Challenges to the Usage of a Hyphen in Compound Nouns in Southern Ndebele

Miss K.S Mahlangu


The problem challenging isiNdebele as a
new written language is the manner in which
compounds are formed. The major challenge is found
in compound nouns that are formed from three to
four different parts of speech. Such compound nouns
are written differently, there are a lot of
inconsistencies in as far as the writing of these
compound nouns is concerned. Some are hyphenated
and some are not hyphenated. The question is
whether to write them with or without a hyphen, if
they should be written with a hyphen, and where
should one put a hyphen?
Compounding involves the joining together of two
independent words to form a new word. Cluver
(1989:274) states that compounding is “by far the
most productive word-forming process in the
Germanic languages”. A combination of two or more
elements or parts. Linguistically compounding means
“A word that consists either of two or more elements
that are independent words”.
According to the revised orthography and spelling
rule (2005 and 2008), the hyphen in isiNdebele is used
amongst other things to separate compound nouns
signifying linguistic concepts. Language is never
static, it is dynamic. The new inventions and new
terms that are adopted in isiNdebele affects
compounding. There is a rapidly development of new
terms coined on daily basis and there is also an influx
of new terms that isiNdebele is experiencing which
also affects compounding. Language standardization
is definitely part of language management. Hudson as
cited by Van Huyssteen (2003:26) sees
standardization as a process of intervention by society
in the normal development of language. As such
isiNdebele lexicographers are faced with a challenge
in becoming the gate keepers and taking final
decisions when dealing with the lemmatization of
compounds, hence the inconsistencies.
The aim of this article is to try to minimize the
inconsistencies that are found in compound nouns
formed by more than three parts of speech and to
come up with acceptable strategies in the use of a
hyphen when writing compounds. Finally this paper
will contribute towards solving these problems by
offering practical approach within the context of the
written standard language. This will also benefit
lexicographers as they will be consistent when
defining lemmas with hyphens.



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