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History of Xitsonga Language and The Xitsonga Bible

The Tsonga or Xitsonga is a Bantu language spoken by the Tsonga people in the Northern part of South Africa, in Mpumalanga and Limpopo province. It is mutually intelligible with Tswa and Ronga and the name "Tsonga" is often used as a cover term for all three, sometimes it referred as Tswa-Ronga depending on where you come from. 

Today the Xitsonga language in South Africa has been standardised learning in schools and it's an official home language. Tsonga is an official language and it is also recognised as an official language Zimbabwe. 

The entire Tswa-Ronga languages are recognised in Mozambique but It is not formerly recognised in Swaziland or Eswatini. 

According to the short history of the Xitsonga language, the language was studied in detail by the Swiss missionary, Henri-Alexandre Junod during the year 1890 and 1920, who concluded that the Xitsonga language began to develop in Mozambique. In his own words, Junod said the following: 

More studies were taken out by Junod and other Swiss missionaries like Henri Berthoud and Ernest Creux, who began to unite Xitsonga in order to have a primary way of writing, reading and understanding. 

Swiss missionaries involved themselves with the Tsonga people and used their knowledge and skills to translate the Bible from English and Sesotho language to Tsonga Mahungu Lamanene Bible. Paul Berthoud published the first Tsonga Bible in 1883 which he was helped by Mpapele (Mbizana) or Mandlati (Zambiki). 

The two individuals were very interested in teaching and translating the language to their fellow members since the other cultures didn't understand Xitsonga. 

The language was registered as "Xitsonga" within the Constitution of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996) and it was and later recognised as an official language. 

Today many people still find it difficult to Xitsonga but it's very simple. People who have passion for speaking other people's languages finds it simple and interesting. Follow for more news as more the history of Balobedu and the rain queen follows. 

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Henri-Alexandre Junod Mozambique South Africa Tswa Xitsonga


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