Homograph processing in Shona: A preliminary exploration

McLoddy Rutendo Kadyamusuma, Maxwell Kadenge


This article explores how non-tone marking in Shona orthography results in ambiguous lexical items. It further investigates how this non-tone marking may result in processing difficulties for speakers when reading in single word contexts. The focus is on how the speaker arrives at the correct reading in view of multiple readings and meanings. This preliminary study explores what non-tone marking may cost in terms of cognitive resources when reading in single word contexts. Three models are discussed to give an insight into how single Shona word processing, which is highly ambiguous without tone marking, could be made as efficient as possible. The analysis and discussion of the article is based on the Exhaustive, Integration and the Selective accounts to explore how the readers deal with the potential processing and reading difficulties when they encounter these highly ambiguous lexical items.


Shona, Lexical tone, homographs, homophones

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5785/29-2-184


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ISSN 2224-0012 (online); ISSN 0259-2312 (print)

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