A Phonological Comparison of Shona and Chinese Names Transliteration

Herbert Mushangwe, Amanda Madzokere


This research is a phonological comparison of Chinese and Shona names. The research shows that Chinese names are structurally different from Shona names because when calling Chinese names both the given names and surnames are normally combined. It was noted that Chinese names can only be disyllabic or trisyllabic while Shona given names and surnames are at least quadrisyllabic or more.  PRAAT software was used to analyze Shona tone patterns and it was shown that Shona names follow a predictable high to low tone pattern which differs from tones in Chinese names which are not predictable. Since Chinese language has four tones while Shona language has two tones only it was predicted that name distortion is unavoidable when people from these two cultures transliterate foreign names. It was suggested that more researches should be done to explore the actual impact of name distortion in these two cultures.

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