluJga
cala (to begin) cala
capa (to invent) camba
(Eta (to finish) CEda
cEna (to dislike) Jena
lecwha (ice) icwha
chatha (to pull down) chaCha
choba (to drive on) chuba
choma (to burst) Chuma
Chochotho (larynx) uthoChocho
thucha (to trot) chucha
cathola (to pull off) batula
coca (to chatter) boba
lec le (left hand) Sels
nca (nja) (side) i3a
Chapha (to lap) bhapha
chatsa (to pour out) ngbaza
193. Whether clicks are a late introduction or not is uncertain. Mabille
thinks they have been scarcely fifty years in the language. It is true that
the first hymn books and New Testament to be printed in SeSuto (about
1850) take no account of clicks at all. This, however, may be explained
by the fact that the first missionaries to analyse the language used as their
models the BaTaung, whose language, being a Chuana dialect, had no clicks.





The Influence of Front Vowels on Preceding Syllables
194. We have seen ( 68 et seq.) how a back vowel can affect not only
a preceding consonant in the same syllable, but even a front vowel in a preceding
syllable, e.g. gku e kxholo is often pronounced gku eo kxholo, e being
replaced by the diphthong eo.
Front vowels can also exercise this influence to a limited extent, and
convert a pure back vowel in a previous syllable to a diphthong.
Examples :-
In SeSuto thola (to pick up) is often pronounced th6ala, the 6a being a
diphthong and not a sequence of two vowels; this is in fact the typical
pronunciation of Suto children in the Free State. It has gone even further
in the pronunciation of some young natives, who now say twhala, i.e. the
o has completely disappeared, and only the lip-rounded th remains to indicate
its historic existence. Compare the SeChuana and SePedi recognized pro-
nunciation twhala. Compare also SeSuto nola (to write) with SePedi iwala,
and inversely SePedi 4ola (to spy) with SeSuto 4wela.
Other instances in SeSuto are:-
legaol (knee) with occasional pronunciation lexgwelE
lekote (sod) ,, ,,, lekwete
lerole (dust) ,, ,, lerwele
lesole (young calf) ,, ,, ,, leswele
cuthih (district in Basutoland) ,, ,, ,, cwithil
ba4ubi (Eastern Suto tribe) ,, ,,, ba4wibi
robala (to sleep) ,, ,, ,, rwabala
This type of vowel harmony is looked upon with deep disgust by the older
natives, even by those who allow their back vowels to assimilate foregoing
front vowels. They are inclined to put it down to SeRolong influence, and
it is true that the phenomenon is to be noticed more in the Free State than
in Basutoland. It is absent, however, in the speech of the pure BaRolong I
have encountered ; note, however, the SeChuana word maoxox (badger), which
when personified becomes maxoxwe (Mr. Badger).

The Influence of Close Vowels on Preceding Syllables
195. A type of vowel harmony common to all three languages is what
may be compared perhaps to Umlaut" in Germanic. The general rule
is that when a suffix containing a close vowel is added to a stem containing

1 Endemann seems to regard these forms as the older forms, and the SeSuto forms as
contractions (see Grammatik des Sotho, p. 12, 19). See also Merging of Vowels ( 201).


a more open vowel, the latter is nearly always replaced by a vowel closer than
itself. Roughly we can say:-

a are harmonized to
e remains
e (or is harmonized to
i. remains
o is harmonized to
9 remains
o lor is harmonized to
u remains

e (never to e)
e (never harmonized to e)
9 (never to o)
o (never harmonized to o)

Observation.-Those speakers who do not normally distinguish between
the open and close varieties of e and o, never permute these vowels to i and u
in those words where their fellow speakers would use e and o. (See 64,
note 2.)
Examples :-
196. The locative suffix -j (historically -ni) furnishes the best examples
(taken here from SeChuana).

tsela (path)
lewat4I (sea)
ntjhe (ostrich)



kxhosi (chief)
gko (nose)
molomo (mouth)
ntio (hut)
pelo (heart)
khulu (tortoise)

locative tsele1 I

Often the assimilation affects the antepenultimate syllable, if it contains
a or E.

noka (hip)
pholofolo (animal)
tshEphs (springbok)
letsEtse (flea)


1 Jacottet notes the following exception in SeSuto (Grammar, p. 62):-
mo-a (time) locative mo-aij. Note, however, that
me4a (plur.) ,, me4ei is regular.


197. Other suffixes which exercise this form of assimilation are -ile (and
all perfect tense suffixes), -isa 1 (and all causative suffixes), and -i (noun agent
suffix), which affect the vowels in verb stems.
Examples (from SeChuana):-
rska (to buy), rekile, (perf.), rekisa (caus.), moreki (buyer),
fetsa (to finish), felitse (perf.), felisa (caus.), mofetsi (one who finishes),
betsa (to beat), belitse (perf.), belisa (caus.), mmitsi (one who beats),
bona (to see), bope (perf.), bontsha (caus.), mmoni (seer),
t4otsa (to smear), tiolitse (perf.), t4otsisa (caus.), mot9otsi anointerr),
roka (to sew), rokile (perf.), rokisa (caus.), moruki (tailor).
Some of the negative tenses of verbs also involve vowel harmony.
xa ke reke (I do not buy), xa ke bone (I do not see).

198. The labialization of a following consonant, either for forming the
passive of a verb or the diminutive of a noun, can also bring about the closing "
of a stem vowel.2
Examples :-
lefa (to pay) pass. lefwa (in SeSuto) lifqa (in SePedi)
fepa (to nurse) fstjwa fepia
thopa (to capture) thotJwa thupqa
bofa (to tie on back) bofwa uofqa
selepE (axe) dimin. seletswana (SeSuto and SePedi)
se4opha (crowd) seiotswhana

199. The vowel a, except in the case of the locative ending -i, is not
affected by following close vowels.3 Thus : rata (to love), ratile (perf.),
ratisa (caus.), morati (lover), ratwa (passive).
The vowels E and o, however, are so susceptible to the influence of close
vowels that they are hardly ever to be found followed in a succeeding syllable
by vowels i or u, or even by e or o.4

The Merging of Vowels
200. Another type of vowel harmony is found when two vowels come
together in the chain of speech. We have already seen ( 72) how e and

1 -ija in SePedi.
2 This is by no means true for all cases. Note: rEma (to cut) pass. reqwa, bona
(to see) pass. bonwa.
3 Notice the following exceptions, involving contraction of the verbal suffix as well:-
apara (to put on) perf. apere, cans. apesa
rwala (to carry) rwele rwesa.
4 Monare gives me setJhepi (well-dressed man) as one of the few examples to be found.


especially o, when immediately followed by another vowel, tend to become semi-
vowels, e.g. in SePedi-e upya (but) tends towards eupya
moeti (traveller) ,, moeti or even mweti,
in which case all that remains of the o is a labialization of the initial consonant.
Where this has been the case in the history of the language, occasional
tone factors sometimes afford a revelation, e.g. SeSuto and SeChuana Iwana
(child) has SePedi equivalent jwana, indicating a previous form mohna.2

201. Other vowel mergings are found in the following combinations:-

a + i > a or E.

a + e> E or e.

Compare lei4o (eye) with plural ma4o (with dialectal
variation mailo)
Compare leino (tooth) with plural meno (with dialectal
variation main)
Compare in SeChuana neo (gift) with nasa (to give)
peo (place) baea (to place)
Compare betsi (daughters in law) (from *baetsi) with sing.
nwetsi (from *moetsi)

Compare bej (masters)
Compare SeSuto and SeChuana
the SePedi equivalent
a previous form

(from *baei) with sing.
(from *moen)
metsi (water) with
metsi, indicating

202. When two similar vowels come together in the chain of speech,
they are nearly always merged into one, e.g. in SeChuana:-

showing that

xa A a ki a rEka (he did not buy) is always
xg a ka a rEka, the unusual tone on the first syllable
merging has taken place.

Compare also SeSuto and SeChuana band
with the SePedi word uana
derived from *uahna plur. of *mohna.

203. The 14th Class prefix uo- is often merged. Compare SeChuana
boboko (brains) with SePedi uqoko and SeSuto boko. Compare also bupe (meal)
varying with boope in SeChuana.

The Elision of Vowels
204. Nearly all cases of double consonants in Suto-Chuana (mm, nn,
jiji, ij, rr, 11) can be traced to vowel elision and the merging of the two
consonants into one syllabic consonant.

1 For the significance of the tone marks see Part IV of this treatise.
2 Labialized m has for some unknown reason been replaced by labialized I in the history of
the language group (see Ch. X, 215 and 219).


Examples :-
kea mmitsa (I call him) instead of *kea mo bitsa1
mmemi (convener) instead of *momemi (from mema = to invite).

Compare also :-
SeSuto mma (mother) with Zulu mama
,, monna (man) ,, monona found in some Northern Pedi
S lla (to weep) ,, SeChuana lela
Smollo (fire) ,, ,, molelo
Srakalla (to stretch ,, ,, rakalala

205. Note the following cases of elision, involving consonants as well:-
SePedi ke t4o rata (I shall love) for *ke t4a yo rata.
SeChuana ke t4a: rata.
SeSuto t4o kwano (come here !) for *t4a fio kwano.
Compare also SeSuto fas (his) with SeChuana xaxws.

1 See 247. On the analogy of the above, SeChuana also has
r kea moheta or
kea mheta (I pass him) instead of kea moaeta

kea m alafa (I cure him)
the m in each case being syllabic.

S kea mo alafa,


206. The question of the labialization of consonants before the vowels
i, e, E, a, is more complicated than one is at first inclined to believe. Most
authorities believe it to be the intrusion of a w-like sound between a consonant
and its succeeding vowel, and they write w, o, or u as the case may be, pro-
nouncing these combinations as we would pronounce those encountered in
the English words queen, twice, swarm. What actually happens, however,
is that the lips (and the back of the tongue where possible) take up the w
position during the formation of the consonant itself-one has only to watch
a native's lips to see this-so that the w-element persists throughout the
articulation of the sound, and is not a separate succeeding semi-vowel, as we
are given to understand from most of the books on the subject. The labialized
consonant is in short precisely the consonant one hears before a back vowel.1

207. The only book I have met with which points out this fact is the little
SeChuana Reader by Jones and Plaatje (written in phonetic script), where the
labialized J is even given another symbol 1. That is to say, f is written only
before the vowels a, E, e, i, while I occurs before all vowels. These authors,
however, do not invent new symbols for other labialized sounds, which they
would have been quite within their right to do.

208. To avoid adding a complete new system of letters representing
labialized consonants to our already full table, I think we should here have
recourse to digraphs, suffixing the symbol w to the sounds labialized. It is, how-
ever, to be understood that each digraph represents a single sound of double
articulation, not a sequence of sounds ending in w. In the case of aspiration,
the h should follow the digraph, since what we hear is a labialized sound
aspirated rather than an aspirated sound labialized. Here again we have to
study the native's mouth while saying a word such as tJwhana :-the aspiration,
or at least its final part, is totally unrounded, and links up with the vowel a.
There is no intrusive w; we do not hear wa after the aspiration. All the
lip-rounding and raising of the back of the tongue accompanies the tj-element.
Or again in a word like setJwana, if the explosive element is pro-
nounced ejectively, i.e. with simultaneous glottal closure, the word should
be transcribed setfw'ana (not setf'wana), as the unrounding of the lips
accompanies the release of the oral closure, while the glottal release follows both.
Examples of Non-Labial Consonants Labialized before the vowels a, E, e, i.
(To save reduplication of tables, I have taken the following examples,
except where otherwise stated, from SeSuto, which has to my knowledge the
most complete syllabary of labialized consonants.)

1 See Influence of Back Vowels on Preceding Consonants ( 68-9).


nwa (to drink), nwEla (to drown), nwele (perf. of nwa), senwi (drunkard).
sejwa (to be destroyed), jpwka (to undress), pwejwetsa (to whisper).
iwana (child), jwefia (to go off), qwedi (moonlight).
swaba (to fade),' leswE (moisture), swebe4a (to shake), leswiti (shadow of
Jwa (to nap), JwEswsra (to shave), Jwele (perf. of Jwa), Ro re Jwi (to sleep).
3wala (beer), 3wEla (to tell), 3wetsa (to tell), 3wilwe (eaten).
4wa (to climb),2 4wela (to spy), 4wepa (to change colour), 4wibila (to snatch).
letafiwa (drunkard),3 fiweba (to trade), fiwerefiana (to be agitated), fiwidika
(to make round).
lhwa (to die),4 hwela (to die for), hlwetfe (perf. of hwela), sehiwirihwiri (one
who sits on the fence ").
morwa (Bushman), rwEla (to carry on head), barwetsana (girls).
Iwa (to fight),5 IwEla (to fight for), Iwesa (caus. of Iwa).
ntwa (war), tweba (mouse), twet4a (edible plant), morutwi (one taught).
twha4a (to break), twhstwhe (to run like a bird), Ho twhe (it is said),
twhisa (to ruminate).
kwala (to shut), ikwe (leopard), kwena (crocodile), Ho re kwiditi (to swallow).
mokxwha (custom), kxwhsla (to become loose), kxwhedi (moon), kxwhiti
qkwha (booty),4 lekwhekwhe (scab), kwhetJo (finding), kwhiti (river bank).
tswa (to go out),' letswelE (breast), lentswe (voice), tswile (perf. of tswa).
tswhana (to be alike),' tswhela (to spit), tswhene (baboon), motswhi
tfwatJolotsa (to anoint), tjwetso (information).
tfwhabola and tfwhibiditsa (to put out quickly).

1 Labialized s,'ts, and tsh do not occur in SeChuana, whether before front vowels or back
vowels. Where the two languages have words in common, SeChuana has labialized f, tJ, and tJh
respectively. There are very few words in SeSuto containing labialized J, tj, and tJh, and of
these very few indeed have corresponding forms in SeChuana and SePedi.
2 In SeChuana there is no 4-, and hence no 4W. Words corresponding to SeSuto or SePedi
words in 4w have t4wh (see 115 and 185).
3 The A of SeSuto being pronounced normally with much voice, in this connection we very
often hear very little more than a rather breathy w. Thus: letawa, etc., especially between
vowels. In SeChuana the corresponding sound is labialized X, as in letaxwa, and in SePedi
labialized y, as in letaywa.
4 Labialized 1 and kh are to be heard in SePedi only.
6 I cannot find any cases of labialized 1 before i in SeSuto. Note, however, molwi (fighter)
in SeChuana and SePedi. In SeChuana, too, I have met with mooxoiwi (" brand pulled
from the burning "), passive noun derivative from oxola (to take out of the fire).


Clicks (in SeSuto only)
cwaea (to be afraid), cwEla (to plunge), cwele (egret), Cwidi (sort of leech).
cwhaela (to pin up), cwhela (to choke), Cwhetse (perf. of cwhela), flo re Cwhi
(to snap asunder).

209. There is no doubt that this labialization is descended from an
historical epenthetic o or u, which once had the value of a syllable and doubtless
a tone value as well. This syllable is now lost, and even the semi-vowel w
(as is heard in English or in the genitive particle 6a) is no longer heard; all
that remains is the labialized preceding consonant or consonant combination,
and it is the simultaneous unrounding of the lips and breaking of the con-
sonantal closure that has given investigators the impression of consonant + w
or unsyllabic 5.
210. Labialized consonants, as stated earlier, are identical in articulation
with the consonants found before back vowels. This phenomenon constitutes
an interesting phonemic problem. I shall take the labialized and unlabialized
forms of ts and tJ as examples :-
SeSuto bitsa (to call) has derived nominative form pitso, the ts being
strongly labialized by the o. In the same language, 4atswa (to wash) has
nominal form t4hatso, which should logically be transcribed tihatswo.
Since, however, the final syllable is just as strongly labialized in pitso, there
is no need to retain the labializing symbol w, and we can transcribe the word
In SeChuana bitsa (to call) has nominal form pitfo, with labialized tj,
and tthatfwa (to wash), nominal form t4hatfo, also with labialized tf. Here
again there is no need to write the labialization symbol before o.
If we are to regard labialized and unlabialized consonants as belonging
to different phonemes, then-
SeSuto ts would have the following syllabary:-
tsa tse tse tsi,
and SeSuto labialized ts the following:-
tswa tswE tswe tswi tso tso tsu.
SeChuana ts would have the following syllabary:-
tsa tsE tse tsi.
There is no labialized ts phoneme in SeChuana, its place being taken by
labialized tJ with the following syllabary:-
tjwa tfws. tfwe tjwi tJo tfo tfu.
(Professor Jones in his SeChuana Reader transcribes this last syllabary
in the following manner :-
cla c1e cle cli clo co clu.)
211. There can, however, be no ambiguity nor need for separate symbols
if we regard the back vowels o, o, u, and the symbol w as labialization symbols,
and pronounce all consonants followed by one of these four symbols with


simultaneous lip-rounding and raising of the back of the tongue. There is,
however, an additional factor governing labial consonants which has to be
treated separately.

The Labialization of Labial Consonants
212. Labialization of sounds which are already labial has puzzled many.
In SePedi the problem is at its clearest, and I shall therefore confine myself
temporarily to that language.
In labializing non-labial consonants, the native, as we have already
mentioned, rounds his lips and raises the back of his tongue. For convenience
we can call this type of labialization back labialization ".
In the case of labial sounds, however, the native rounds his lips and
raises the middle of his tongue instead of the back, with the result that we hear
a palatalized w running through the original consonant. To denote this, we
can conveniently suffix the I.P.A. symbol 1 to the labial sounds when
labialized. This type of labialization we may call "front labialization because
it is combined with a raising of the front of the tongue (i.e. that part of
the tongue opposite the hard palate).

213. A point worth noting here is that front labialized labial consonants
and labial consonants before back vowels do not fall together as in the case
of non-labial sounds. I shall take the case of phonemes u and uq in SePedi.
The u syllabary is as follows:-
ua uE ue ui uo uo uu,
the u before back vowels being pronounced with back labialization.
The urq syllabary is as follows:-
uvia uIE uile Uip uq1o,
the consonant in each case being pronounced with front labialization.
Thus, whereas in the case of ts and its labialized form, tso and tswo fall
together (and may both for convenience be written tso), vo and uio do not fall
together, but belong to totally different phonemes.

Examples of Front-labialized Labial Consonants
(These examples are all taken from SePedi, the only language of the
three to have front labialization.)
lifqa (to be paid), fiiEya (to fear), fqeyile (perf. of same), uqiai (grass),
uelfo (ours), mokxhalauie (old man), leuTIE (stone), uqoko (brains), uqono (this).

1 It must be borne in mind that this articulation is not so palatal as the French semi-vowe
in lui, for which the I.P.A. have given the same symbol. Neither does this symbol V represent
a separate semi-vowel pronounced after the labialized consonant, but a q-element running
throughout the articulation of the labial sound.


e upqa (but), thupqa hornlesss), uupya (to be built), pqhapiqha (to clap
hands), pqhapqhela (to clap hands for), 4opyha (to be heaped up), iopihilwe
(perf. of same).'
Observation.-Note the corresponding forms in SeSuto and SeChuana:-
(In SeSuto) lefwa,
3wai, beso (ours), le3we, boko, bona (this)
tjhitfa hornlesss), botJwa,
(In SeChuana) leJwa,
bo3al, lentjws, boboko, 3ono (this)
tfhotfa hornlesss), t4hotJwha.

Existing Processes of Labialization
214. Although the reasons underlying labialization may be regarded
as a philological rather than a phonetic matter, yet they are sufficiently
important to deserve notice here. The words tabulated in 208 and 213
containing labialized consonants are possibly derivatives whose parent stems
have for the most part disappeared from the living language. The great
majority of labialized words, however, are derived from other words in three
(a) In the case of a verb, the passive voice is often formed by labialization
of the consonantal element of the last syllable.
(b) In the case of a noun, the diminutive form is often made by labializa-
tion of the consonantal element of the last syllable, the elision of the final
vowel, and the suffixing of -ana or -ane.
(c) In the case of a verb, again, the causative form occasionally contains
labialized consonants. (This phenomenon is linked up with Palatalization ",
and is treated fully in Chapter XI.)

(a) The Passives of Verbs
215. The question of passives in SePedi may be solved very simply.
We must except monosyllabic verbs and verbs already containing labializa-
tion, the formation of whose passives is irregular. The regular procedure,
then, for the formation of the passive is to labialize the consonant com-
mencing the final syllable. A non-labial sound receives back-labialization,
and a labial sound receives front-labialization. m (and sometimes j) is replaced
by j with back-labialization.
i A mistake many authorities have made is to confuse front-labialized plosives with the
" Compound Labial Plosives mentioned in Chapter VI ( 161), i.e. pJ and pJh, neither of
which has lip-rounding. Thus:-
UupYa (to be built) is to be distinguished from
mpJa (dog)
and 4opqha (to be heaped up) is to be distinguished from
pfhatla (to smash).


Examples (non-labial consonants and m and jp):-


thopa (to capture)
ripa (to cut)
fEpa (to nurse)
uopa (to create)
phapha (to cleave)
kxhapha (to scoop)
4opha (to heap up)

(to leave)
(to help)
(to hide)
(to build)
(to do)
(to read)
(to love)
(to beat)
(to buy)
(to call)
(to refuse)
(to destroy)
(to send)

(Labial consonants)
(to tie on back)
(to pay)
(to cure)
(to be bitter)
(to know)
(eat two things together)
(to stab)

216. In SeSuto and SeChuana the back-labialization of non-labials and
m (and ]j) is the same as in SePedi.
Examples :

lesa (to leave)
afia (to build)
bala (to read)
rata (to love)
reka (to buy)
fiana (to refuse)
sepa (to destroy)
roma (to send)




pass. leswa
sepwa or seqwa

pass. uofqa
uauqa (to be ill)



In the case of labial consonants, front-labialization has been carried on
one step further. Whereas in SePedi the main articulation is at the lips and
the secondary articulation with the front of the tongue, in SeSuto and SeChuana
the palatal secondary articulation has become the main one, there is no more
lip contact, while the lip-rounding is combined with re-raising of the back of
the tongue. What we hear, then, are back-labialized palatals instead of front-
labialized labials. Thus instead of
fq we hear fw
uq ,, 3W
pq ,, tfw
pqh ,, tfwh
Active. Passive.
SeSuto. SeSuto. SeChuana.
bofa (to tie on back) bofwa boJwa
lefa (to pay) leJwa leJwa
tseba (to know) tsegwa tse3wa
4aba (to stab) 4a3wa t4ha3wa
Jaba (to eat two things together) Jagwa Ja3wa
thopa (to capture) thotJwa thotjwa
fepa (to nurse) fetfwa fstJwa
bopa (to create) botJwa botjwa
kxhapha (to scoop) kxhatjwha kxhatjwha
4opha (to heap up) totJwha t4hotJwha

Observation.-In Jacottet's Grammar of the SeSuto Language I have met
spellings like bofshoa, bopj6a, hlonepshoa (from lonepha = to honour),
showing that front-labialization is not unknown in SeSuto. I was unable,
however, to meet a single native in Basutoland who still uses these forms;
they are all regarded as old-fashioned.
In Wookey and Brown's Secoana Grammar I have also met spellings
like bopywa, bobywa" (from boba=to keep out of sight), but front-labializa-
tion to my knowledge is confined to dialects outside SeRolong and SeTlhaping.1

217. Historically speaking, there probably existed a passive-forming
suffix -wa or even dissyllabic oa. Then, as we have already noted in the case
of back vowels (Chap. III, 68), the back vowel o (or glide w as the case may
be) affected the previous consonant, which was likewise pronounced with lip-
rounding and raising of the back of the tongue, i.e. it was pronounced with
back-labialization. Thus :-
*ual6a, *ratba, *uof6a, *tseuba, *uop6a, *kxhaphia.

1 It is certainly present in SeKwena and SeNgwato.


The next period was that in which the o or w was elided, leaving the
strongly labialized consonant to mark where it had been. At the same time
the labial consonants affected front-labialization. Thus:-
ualwa, ratwa, uofqa, tseuqa, uoplpa, kxhapqha.
In SeSuto and SeChuana the third stage is reached, in which the palatal
element has become the chief element, and the labial element the subsidiary.
These consonants are now pronounced with back-labialization. Thus:
balwa, ratwa, (unaffected)
boJwa, tse3wa, botjwa, kxhatjwha.
Observation.-As regards the labialization of m, it is probable that the
mrq stage was also passed through-rom6a > romqa > rojwa. Front
labialized m is, however, not to be found at the present stage of development,
not even in SePedi, although a few Bantu languages outside the Suto-Chuana
group possess it.
218. The passive of a verb can also be formed by eliding the final vowel
and suffixing -iwa or -uwa to the original stem. Examples:-
ripa (to cut) ripiwa, rata (to love) ratuwa
betsa (to beat) bediwa, bopa (to create) bopuwa
disa (to herd) disiwa, roma (to send) romuwa
In such a case there is no front-labialization of labial consonants nor trans-
forming of labials to palatals. Perhaps as a consequence, the -iwa passive
construction is growing every year more popular among the younger genera-
tion of Suto-Chuana speakers.

(b) The Diminutives of Nouns
219.' The question of diminutives in SePedi, although not so simple as
that of passives, also hinges on the fact that there are two types of labializa-
tion. There seem to be three general rules, or rather tendencies, which affect
the formation of diminutives. These depend on whether the noun in question
ends in (A) the vowel -a, (B) a front vowel, (C) a back vowel.
A. The termination consonant + -a becomes
consonant + -ana or -ans.
Examples 1 :
noya (snake) dimin. noyana
leua (dove) levana
pheta (bead) phetana
mpja (dog) mpJana
B. The termination consonant + front vowel becomes
consonant + palatal glide + -ana or -ane (or
palatalized consonant + -ana or -ane).
This section is treated fully under Palatalization" (Chap. XI).
1 In SeSuto and SeChuana the process is the same, e.g. nofiana (noxana), lebana,
ntfana (little dog).



C. The termination consonant + back vowel becomes labialized conso-
nant + -ana or -ane.
Non-labial consonants receive back-labialization, labial consonants receive
front-labialization, m is replaced by with back-labialization.

Examples (non-labial consonants and m) :-

kxhoyo (fowl)
sejo (abscess)
maru (clouds)
mollo (fire)
leoto (foot)
gku (sheep)
malelu (beard)
khulu (tortoise)
leino (tooth)
kxhomo (ox)
tJhemo (field)

dimin. kxhoywana
maletjwana 1

In SeSuto and SeChuana the back-labialization of non-labials and m is
the same as in SePedi:-
kxhofiwana (kxhoxwana), marwana, mollwana (molelwana), leotwana
(lekotwana), gkwana, maletfwana, khu3wana, leinwana, kxhogwana,
tfheiwana, etc.
Examples of labial consonants in SePedi:-


(calf of leg)

kuuu (hippo)
kouo (tanned skin)
kEpo (spade)
tfhipo (spring-hare)
phuphu (April)

dimin. phefyana

220. In the case of front-labialization the process may go a step further
even in SePedi, and the front-labialized labials be converted to back-labialized
palatals. Examples:-

molapo (kloof) dimin.
moyopo (shallow dish)
leyapu (water-melon)
tihompho (honour)
kxhopho (type of ostrich)

molapqana or molatswana
moyopqana moyotswana
leyapqana leyatswana'

1 Note the palatalizing effect of u. See also Chap. XI, 228.


In SeSuto and SeChuana this is the general rule for all labials :-
phefwana, t4hafwana (calf of leg), ku3wana (hippo), ko3wana, ketfwana
(spade), tshitjwana, molatswana (kloof) (molatjwana in SeChuana), lefiatJwana
(water-melon) (lexatjwana in SeChuana), seiotswhana (honour) (set4hotJwhana
in SeChuana), etc.
Observation 1.-There is one word which in all three languages preserves
a back-labialized labial, viz. mpho (gift) with diminutive mpwhana. In
SeSuto I have also heard 4-ompwhana as diminutive form of 4ompho (honour).
Observation 2.-In SeSuto there is no doubt that front-labialization also
existed in this connection. In Mabille's dictionary I have met spellings like
tsipjane, phupj(o)ane, but I could meet no native in Basutoland who actually
used these old front-labialized forms. They are still to be found in some Chuana

221. As stated previously, nouns ending in -a as a rule merely elide the -a
and suffix -ana without undergoing any consonantal change. There are,
however, in SePedi several nouns ending in -a which, on the analogy of nouns
ending in a back vowel, receive labialization.
lefofa (feather) dimin. lefofqana
yafa (mad) yafyana or yafana
leua (dove) leuTrana or leuana
se4opha (troop) se4otswhana

222. A very popular alternative form of diminutive for all nouns is the
addition of the suffix -jana. When used in connection with labials, front-
labialization does not enter in, and the consonants are not affected in the
way described above.
Examples: kouo-kouopana, molapo-molapopana, phefo-phefojana, etc.
This form of diminutive is very popular among the younger generation
of natives.

223. Palatalization of consonants is a phenomenon more difficult to
trace than labialization, chiefly because the words themselves give less clue
to their parent forms than the words containing labialized consonants.
Palatalization is caused by a close vowel like i (and occasionally u) exerting
palatal assimilation over a neighboring consonant.
224. The simplest cases are the SePedi words lefsifsi (darkness),
mafsi (thick milk), fsiEla (to sweep), pshiu (kidneys), pshikoloya (to
roll), found alongside lefifi, mafi, fiela, phio, phikoloxa in SeChuana and
SeSuto (with labio-dental f in the latter language), and even among certain
speakers of SePedi itself. Here the consonants are pronounced with palatal
colouring. Compare however, SePedi Jsa (new), with SeChuana Ja, where
the consonant is distinctly palatal (or rather alveolar) with no trace of the
labial element. Or again, compare SePedi fsa (to burn) with its alternative
pronunciation swa, or compare SePedi uzala (to sow) with SeSuto 3wala, where
the labial element is found merely as labialization of the palatal element.
225. Another simple case is that of 1 before i or u. Normally 1 is not
found before these two vowels: its place is taken by d in SeSuto and I
in SeChuana and SePedi. See 142 et seq.

The Effect on Preceding Consonants
226. It is where the close vowel like i has lost its syllabic value in the
history of the language that difficulty is encountered by the investigator.
In its capacity as glide this sound (written y usually by Ur-Bantu students) has
succeeded in palatalizing certain preceding consonants before itself being
elided. Like the o of labialization, it has left its mark on preceding consonants
before being lost.
Examples :-
227. In SePedi, hora (to be full) has perfect tense hofe, derived from
some form of *horile (with elision of 1 and assimilation of r to J under influence
of the i glide). In SeChuana the corresponding word is kxhora, with perfect
tense kxhotshe.
SePedi kxhofi (chief) is derived from yoya (to attract); in SeChuana
the two words are kxhosi and xoxa. Here the velar fricative has been palatalized.
In SeChuana bona (to see) has perfect tense bope instead of *bonile.

1 Doke, when dealing with this phenomenon as he finds it in Zulu, calls it Pre-
palatalization" (p. 139). Narrowly speaking, he is quite right, for the ensuing sounds-s J
ts tJ, etc.-are alveolar rather than palatal, true palatal phones being lacking. I prefer, however,
to retain the more popular term Palatalization" (found in the leading grammars, etc.) as
indicating the phonetical process rather than the resulting sounds.


228. Inversely SeSuto and SeChuana letsa (to play the flute) has
perfect tense leditse, showing that letsa is derived from some previous form
like *ledia or *lelia, with palatalization of the 1-element before the i glide.
Likewise SeSuto and SeChuana bitsa 2 (to call) has perfect tense biditse,
showing that it is derived from some previous form like *vidia or *uilia.
In SeChuana and SePedi, tJwa (to come out) and butjwa 3 (to ripen) have
perfect tense lule and bulule, showing them to be derived from *liia and *uuliia
forms respectively. This time the palatalization is caused by the u, and is
accompanied by labialization.
Note also the palatalizing influence of u in the diminutives of malelu-
maletfwana (beard), khulu-khu3wana (tortoise), gketu--1ketfwans (frog)
(the last in SeSuto only).

The Effect on Succeeding Consonants
229. The vowel i, as found in the 5th Class prefix li- (le- in Suto-Chuana),
has similarly influenced succeeding consonants, in the history of the language
SeChuana lesama (cheek) has plural form marama, indicating a previous
singular form *lerama (which is in fact the regular word in SeSuto).5 Note also
the following words in SeChuana:-
lesaka (kraal) plur. maraka
lesapo (bone) marapo
leJope (ruin) marope
lefophi (blister) marophi
letJhofa (hole) marofa
letjhoo (paw) maroo
letsatsi (day) malatsi
letsel1 (breast) (corn) mabele
letfoxo (arm) maboxo
letJwele (fist) mabole
lekoto (leg) maoto 6
letseba and leeba (rock-pigeon)
leJulu ,, lehulu (hole for threshing corn) 7

1 In SePedi letfa and lelitJe.
2 In SePedi uitfa and uilitJe.
3 In SeSuto tswa and dule.
butswa and budule.
4 This phenomenon has been dealt with very exhaustively for some thirteen Bantu
languages by Dr. W. Eiselen in Die Veranderung der Konsonanten durch ein vorhergehendes i
in der Bantusprachen" (Zeitschrift fur Kolonialsprachen, vol. xiv). His SeSuto examples,
unfortunately, are not very reliable, and should be taken with caution.
5 Compare SePedi lejata and SeSuto lerata (noise).
6 Compare the permutations ana-kano, Eta-kEto, etc. (Chap. V, 135).
See also the relationship of SePedi 1h to other sounds (Chap. V, 132-3).


and in SePedi :-
lefupi (ruin) plur. marupi
letsEle (corn) mauelE
and in SeSuto :-
lesapo (bone) plur. masapo or marapo
lesupi (ruin) masupi or marupi
lesoba (hole) masoba or maroba
letswele (breast) mabelE
letsibofil (ford) madiboflo
letsapa (hunger and thirst), cp. lapa (to get hungry)
Compare also SeSuto lefala (coal) with its forms loxala in SeOhuana and
leyala in SePedi.
In each case the plural form gives the original consonant (or its direct
descendant) which the vowel in the le- prefix has palatalized. Where labial
consonants are concerned, labialization has also crept in.
Note that in SeSuto and SePedi the modern plural form is usually
built on the analogy of the palatalized singular form. Thus: masaka (or
maJaka), matsatsi (or matfatJi), etc. Soon those interesting plurals mentioned
above may be dropped for the modern forms in all three languages.
In fact, several of the old plural forms used by Eiselen have been disputed by
my native informants.
The permutation of fricatives under influence of foregoing i may be here
cited as a process similar to this type of palatalization. (See Chap. XII.)

.Existing Processes of Palatalization
230. As can be seen from the foregoing examples, palatalization is a
process which was largely completed some time during the history of the
language-group, and we have therefore only remnants of old forms preserved
(mostly in SeChuana) to show the probable origin of several palatal sounds.
It is possible that all s, J, ts, tJ words may be traced back to non-palatal
beginnings, and Ur-Bantu students have essayed to do so. Such a problem,
however, is purely philological, and cannot be undertaken here.
There are, however, three processes still apparent by which palatal
sounds are derived from existing non-palatal sounds :-
(a) In the case of a verb, the causative is often formed by the palataliza-
tion of the consonantal element of the last syllable.
(b) In the case of a few verbs, the formation of the perfect tense also
involves the palatalization of the consonantal element of the last syllable.
(c) In the case of a noun ending in a front vowel, the diminutive is often
formed by the palatalization of the consonantal element of the last syllable,
the elision of the final vowel, and the suffixing of -ana or -ans.


(a) The Causative of Verbs
231. The normal mode of forming the causative of a verb is to elide
the final vowel and suffix -isa (-ija in SePedi). Thus:-
ut4wa (to hear) ut4wisa 1 (to make hear)
rata (to love) ratisa1 (to make love)
bala (to read) badisa 1 (to make read)
This suffix, we are told, is derived from *-Eya + ka, and this *-Ya is the original
causative suffix. There are still many verbs whose causatives are formed
with the aid of this *-ja suffix alone, and in such verbs palatalization is always
to be found.
To save needless repetition, in the following examples only the Suto form
of the main or parent verb is given (except where otherwise indicated in
the text).

232. Non-labial Consonants :-
Parent Verb.
SeSuto. SeSuto.
apara (to dress oneself) apesa


(to carry)
(to doff)
(to lie)

lla 2 (to weep)
theofia 3 (to descend)
tsofia 3 (to get up)
t4ofia 3 (to move off)
Eta (to go)
t4a (to come)
kena 4 (to go in)
4abana (to fight)

bona (to see)
bepa (to glisten)
sepa (to spoil)

apa (to suck)

Causative Form.

etsa (to do)

bontsha (to show)


1 In SePedi-ut4wifa, ratiJa, ualifa.
2 lela in SeChuana.
3 In SeChuana-theoxa, tfoxa, t4oxa.
In SePedi-theoya, tsoya, t4oya.
4 tssna in SeChuana, and SePedi.

et a




233. Labial Consonants :-
Parent Verb.
boifa (to fear)

akofa (to hurry)

t4halefa (to become wise)



Causative Form.

4apa (to wash) Iatswa tthatfwa 4atswa
lapa (to be hungry) latswa (to taste) latfwa latswa
ema (to stand) emisa emisa ejwa
(to bear fruit)
Note the accompanying labialization in some of the labial examples.
(See 214c.)
234. When a causative verb is itself made causative, the new causative
is, as often as not, built from the original form of the verb.
Thus in SeSuto :-

sebetsa (to work) fr
folotsa (to miscarry)
and in SeChuana :-
latsa (to lay) f
reetsa (to listen)
patsa (to despise)
apa (to suckle)
kopapa (to join)


*sebela has causative


rom lala (to lie) has causative lalisa
S *reEla ,, reelisa
ala Ij palisa
*Jlala jiatsisa
*amua ,, amusa (apisa)
,, kopana (to be ,, kopantsha

ruapa (to reconcile) from-
ruana (to possess in common) from-
rua (to possess) has causative ruantsha
235. As stated earlier, the normal form of the causative ends in -isa (or -ifa
in SePedi). The younger generation are inclined now to add this suffix to
all verb-stems, to the suppression of the older palatal substitutions. Thus :
bona-bonisa, boifa-boifisa, 4apa--4apisa

(b) The Perfect Tense of Verbs
236. The normal mode of forming the perfect tense of a verb is to elide
the final vowel and suffix -ile or -itse 2 (-itJe in SePedi). Thus :
ruta (to teach) perf. rutile
lesa (to leave) ,, lesitse
1 A word found in SeChuana only.
2 -itse (-itJe) is used as a rule for the perfect tense of causative verbs.




In many verbs, however, a contracted form of the suffix is used, along with
elision of the final vowel and palatalization of the preceding consonant,
especially when that consonant is 1.1
Main Verb. Perfect Tense.
SeSuto. SeSuto. SeChuana. SePedi.
(-ala and -Ela > -etse)
sala (to remain) setse setse Jetfe
amofiEla (to receive) amofietse amoxetse amoyetfe
(-ola > -otse)
4ola (to stay for day) 4otse t4hotse 4otJe
(-ula > -utse)
dula (to sit) dutse Jutse lutfe
(-ela > -etse)
sepela (to walk) sepetse sepetsE sepetfe
(-ola > -otsE)
4ola (to overcome) Iotse t4hotse 4otfe

237. Sometimes n and p are also affected. This occurs usually in
SeChuana only:-
bona (to see) perf. bope
tssna (to enter) ,, tsepe
nna (to sit) ,, ntse
anapa (to exchange) ,, anantse 2
Note also the following unique case in SeChuana:-
t4a (to come) perf. tile
Observation.-The open and close e and o have not been distinguished in
the above examples. The reader's attention is here directed to Ch. III, 66.

(c) The Diminutive of Nouns

238. The historical process of diminutive formation in the case of nouns
ending in a front vowel was probably that the front vowel first lost its syllabic
quality, and became a palatal glide, before the suffix -ana or -ane. This state
of affairs may still be found in SePedi in a few words like :-
lemati (plank) dimin. lematiana
lenti (string) lentiana

1 Many verbs in 1 are regular, e.g. bala (to read)-badile.
2 Compare apa (to suck) with perf. antse in SeSuto, antje in SePedi, and amule
in SeChuana.


morithi (shadow)
phuthi duikerr)

moloki (poor man)
molaki (overseer)

mokxhi pluckerr)

pelope (glutton)





The usual development, however, in all three languages has been the subsequent
elision of the glide after it has palatalized the preceding consonant, as the
following examples will show.
(Here again, to save needless repetition, the Suto form of the main or
parent noun is alone given.)

239. Non-labial Consonants :-

Parent Noun.


Diminutive Form.
SeChuana. SePedi.

(buffalo) natshana


moriri (hair) moritshana moritshana
set4hare (medicine) set4ha3ana set4hatshana

se4aia (bush)

se4atshana set4hatshana


podi (goat) potsane
madi (blood) madipana

lebese (milk)


lemots (mud wall) lemotjana
lemati (door) lematjana


lenoi (vulture) lenopana
tthoi (hedge-hog) tlhopjiana














240. Where labial consonants are concerned we often encounter labializa-
tion. In SePedi it is often front-labialization; in SeSuto and SeChuana it has
become back-labialization (with palatal consonant). Thus:-



(long ago)




Labial Consonants.

Parent Noun.
morifi (saucer)
lefiofi (palm of hand)
fiaofi (near)


Diminutive Form.
SeChuana. SePedi.

flaotswhana xautJwhana




kolobe (wild-pig)



mosupi (indicator)

tshEphe springbuckk)
se4opha (troop)
leleme (tongue)




set4habipana sedauqana
boxo3ana uoyouejana
ths3ana thevana
kolo3wana kolouqana



flefutswana -

241. As stated previously (Ch. X, 219), nouns ending in -a as a rule
merely elide the -a and suffix -ana without undergoing any consonantal change.
On the analogy of these, the diminutives of the following SePedi nouns ending
in front vowels have, it seems, been formed :-

tate (father)
uose (sweetness)
leuese (milk)
letEpe (spoilt child)

dimin. tatana

242. A very common way of forming the diminutive for all nouns is to add
the suffix -jiana, e.g. selspe-selepepana, t4hapi--thapipana, podi-podipana,
etc. This does away with any palatalizing process that might otherwise
take place, and is very popular with the younger generation. Soon, as in the
case of the verbal causatives, palatalization will probably cease to play a part
in the diminutive formation of nouns.

(a) Permutation after i
243. There is another form of influence exerted by the close vowel i on
succeeding consonants, which is generally termed "permutation and some-
times "hardening of consonants.
It has been noticed (throughout Chapter V) that when a word commencing
with any fricative consonant is subjected to certain grammatical conditions,
the fricative is replaced by the corresponding homorganic affricate or plosive,
a voiced fricative being replaced by an unaspirated plosive or affricate, and
a breathed fricative by an aspirated plosive or affricate. That is to say:-
u (b) is permuted to p
uz ,, ps
3 tj
1 and d ,, t
*Y ,, k
f (f) (h) ,, ph
fs ,, psh
s ,, tsh
S,, tJfh
x (y) (f) ,, kxh
h (h) ,, kh
r ,, th
4 ,, t4h
The grammatical conditions causing this permutation of fricatives
involve nothing less than the prefixing of some grammatical particle containing
(either actually or historically) the vowel i to the normal stem of the word in
244. Thus, in a verb commencing with a fricative, permutation of the
fricative is accomplished by
(a) the first pers. ace. pron. ni (n in Suto-Chuana);
(b) the third pers. reflex. pron. i;
(c) the 9th Class prefix ni- (mostly lost in Suto-Chuana) converting the
verbal stem into a noun.
Examples (taken here from SePedi) :-
uit a (to call) o a mpit.a o a tepitfa
o a ipitJa pitO
(he calls me) (he calls himself) (calling)
uzalela (to sow for) o a mpsalela o a ipsalela psalelo
llEla (to cry for) o a ntelela o a itelela telElo
ayela (to build for) o a nkayela o a ikaysla kayelo


(to give)
(to destroy)
(to flog)
(to refuse)
(to rob)
(to stab)

o a mpha
o a ntshepa
o a ntfhapa
o a qkxhana
o a gkhula
o a nt4haua

o a ipha
o a itshepa
o a itfhapa
o a ikxhana
o a ikhula
o a it4haua


Other examples are already given under each fricative in Chapter V.

245. In SeChuana a noun commencing with a fricative, and belonging
to the llth Class (prefix lo-), has the fricative permuted in the plural (after the
10th Class prefix li- or lin-).
Examples :-

lobaka (time)
loleme (tongue)
lost (journey)
lofatsa (chip)
losika (vein)
loxopo (rib)
lorole (dust)

plur. lipaka

The prefix lin- is used mostly in the case of monosyllabic stems :-

lobu (salt earth)
loli (cord)
lojo (death)
lore (rod)

plur. Jimpu or lipu

In SeSuto and SePedi the llth Class has been lost or rather merged into
the 5th Class (prefix le-) with plural in ma- (6th Class). A few words, however,
still retain the old 10th Class plural prefix, and undergo permutation :-

plur. lipaka and


(SePedi only)
(Pedi, Suto)
(Pedi only)
(Pedi only)
(Suto,. Pedi)
(Suto only)
(Suto, Pedi)

Observation.-Where a noun of the 9th Class takes a plural form in ma-
(Class 6) instead of li- (Class 10), the permuting effect of the *ni- prefix is some-
times undone.
(SeSuto and SeChuana) tshimo (garden) plur. masimo
(SeChuana only) pitsi (zebra) plur. lipitsi mabitsi
tan (lion) litau malau
tshephe (springbok) litshephs masEphE





246. In an adjective the law of concord decrees that an adjective shall
agree with its noun in Class. Classes 8, 9, 10 all contain i-prefixes, e.g.
8th Class :-*ui- (now li-)
9th Class :-*ni- (now lost mostly)
S10th Class :-*lini- (now li- or lin-).
Hence adjectival stems commencing normally in fricatives have those fricatives
hardened when qualifying nouns in these three classes.
Examples from SeSuto:-
seat4a se se se4a, a yellow hand. 7th Class
diat4a di tshe4a, yellow hands. 8th Class
kxhomo e tshE4a, a yellow ox. 9th Class
(di)kxhomo di tshE4a, yellow oxen. 10th Class
Notice the intrusive nasal in the case of monosyllabic adjectival stems :-
sefatE se sebe, a bad tree. 7th Class
difatE tse mpe, bad trees. 8th Class
iku e mpe, a bad sheep. 9th Class
(di)gku tse mpe, bad sheep. 10th Class
One or two adjectives in SeSuto do not undergo permutation. These are :
4ano (five), rolo and soothe (both colour adjectives). Why these do not
conform is not known. (See Ch. V, 111, 118, 141, also Jacottet's Grammar,
53, 56.)
Observation.-Only true adjectives are permuted. A noun used as an
adjective remains unaffected.
Example from SePedi:-
se'are se uose, a sweet tree. 7th Class
lilare tje uose, sweet trees. 8th Class

(b) Permutation after u
247. The prefix *mu- (mo- in Suto-Chuana), whether 1st Class nominal
prefix, 3rd Class nominal prefix, or 3rd pers. sing. ace. pronoun, has often
a nasalizing effect on a following u (b), which it assimilates into another m, the
vowel u being elided.
Examples (from SeSuto):-
bopa (to create) mmopi (creator) plur. babopi
bat4a (to search) mmat4i (searcher) babat4i
mmala (colour) plur. mebala
mmila (road) mebila
mmut4a (hare) mebutla
mmele (body) mebele (SeChuana only)
mmuso (government) mebuso (SeSuto only)
boka (to praise) kea mmoka (I praise him)
(See also under Elision of Vowels ", 204.)


248. Occasionally this prefix exerts the same influence over f as a
preceding i. (See 243-4.)
Compare SePedi mphayo with SeSuto mofao (provisions)
mphoka mofoka taree)
mphafa SeChuana mofafa (buffalo-grass)
mpheli mofeg] (handle)
(Endemann's dictionary gives many more.)
Observation.-In these last two chapters I have regarded the close vowels
i and u as palatalizing agents. There are many authorities, however, who
argue that palatalization and permutation are due to the nasal consonants
n and m, often found in the prefixes and particles containing these two vowels.
The arguments for each side of the dispute are fully discussed in Dr. Eiselen's
treatise. (See Bibliography.)





249. In the works of most writers on the Suto-Chuana languages, the
two factors length and stress have been badly confused with each other and
with intonation. This is probably due to the fact that in English and other
European languages emphasis is so often conveyed by length and high pitch
rather than by extra breath force. In Suto-Chuana these three factors have
distinct functions, which are briefly explained in the following three sections.

(a) Length
250. In a normal statement, the penultimate syllable, whether a word in
itself or part of a word, is pronounced long. Examples (from SeChuana) :-
kea bo:na. (I see)
ke bona ta:u. (I see the lion)
tau e bona mon:na. (The lion sees the man)
re rata xo: Iwa. (We like to fight)
ke t4a e: ga. (I shall eat it)
This length is never found on the penultimate syllable of any word when
it occurs in the middle of a sentence. Should the native pause or hesitate
on a word, the final syllable of the word in question is lengthened. Thus :-
ke t4a bala: .loEto Iwa mokerese:te.
(I shall read .. The Pilgrim's Progress)
as compared with-
ke t4a e ba:la. (I shall read it)

251. In a question, command, or occasionally a sentence of exclamatory
nature, the penultimate syllable is not lengthened, but is as short as any other
syllable in the breath-group. Very often this shortening of the penultimate
syllable is the only distinction made between a question and a statement.
Examples (from SeChuana) :-
a oa bona. (do you see ?)
bona tau. (look at the lion !)
Compare:- ke mosima:ne. (it is a boy) with
ke mosimane. (is it a boy ?)

(b) Stress
252. In a normal sentence, the last two syllables are both stressed. This
is the point missed by many investigators. Because the penultimate syllable
is long and accompanied by a falling intonation, it is considered to be the only
stressed syllable, especially as the final syllable has often a low tone and is often


devoiced. One has only to notice, however, the movement of the native's
head when he is speaking at all emphatically, to see at once what tremendous
psychological (if not acoustic) accent the last syllable of a breath-group has.
Thus in the sentence ke rata moruti (I like the teacher), the acoustic
effect of which is ke rita mori:ti with long u and whispered i the last
syllable is as strongly stressed as the penultimate, although in sonority there is
no comparison. To put it briefly, the stress on the final syllable is subjective,
while that on the penultimate syllable is primarily objective.
253. There are several monosyllabic adverbs and pronouns, etc., occurring
at the end of a sentence, which take all the stress, usually accompanied by a
falling tone, although they themselves are pronounced short. Examples:-
ke t4a tsana mo. (I shall enter here)
ke t4a nna fa. (I shall stay there)
xa ke rate motho o. (I do not like that person)
polelo ke e. (This is the story)

(c) Intonation
254. Every syllable in a Suto-Chuana breath-group has a tone value,
which in a narrow transcription has to be marked. There are roughly three
grades of tone value-high level, mid level, and low level (the last only
to be found occasionally on the final syllable of a sentence), which may be
marked in the following manner, the letters la representing a syllable :
high level la
mid level la (unmarked)
low level la
These tone levels are normally static. The long penultimate syllable of a
normal statement has, however, a dynamic tone, i.e. one that is not level, but
usually falling. There are four types of dynamic tone found in such syllables,
and they occur in the following connection:-
high falling ld
occurring la:la high falling + low level, e.g. ph:la (rain)
and ld:la high falling + mid level,1 e.g. lepb:ra (thirst)
mid falling la
occurring la:la mid falling + low level, e.g. fio ba:la (to read)
and la:la mid falling + high level,2 e.g. no:kd (river)
high circumflex ld
occurring ld:la high circumflex + mid level.
mid circumflex la
occurring la:la mid circumflex + low level.

1 In SeSuto and SePedi this mid level is on a lower pitch than normal mid level, but there
is no need to indicate this difference, once it has been remarked.
2 In all three languages this final high level is considerably lower than normal high level,
but here again no special mark need be employed once this fact is stated.

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