Shona is one of the richest language laden with dialects and idioms. Its however viewed as having a very limited diction or vocabulary. This lingo only has one dictionary, hard copy material, the one I am sure you are all familiar with from high school.
Its rarely in the streets these days though. At the moment, many Zimbabweans often get lost in translating Shona words.
On social networks especially Facebook and WhatsApp, users come up with funny statements seeking assistance in translating Shona words into English. Such words like gotsi, man’a among others seem to be difficult to translate. further, there are other times that you think there are Shona words which cannot be translated to English.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
To simplify the challenges associated with translating Shona words, Victor Ndambakuwa, a Zimbabwean based in USA developed “VaShona” an application that translates and cracks even the toughest Shona riddle you might think of. He developed the app in 2011.
The dialects span a number of countries in Southern Africa; namely Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa,”
The VaShona Project was conceived from a first year paper in a writing class at university. From then on, the project was built and maintained.
“This experience has been rewarding in many ways. The most rewarding part has been de-constructing the way Shona as a language is written and how it can be improved. This research led us to create the Shona English translator to test our assumptions,” notes the site.
The VaShona Project aspires to unify Shona’s dialects by providing a resource to those who find interest in the Shona language for any reason. The developers try to achieve this goal by building a robust Shona Language Dictionary, and an experimental Shona Translator.
According to the site builders when they started, they had a no more than 50 unique visitors a day but the numbers have ballooned to over 1600 unique visitors.
While GoogleAds pays the app developers according to web traffic statistics, the VaShona project also generates revenue from Google Play where the app dubbed Shona Translator is sold for $7, 62.
“The VaShona Project is a labour of love. Time, and money is being put into this project every day. This project requires that we invest in technologies that will make sure we serve every visitor in a timely manner,” notes the site builders.
The Shona Dictionary is built from research and contributions. Our research is done through gathering online data using various programs. Contributions are provided to us via our online contact form.
Orthography and Grammar
We strive to provide a base for common orthography, a consistent grammar, and an improved syntax for the Shona language and its dialects. In doing this we consult with Shona Linguists.
Our experimental Shona English Translator is a program that spews out translations based on programming rules.
If you would like to hook into their API. Please contact them on this link for a quote.