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 It sketches the dilemma young women are faced within a rapidly changing society, bringing together material from unpublished sources and data from informal interviews and discussions with students and academics at the National University of Lesotho and in South Africa.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.
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