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5 death premonitions – spirits, the afterlife and indigenous religion in Zimbabwe

coffin in hearse

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Nyaudzosingwi| 70 ideophones starting with ‘a’ and ‘ba’

An ideophone is a word that evokes an idea in sound, often a vivid expression of certain sensations or sensory perceptions e.g. sound, movement, colour, shape or action. Such words are especially common in African languages. In Shona, ideophones are called Nyaudzosingwi. The ability to interpret or understand these words relies largely on knowledge of other words in the same language.

Below are some ideophones/ nyaudzosingwi beginning with Shona sounds ‘a’ and ‘ba’, as defined in the Standard Shona Dictionary (M. Hannan, S.J.). Different dialects are represented as M – chiManyika, Z – chiZezuru, Ko – chiKorekore, K – chiKaranga and Ko(B) – chiBudya.

nyaudzosingwi – a

ideophone description dialect
1. aku receiving rudely without thanking M
2. ambu lifting groundnuts K
3. anga floating K
4. angarara looking at with astonishment K
5. angarara floating K
6. ani spreading out to dry M
7. anyu unbending, forcing apart or open (metal) K/ M

nyaudzosingwi – ba

ideophone description dialect
8. ba catching sight of K /Ko /M /Z
9. ba striking K /Ko /Z
10. babandu crunching Z
11. badanu flaking Z
12. badanu unsticking Z
13. badara badara suffering Z
14. badara badara searching eagerly Z
15. bade being nothing Z
16. bade putting on an expression of hunger Z
17. badu splitting Z
18. badu cracking Z
19. badu slapping Z
20. bafafa sitting loose-limbed and bent forward, as idiots do K/ Z
21. bafafa desiring to eat or drink K /Z
22. bafamwa sitting loose-limbed and bent forward, as idiots do Z
23. bafu bafu walking with slow heavy tread Z
24. bama catching sight of Z
25. bamakata sitting down quietly, shyly K/ Z
26. bamama being startled K/ Z
27. bamama glimpsing K/ Z
28. bamamakata being startled Z
29. bambai bambai walking stiff-leggedly Z
30. bamu splitting/ cracking open K/ M/ Z
31. banan’ana shining clearly M
32. bandanu breaking up hard ground, digging deeply Z
33. banga putting in safe place; packing up Z
34. banganu Be clear. Brighten up. K/ Z
35. banganu Awaken or recover consciousness K/ Z
36. banganyi being smashed Z
37. bangu striking drum with anything M
38. bangu striking drum with hand Z
39. bangu striking metal M
40. bangu striking face with hand Z
41. bangu striking football M
42. bangu sun striking on head Z
43. bangwa following (especially path) Z
44. bani gripping, taking hold of with fingers(thick wood) Z
45. bani pinching Z
46. banzanu splitting (thick wood) Z
47. badzu splitting (especially wood; large piece) Z
48. banzu splitting (especially wood; large piece) Z
49. bapfu biting soft fruit Z
50. barabada rising from lying down K/ M/ Z
51. barabada rising from lying down (with difficulty) M/ Z
52. barabada rising from lying down (slowly) K
53. barabadu rising from lying down M/ Z
54. barabara rising from lying down Z
55. baranganda lightning flashing as thunder claps Z
56. baranganda being clever Z
57. barara spreading widely (e.g. in open plain); extending over an area K/ M/ Z
58. barara catching sight of Z
59. bari sparking (one) K/ M/ Z
60. barivafa desiring to eat or drink Z
61. baru tearing (large object) Z
62. batata welcoming at sight Z
63. bate bate repeatedly and randomly feeling with hands Z
64. bati kindling, starting to burn K/ Z
65. batu catching K/ M/ Z
66. bau acting quickly Ko(B) /Z
67. bawu acting quickly Ko(B)
68. bayi stabbing; pricking K /M / Z
69. bayu stabbing quickly; pricking K /M / Z
70. bazanu sorting; dividing into different kinds M /Z
Struggling with ideophones/ nyaudzosingwi as a Shona speaker probably means you are somewhat struggling with the language in general. For certain words, you can easily formulate your own ideophones. Try it!