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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Mvana and Their Children: The Language of the Shona People as it Relates to Women and Women's Space
Author:Chitauro-Mawema, Moreblessings B.
Periodical:Zambezia (ISSN 0379-0622)
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic terms:Zimbabwe
Southern Africa
Subjects:single mothers
illegitimate children
vulgar parlance
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Women's Issues
Cultural Roles
Women and Their Children
Shona (African people)
Shona language
Abstract:Research elsewhere, within English and other languages, has shown that linguistic behaviour is one of the keys to understanding the nature and status of women in the attitudes transmitted through language. This article examines the language of the Shona people (Zimbabwe) as it is related to women and women's space by examining terminology for 'mvana', single mothers, and their children, conceived out of marriage. The single woman's children are labeled and marked, by association. The terms reflect the Shona patriarchal tradition in which attitudes towards single men and their children and single women and their children differ. The former are tolerated, the latter stigmatized. The terms for single women and their children are both good and bad, but mostly insults and slurs. They fit into metaphorical categories ranging from euphemistic to insulting: gifts from the ancestors and from God, fun child, outsider, wild, homeless, children of a damaged mother, atypical children. The terms serve as verbal attacks on the mother's morality and the children's legitimacy. The terms were collected through a questionnaire and discussions held in Harare and Mhondoro, especially targeted at the language which people speak but which is never recorded, the language of the Shona 'villageworld'. App., bibliogr,. notes, sum. [Journal abstract, edited]