[ General information | Overview | Diacritics | Stories & poems | Dictionaries | Books | Translation | Radio stations | Links ]
English name: Venda
ISO code: ven
Spoken in the following countries: South Africa (Official), Zimbabwe
Tshivenda is one of the official languages of South Africa, where there are 1,021,757 (2.28 %) first language speakers [2001 census data]. There are also approximately 150,000 speakers in Zimbabwe, mostly in the south of the country.
Entering Venda characters on a computer (i.e. Venda diacritics)
Note: To enter Tshivenda characters in Windows, you can use the 'South African Keyboard' software driver created by translate.org.za.
The Tshivenda orthography (writing system) has five characters that contain diacritics (shown above). These characters do not appear on a standard keyboard. The fonts that come with Windows also do not support these characters. However, these characters are present in the Unicode character set, and thus can be entered on Unicode-enabled operating systems, such as Windows 2000/XP, Linux, and Apple Mac OS X. (Unicode is an international character set standard that supports most world languages.) By simply installing a font that includes these characters, these characters can be entered into a computer, and can also be displayed on a web page. Major word processing applications such as OpenOffice and Microsoft Word do support the entering of Unicode characters.
(Note that using Unicode is the only "correct" way to represent these characters within documents; in the long-term, documents stored using other non-standard and/or proprietary methods will have to be specially converted later on, while documents encoded from the start using Unicode will continue to work, because Unicode is "the standard".)
To use the Venda diacritics, first download and/or install a font that supports them, e.g. DejaVu. If you are using Windows, download the Windows version of the DejaVu font ("TrueType fonts packed as zip archive"), and unzip the files to your hard disk. Using Windows Explorer, copy the font files (.ttf files) into your system fonts directory ("C:\Windows\Fonts" for Windows XP, Windows 98 and Windows ME; "C:\WinNT\Fonts" for Windows 2000). You might need to restart your computer.
If your system is correctly configured, you should see the special Venda characters in the following table: (You may need to close and re-open your browser if you have just installed the fonts)
Once you have the right font(s) installed, you still need to be able to actually enter these characters in e.g. a word processor.
Instructions for OpenOffice: Select "Insert/Special Character" from the menu. Select the appropriate font under "Font" (e.g. Gentium or Arial Unicode MS), then select "Latin Extended Additionals" under "Subset". From here, you can double-click on a character to insert that character into your document. (It is suggested that you record a macro for this action, and associate a keyboard shortcut with the macro, so that you do not need to do this every time.)
Fonts that are known to include Venda characters
If you know of any more, please contact me.
Web developers: Including Venda characters in a web page
None of the standard 8-bit ISO-8859 character sets, nor the Microsoft Windows codepages, are sufficient for Venda; a Unicode-based character set encoding system must be used. There are at least two possible "correct" (i.e. standards-conforming) ways to include a Venda character in a web page:
If you encode your page using utf-8, you must specify this in the "Content-Type" meta tag, that is, you should
include a line such as the following immediately after the "head" tag:
Note regarding web browsers: Internet Explorer appears to require that you specify a font that supports these characters, otherwise it displays hollow squares. More modern web browsers such as FireFox appear to 'intelligently' automatically find a font that supports these characters when necessary, and display them correctly without anything additional required from the web page author.
Windows 'Character Map' Tool
In general, you can use "Windows Character Map" to locate such non-keyboard characters in Windows. This tool can be found under "Start / Programs / Accessories / System Tools". Character Map displays the Unicode encoding value for each character (e.g. the "1E44" for "latin capital letter n with dot above"), and if an "Alt-number" keystroke is available for a character, it is also shown.
Apple Mac OS X 'Character Palette'
On Mac OS X, the "Character Palette" provides similar (but superior) functionality to Character Map on Windows, and will allow Venda characters to be easily located and entered into any application. (The Mac's built-in font support is also superior to Windows - many more of the Unicode characters are available by default.)
Stories & poems