Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 132

Full Length Research Paper

Between tradition and the requirements of modern life: Hlonipha in Southern Bantu societies, with special reference to Lesotho

Ingrid Fandrych
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Bismarckstr. 1, D-91054 Erlangen, Germany
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 18 April 2012
  •  Published: 30 October 2012



Linguistic taboos are still quite widespread in Southern Africa, confronting women with the dilemma of either contravening tradition or agreeing to a radical self-censorship in their communication. This paper, which is exploratory in nature, examines possible rationales for hlonipha and discusses the linguistic, social and ethical implications of hlonipha. It sketches the dilemma young women are faced within a rapidly changing society, bringing together material from unpublished sources and data from informal interviews and discussions with students and academics at the National University of Lesotho and in South Africa.


Key words: Hlonipha, linguistic taboos, women in Southern Africa.